TSU Receives $1.2 Million NSF Grant to Inspire Students to Teach Math, Science in Schools

NSF_logoNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Math and Science teachers are desperately needed in schools in Nashville and across the state to help prepare the country’s youth for a labor market dominated by jobs in science and technology.

Tennessee State University will now be doing its part to inspire students to teach in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, when it was recently announced that the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences was awarded $1.2 million to support and prepare STEM majors to become K-12 teachers.

Dr. Elaine Martin, associate professor of Biology, College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. Martin and her team of professors and instructors won a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to encourage students to teach science and math to elementary, middle and high school students in high-need districts. (courtesy photo)
Dr. Elaine Martin, associate professor of Biology, College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. Martin and her team of professors and instructors won a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to encourage students to teach science and math to elementary, middle and high school students in high-need districts. (courtesy photo)

Funded through the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, the grant will support “Project Tiger Teach,” a new program designed to help train students majoring in biology, chemistry or mathematics receive their teacher certification, who will in turn, land jobs teaching in high-need school districts.

The program, according to Dr. Elaine Martin, associate professor of Biology and director of the project, will be a collaborative partnership between the University and the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools System. The goals of the partnership are to increase the number of highly-qualified certified, high school STEM teachers in high-need schools in the Nashville area, increase teacher diversity with emphasis on recruiting African-American male STEM teachers, and provide four years of mentoring and professional development opportunities to graduates.

“This is a great opportunity for TSU to recruit and support students with strong science and math backgrounds into higher education,” added Martin. “Over the next four years, the Noyce grant will allow us to recruit individuals into the program with strong STEM backgrounds who might otherwise not have considered a career in K-12 teaching.”

Another outcome of the project will be to place teachers from underrepresented groups such as African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans into the same type classroom category and increase the student-to-teacher ratio of both groups.

“A recent survey of students enrolled in biology and mathematics courses at TSU revealed that 30 percent are interested in considering teaching math or science in K-12 schools,” said Martin, “while 40 percent would consider obtaining teacher licensure in math or science if they could obtain it within their four-year college program.

“Additionally, an overwhelming 66 percent of participants surveyed would consider obtaining a teaching license and teach at least five years in K-12 schools if full tuition and a summer internship were provided. Through this program, we anticipate an increase in high school and post-secondary graduation rates that will address Tennessee’s and the nation’s shortage of STEM professionals.”

When the program kicks off, scholarship money will support a total of 40 undergraduate students over the next four years to go through Project Tiger Teach. Each year, three students majoring in biology, two in chemistry and five in mathematics will be assisted by the program.

Students wishing to apply for the program must have completed 60 credit hours with a minimum GPA of 3.0.  The Noyce grant provides scholarships in the amount of $12,000 per year for a period of two years for the future classroom leaders to complete their degrees with teacher certification.  They must agree to teach two years for each year of scholarship support in a “high needs” school district in Tennessee and the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

Participants will also take part in summer institutes that include tutoring high school students in the Regents Math Academy and Tennessee State University’s Math and Science Center. By the end of their sophomore year, Noyce Scholars are admitted to the teacher certification program in biology, chemistry or mathematics.

Before their senior year, students must then complete four educational courses and all required content courses in preparation for the MNPS high school-based Residency I and Residency II.

“The extended residency will produce highly-qualified teachers who have mastered content knowledge, and understand the learning process and application of assessment results to improve instruction,” added Martin.

Along with Martin, the grant was awarded to co-directors Dr. Jeanetta Jackson, Department of Mathematics; Dr. Heraldo Richards, College of Education; and Dr. Artenzia Young-Seigler, Department of Biological Sciences.

“This project will be a boost to the College’s STEM education and teacher preparation efforts, particularly for minority populations,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. “This is a prestigious grant our faculty received that will give us the opportunity to work together with Metro School system in preparing and in serving their STEM teacher needs. It is a win-win project for TSU and the community.”

The Noyce scholarship is named for Robert Noyce, co-founder of Intel Corp and the scientist awarded the 1961 patent for the integrated semiconductor. The scholarship was funded through the NSF Authorization Act of 2002 in response to a critical need for teachers in science and math.



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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 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 celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu