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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

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Dr. Allyson Hallman-Thrasher

Dr. Allyson Hallman-Thrasher, Teacher Education associate professor

Photo courtesy of: The Patton College of Education

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Noyce Grant in excess of $2 million funds master’s program in STEM education

Dr. Hallman-Thrasher says it’s the best deal in Ohio


The Patton College of Education has received $2.3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to create the RALLY for STEM Robert Noyce Teaching Fellowship Program, which encourages STEM graduates and professionals to pursue middle and high school teaching careers.

The program allows participants to earn a master’s degree in education in one year, tuition-free. It is ideal for anyone with an undergraduate degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics who is interested in becoming a math or science teacher but does not currently hold a teaching license. 

“Nationally and in Ohio, there is a shortage of math and science teachers,” said Dr. Allyson Hallman-Thrasher, Teacher Education associate professor. “We’re trying to recruit and train more well-prepared math and science teachers for Southeast Ohio and throughout rural Appalachia.”

Program participants complete a year-long clinical internship in local schools under the mentorship of mathematics and science teachers. They also work with experienced mentors and OHIO STEM faculty to design engaging lessons and activities that integrate STEM principles and connect to local issues. Upon completion, participants will be eligible to teach mathematics or science for grades 4-9 or grades 7-12.

“The intensive and extensive classroom teaching experience, multi-level mentoring and support mechanisms, expansive networks, and attentiveness to professional improvement will make for confident, extraordinarily well-prepared new teachers,” said Dr. Renée A. Middleton, dean of The Patton College.

Participants leave the program with far more than a degree. They receive a $14,000 stipend while completing the program and an annual $11,000 stipend – in addition to a regular salary – during their first four years of teaching. They also receive a $1,000 annual travel budget to attend professional teaching conferences. In addition, participants receive job-placement support upon completion of the program, as well as ongoing mentoring from experienced faculty and K-12 teachers during their first four years of teaching.

“You’re not going to get a better deal in Ohio right now than this program,” said Hallman-Thrasher. ‘You’re getting a free master’s, you’re getting paid while you’re in that master’s program, you’re getting on-going support from your university faculty for your first four years of teaching – which is unheard of – and you’re getting a salary supplement for four years. That’s a great deal.”

The RALLY for STEM Noyce Teaching Fellowship Program is similar to the former successful Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows program. Over three years, the Patton College along with Arts and Sciences partners trained 30 math and science fellows.

“Many faculty, especially former SEOCEMS directors Jeff Connor, Ralph Martin, and Al Cote, had invested a lot of time and energy into making that a strong program for the fellows, but funding was needed to continue it,” said Hallman-Thrasher. “Within that program, we had built connections with local schools and partnerships across the university for both preparing math and science teachers and researching STEM teacher education Once funding ran out, those of us who are really invested in STEM education and STEM teacher education wanted to continue that work.”

The National Science Foundation has provided  $2.3 million in funding that will sustain the Noyce Teaching Fellowship Program for six years. Nelsonville-York City Schools and Alexander Local Schools will serve as local K-12 school partners. The Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery and Southeast Ohio Foodbank will serve as local community partners and provide opportunities for STEM-oriented community service.

“We’re grateful for the National Science Foundation for supporting STEM education in rural areas and also for our school partners for their long-standing support – not just with this program, but for their work with all of our teacher candidates,” said Hallman-Thrasher.

Indeed, The Patton College is not alone in this effort. It has partnered with the College of Arts & Sciences and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Professors from both Colleges, including Dr. Chang Liu (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), Dr. Nancy Sandler (Physics and Astronomy), and Dr. Alycia Stigall (Geological Sciences) are involved in designing and co-teaching program courses with Patton College faculty.  

Alongside Hallman-Thrasher, Teacher Education Associate Professor Dr. Danielle Dani and Ohio Center for Equity in Mathematics and Science (OCEMS) Director Dr. Courtney Koestler are serving as co-investigators of the research team. Dani will lead science teacher training and coordinate the work of embedding integrated STEM content throughout the program. Dr. Koestler will support community outreach efforts and support fellows’ action research projects.  

“Part of our research is focusing on what kind of supports are most necessary to help math and science teachers teach effectively in rural areas and to continue teaching in rural areas,” said Hallman-Thrasher. “Improving K-12 education is an ongoing goal for The Patton College, and that’s ultimately what we want to do.”

Hallman-Thrasher and colleagues believe that benefits of the program will extend beyond the fellows’ time in the program. Dr. Dani explained, “We believe the Noyce Fellowship program will advance STEM education in rural Southeastern Ohio and provide children in the region greater access to STEM careers. The program is designed to nurture science and mathematics teachers’ STEM teaching identity and develop them as emerging STEM education leaders whose impact extends beyond their classroom – promoting meaningful math and science teaching and learning in this region and across the state.

Those interested in applying for the RALLY for STEM Noyce Teaching Fellowship Program should contact Dr. Hallman-Thrasher (hallman@ohio.edu) or Dr. Dani (dani@ohio.edu). The deadline to apply is March 15, 2019. Click here for more information.