Lycoming College receives significant National Science Foundation grant for STEM teacher education

Lycoming College has received a five-year, $1 million grant from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Lycoming’s project, Preparing Leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education for High-Need Populations, will recruit undergraduate majors in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics and prepare them to become 7th-12th grade teachers in high-need school districts.

The purpose of the Noyce Program, according to NSF, is to respond to the critical need for highly effective K-12 STEM teachers by recruiting and preparing talented undergraduate STEM majors to pursue teaching careers, particularly in high-need districts.

A total of 18 Lycoming students will be named Noyce Scholars and will receive tuition scholarships and summer research stipends. Scholars will commit to teaching for at least two years in high-need school districts following graduation. Implementation of the program will be led by Rachel Hickoff-Cresko, Ed.D., assistant professor of education, and Dr. Charles Mahler, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry.

“The foremost goal of this project is to strengthen the science and math achievement of 7th-12th grade students by providing incentives and support that will attract and retain an increased number of high-achieving undergraduate STEM majors who will enter the teaching profession,” said Hickoff-Cresko. “Additionally, the project will enhance the Lycoming Secondary Teacher Certificate Program by increasing the expertise of education and STEM faculty in preparing students to teach in high-need schools.”

The Williamsport Area School District (WASD), the Waterdale Environmental Education Center, and Lycoming College alumni will partner with Lycoming in carrying out the program.

WASD STEM teachers will serve as mentors for Noyce Scholars and as supervisors for the Scholars’ student teaching assignments. They will also contribute to the educational program of the Noyce Scholars in workshop and classroom settings on Lycoming's campus.

"As an educational partner with Lycoming for more than 50 years, the Williamsport Area School District welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with Lycoming College on the execution of the Noyce program,” said Timothy Bowers, Ed.D., WASD superintendent. “WASD will benefit from the placement of Noyce Scholars as student teachers in our district, and the program will provide new collaborative professional opportunities for members of our STEM faculty. We look forward to building upon the already strong relationship between WASD and Lycoming College."

As part of their educational program, Noyce Scholars will work collaboratively with Lycoming and WASD faculty to create a high school-level environmental education curriculum for the Waterdale Center, a collaboration among Lycoming’s biology and education departments, the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority, and the Lycoming County Conservation District.

Lycoming alumni who are current STEM teachers and have experience educating students in high-need districts will serve as mentors to the Noyce Scholars. Scholars will have opportunities to meet and interact with mentors on campus and to continue with their alumni mentor relationships after graduation. Ensuring support to graduates once they become employed as teachers is a key program component.

“We are most pleased by this opportunity to further our efforts in responding to the nation’s need for highly-qualified STEM teachers,” said Kent Trachte, Ph.D, president of Lycoming College. “The confidence of the National Science Foundation in our education and STEM programs and our partnership with the Williamsport Area School District is gratifying, and we look forward to preparing Lycoming’s Noyce Scholars for success in educating high-need populations.”

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