Students at the University of South Carolina Upstate and Spartanburg Community College pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or math education can get a head start on their careers thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program.
The five-year grant will extend $11,688 in scholarship money to 21 junior-level USC Upstate students studying secondary education and chemistry, biology or mathematics under a school initiative called “Bridging Pathways for the Preparation of Highly Qualified Mathematics and Science Teachers,” according to a news release from USC Upstate.
“We believe these experiences will act as a catalyst for additional STEM majors to seriously consider the teaching profession,” Stephen Bismarck, associate professor of secondary mathematics education at USC Upstate and principal investigator for the project, said in the release. “This opportunity will allow these highly qualified teachers to enter the profession with little to no debt.”
Noyce Scholars at both colleges will intern with middle and high school students through the program. Participating schools include Dorman High School and High Point Academy, but any Spartanburg school district can participate in the program, according to the release.
At USC Upstate, 10 students will kick off the program in July 2021, followed by 11 the following year. The grant, implemented in October, may also go toward internship stipends, conference travel expenses and team member compensation.
USC Upstate will require Noyce scholars hired by a school to continue their education during the first two years of their new job through monthly seminars focusing on socio-emotional needs and the challenges of high-need schools.
“Grant funding and activities will encourage and provide opportunities for USC Upstate STEM majors to become interested and involved in working with kids and youth and will allow Upstate to support middle and high school students in math and science through STEM camps and intensive tutoring,” Laura Reynolds, dean of USC Upstate’s School of Education, Human Performance and Health, said in the release. “Additionally, this grant will not only support USC Upstate students as Noyce scholars while they’re in college but continue to provide them support throughout their first two years of teaching.”
USC’s other principal investigators for the project include Chris Bender, associate professor of chemistry; Kimberly Shorter, assistant professor of biology; Ryan Harper, mathematics instructor and director of tutoring; and Nancy Addison, an adjunct instructor.
SCC faculty members participating in the project are Sarah Kitts, program director of early care and education; Brandon Kinley, microbiology professor; and Linda Schmidt, a math professor.