On March 17, Sacred Heart University announced a $1.4 million grant funded by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship and Stipend program, “Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science Educator Scholarship Program” (BioCheMaCS).
According to a statement issued from the university, “The program has two top goals: to increase the number of highly qualified science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers who graduate from SHU and go on to work in high-need secondary school districts; and to increase the overall effectiveness of STEM teachers in high-need schools in Connecticut and around the U.S.”
Amanda Wagner, Assistant Director of Transfer Admissions, and Bonnie Maur, co-director of the science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) program at the Isabelle Farrington College of Education, held a WebEx information session on March 25 about the program.
“Students in the program get a $20,000 scholarship for their junior and senior years,” said Wagner. “Students will also have access to professional society memberships, master mentorship programs, STEM education workshops, individual academic advising, mathematics and biology methods graduate course, and an integrating STEM in classrooms course.”
The Noyce program has allowed for both students and teachers to benefit from this grant.
“Our students are the major beneficiaries of this grant through scholarships and extra programming, including mentorship opportunities during their junior and senior year with STEM experts at area schools, the ability to attend and present at professional conferences at the regional and national level, and also obtaining memberships in these organizations,” said Maur.
This program is for both Sacred Heart students going into the STEM education program as well as Housatonic Community College (HCC) transfers with an associate’s degree.
“Of HCC’s 4,455 students, 71% are from underrepresented minorities, 32% are first-generation and 66% are eligible for Pell grants, which are awarded to students with high levels of unmet financial need. 81 HCC students transferred to Sacred Heart between 2015 and 2018,” said the statement from the university.
HCC has now partnered up with Sacred Heart.
According to a statement issued from the university, “Sacred Heart will collaborate with HCC to develop strong joint programs that create a seamless pathway from community college into secondary STEM education. Long-term results of the BioCheMaCS program include an increase in Connecticut’s highly qualified secondary STEM teachers, particularly in high-need classrooms, and higher enrollment in the state’s first cross certification in computer science. This will improve local secondary school proficiency in math and science.”
Christine Thorp, a junior at Sacred Heart, is currently studying STEM for Elementary Education in the hopes of being an elementary school teacher in the future.
“This program has given me numerous opportunities, from a mentorship with a STEM-focused teacher in the Bridgeport public schools to being able to attend professional development conferences,” said Thorp. “I get to experience a variety of opportunities that are preparing me to become an effective and knowledgeable teacher upon graduation.”
The Noyce grant has allowed students to be able to physically interact with and work in priority-need school districts.
“Having the mentorship and being able to physically be in an elementary classroom every single week has granted me the opportunity to gain confidence in my ability to teach and slowly teach lessons on my own,” said Thorp. “Being a Noyce scholar means that I will graduate from Sacred Heart with an extensive knowledge base on how to be an effective STEM-focused elementary school teacher.”