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Published: November 14, 2018 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s 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.

“We are so pleased that OHIO was honored with a Noyce grant to advance our efforts to increase the number of students graduating with a college degree to pursue teaching careers in math and science,” said President Nellis. “This is such a critical field, and it is our hope through this accessible program, more STEM professionals will be available to help shape young minds in our state and region.”

The program allows participants to earn a master’s degree in education in one year, tuition-free. It’s 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.”

Participants in the program will complete a year-long clinical internship in local schools under the mentorship of mathematics and science teachers. They will also work with experienced mentors and OHIO STEM faculty to design engaging lessons and activities that integrates STEM principles and connects to local issues.

“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.

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

“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.

The Patton College has partnered with the College of Arts & Sciences and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology where 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.