Scholarship Program to Boost STEM Teachers

June 14, 2017
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The scholarship program is aimed at students like undergraduate Soyeon Park who, through GWTeach, taught fourth graders at Maury Elementary in D.C. (Photo: Meghan Hollibaugh Baker)

Through a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, GW students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will receive two years of tuition in exchange for teaching after graduation in a high-need school district. 

The five-year funding initiative to support establishment of the GWNoyce program will begin at the start of the 2017-18 academic year and is expected to assist more than 25 junior and senior year students with awards totaling $20,000 per year to cover the cost of tuition and teacher training. Upon completion of the program, students will be prepared to apply for licensure with the D.C. public school system, which would make them eligible to teach in 48 states. 

“The GWNoyce program will enable our students to more easily transition into STEM teaching in high-need schools, a cause that is critical to meeting the needs of colleges, graduate schools and ultimately our nation’s STEM workforce,” said Ben Vinson, dean Columbian College where GWNoyce will be housed. “The goal of the GWNoyce program is a timely one and aligns with our vision for an engaged liberal arts, one that will bring our education and research to a new level of excellence.”  

High-need schools are defined as having at least one of the following characterizations: high percentage of individuals from families with incomes below the poverty line; high percentage of secondary school teachers not teaching in the content area in which they were trained to teach; or high teacher turnover rate. These school districts can be found in urban, suburban and rural settings.

Professor of Physics Larry Medsker, who will direct GWNoyce, said the program will be particularly strong because it will recruit students who are already studying STEM-based fields and offer them courses, workshops, seminars and service projects to prepare them to be teachers in high-need schools. It also will offer preparatory stipends and projects for freshmen and sophomores who are interested in applying to the program, in conjunction with activities offered by the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, GWTeach, a separate GW undergraduate program that prepares STEM majors to become teachers, and a new partnership between GWTeach and the Smithsonian Science Education Center. Because of these additional offerings, the program is expected to reach more than 500 GW students by 2022. 

 The GWNoyce program also will create a new relationship with Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus, allowing students accepted into the program to transfer to GW for the start of the junior year. The scholarship will help ease some of the financial burdens in pursuit of their bachelor’s degrees. The program is expected to create new opportunities for Virginia students interested in studying STEM fields at GW.