MEMPHIS, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The State’s two largest school districts could see an increase in math, biology and chemistry teachers thanks to a partnership between Tennessee State University and national syndicated radio host Tom Joyner.
The initiative, which encourages community college graduates to attend TSU and teach in Memphis and Nashville after graduation, was announced at a news conference in Memphis on Friday, Sept. 9, a day before the Southern Heritage Classic game between TSU and Jackson State University.
The partnership seeks to get more students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. It will offer full scholarships to students graduating from five Tennessee community colleges: Southwest Tennessee, Nashville State, Volunteer State, Motlow State, and Columbia State.
“Today’s agreement with the Tom Joyner Foundation will help deserving students from five of our community colleges fulfill their desires to attend Tennessee State without the distractions of worrying about how to pay for tuition and fees,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Most importantly, we’re providing Memphis and Shelby County, along with the Metropolitan Nashville school system, with much needed STEM teachers for the students.”
Tom Joyner said he’s glad the initiative will not only help to produce more STEM teachers, but also ease students’ financial burdens.
“We always say that it’s one thing to go to school, but it’s another thing to stay in school,” said Joyner, whose mother was raised at then Tennessee A&I State College by his great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall. A building was named in her honor.
The Tom Joyner Foundation will provide 75 percent of the scholarship funds, and the rest will come from the NSF funded Tiger Teach Initiative and TSU’s Office of Community College Initiatives.
Sharon Peters, executive director of TSU’s Community College Initiatives, said the scholarship program is very much needed.
“We don’t have enough young people filling STEM careers,” Peters said. “A full scholarship to teach in math and biology or chemistry should lead to more teachers, particularly in Nashville and Memphis where we need them.”
School officials acknowledged the need for STEM teachers and lauded the partnership.
“As a system, we always have a shortage of science and math teachers,” said Roderick Richmond, director of student support services for Shelby County Schools. “So I’m really excited about the partnership with Tennessee State and the Tom Joyner Foundation.”
Students beginning their first semester of community college in fall 2016 will be eligible for the scholarship program. They must graduate from the two-year institution with a 3.0 grade point average, and maintain a 3.0 GPA while at TSU, according to requirements. Graduates must teach within the Nashville or Memphis area.
“This partnership gives our students an opportunity to fulfill their dreams,” said Tracy Hall, president of Southwest Tennessee Community College.
Tom Joyner, Jr., who oversees the foundation, agreed.
“This ensures that more students are able to graduate,” he said. “It ensures more children will be placed where they’re needed, the STEM classrooms of Tennessee, as well as throughout America.”
The Tom Joyner Foundation supports historically black colleges and universities with scholarships, endowments, and capacity building enhancements. Since it was created in 1997, the foundation has raised more than $65 million to help students stay in school.
Last year, the foundation selected TSU to be a “school of the month.” Under the designation, the foundation awarded scholarships to students throughout the month and featured TSU’s accomplishments on Tom Joyner’s weekly morning program.
To learn more about the Tom Joyner Foundation, visit: http://tomjoynerfoundation.org.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.