Webster Awarded $124,000 STEM Educator Grant

The National Science Foundation awarded Webster University with a $124,454 Noyce capacity-building grant. The title of this project is “Laying the Groundwork for Dual-degree Pathways for Educating STEM Teachers Bound for Success,” or Webster Educating STEM Teachers Bound for Success (WESTbound Success). Anton S.(Tony) Wallner, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, is the Principal Investigator on this grant along with two co-Principal Investigators, Ravin Kodikara in Biological Sciences and DJ Kaiser, Associate Dean in the School of Education. Other key faculty on this grant are Victoria McMullen, Jennifer Bond (adjunct faculty member in Department of Teacher Education), and Marty Smith, Chair of Math & Computer Science, in the School of Business and Technology. Several other staff and faculty in the School of Education contributed to the planning and writing of this grant application.

This grant will be a collaboration between the School of Education, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Business & Technology. Beginning April 1 we will have funding for a year to prepare ourselves to apply for a full Track 1 Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (please see http://www.nsfnoyce.org). Full Noyce grants for institutions can be as high as $1.5 million for a five-year period. Much of the funding that we have received for this capacity-building grant will provide salary savings to the School of Education, in addition to adding to the indirect costs that the School of Education already receives for the PNC and NPD grants.

The Noyce program “provides funding to institutions of higher education to provide scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers.” Similar to some other funding opportunities in teacher preparation, grant recipients then have a service requirement after the grant, in this case teaching in a high-need school for two years for each year of the scholarship. Our goal with this capacity-building grant is to ensure that Webster University is prepared to recruit, admit, advise, support, and mentor students who will both major in a STEM field (at Webster that would be biology, chemistry, math, or computer science) and complete initial teaching certification (which at Webster means that they will double major in education). Additionally we will focus on increasing the diversity of our teacher candidates and preparing teacher candidates to be successful and persevere in high-need schools.