Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2017
In 2014, officials announced that Westminster College was set to receive a $1.027 million grant through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program of the National Science Foundation, a program aimed to increase qualifications of secondary educators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or IQ:STEM). Since its inception at Westminster, seven scholars have been accepted into the program; four of which have graduated and are in their first years of teaching.
One of the goals of IQ:STEM is recruiting individuals with strong STEM backgrounds who might not have otherwise considered a career in teaching. Due to its flexible short term commitment, a highlight of the program is that the rest of each scholar’s career path is completely in their hands. Some scholars continue making a positive impact in the lives of students in areas of high need, while others move on to different school districts or pursue different careers altogether.
For scholars like Cody Postupac, physics teacher at John Handley High School in Winchester, VA, the IQ:STEM Noyce Scholar program was a step in the right direction for him. Cody knew he wanted to go into teaching after completing his physics degree at Westminster. Through his participation in the program, Cody says he gained experience into many different areas of education including behavior management, pedagogical strategy and educational technology.
“One of the most useful things the program did for me was teach me about and give me experience in a high needs school,” Cody says. “As a teacher in a high needs school, that past experience has been invaluable. It shed some light on what a student might have to deal with outside of school, and that really puts everything else in perspective.”
Gaining the knowledge and experience needed to teach in areas of high need is what senior biology major David McCollough says gave him the insight needed for his career. Along with his colleagues, David has had many networking opportunities through attending practicum experiences, conferences and workshops.
“The program has many eye-opening opportunities that helps you gain experience in different schools. It also helps you realize that when a school is described as “high needs,” it is not as scary as most people think,” says David. “High needs schools are just like any other school once you get used to them, but you as a teacher must be a little more creative.”
Recent graduate and past scholar Brooke Mancuso says IQ:STEM provides students with the tools for more than just success. Starting this fall, Brooke is set to begin her new job as a biology teacher at Hempfield High School in Lancaster PA. Through the program, Brooke was able to attend the Noyce Northeastern regional conference in Boston, MA and the American Society of Cell Biology conference in San Diego, CA.
“The program provides you with the opportunities to learn and grow. They provide actual real life experiences through workshops, meetings, and conferences,” says Brooke.
Noyce Scholars receive stipends to attend/present at both Noyce Scholar conferences and conferences in their respective disciplines. In addition, each scholar is awarded a $15,000 grant for tuition, room and board during their junior and senior year. Stipends are also awarded to help offset certification tests and teacher workshop expenses. In return, each Noyce Scholars commit to two years of teaching in an area of high need for each year of support received.
“As a university level educator, working with this program has opened my eyes to the level of hard work and dedication together with the broad range of skills it takes to not only be a high school educator in any district but also the special training that will help one succeed in a high needs district,” says Dr. Karen Resendes, Associate Professor of Biology and Co-Principal Investigator of the IQ:STEM Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.
Other professors involved with the grant include: Dr. Amy H. Camardese, Professor and Chair of the School of Education; Dr. Sararose D. Lynch, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education; Dr. Thomas E. Oberst, Assistant Professor of Physics; Mr. James Anthony, Lecturer of Math and Computer Science; and Dr. Erin E. Wilson, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Program Coordinator/Chair for Biochemistry.
Past and current scholars of the program include Tori DeAngelis ’15, Shawna Howard ’16, Gabe Roman ’19 and Jacob Stoyer ’19.
To all current student interested in becoming a Noyce Scholar, applications are being accepted in October 2017. Prospective Noyce Scholars must complete an application with (a) three recommendations, (b) an essay, and (c) transcripts indicating minimum GPA of 3.0. Strong applicants will be invited to interview with the selection committee.
For more information, contact Tom Fields at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-946-7190.