A new grant at Alcorn State University that focuses on preparing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students to enter the field of education will lead them a step closer to their dream.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Alcorn's School of Education and Psychology over $1.1 million in grant funding for the School's "Be Brave, Teach STEM: Building a Diverse Teacher STEM Workforce in Mississippi" program. The program is designed to follow the aim of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to ensure that talented STEM majors become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The NSF grant will allow the university to serve as a STEM educator hub for rural southwest Mississippi.
Dr. LaShundia Carson, who served as the principal investigator on the grant, acknowledged her colleagues' efforts in helping to secure the monumental grant. The grant will not only benefit Alcorn, but also surrounding school districts such as Adams, Claiborne, Jefferson, Warren, and Wilkinson counties.
"I feel very appreciative to have been a part of the team that worked diligently to provide a new pathway to assist junior and senior STEM majors in becoming STEM teacher candidates," said Carson. "After speaking with Dr. Malinda Butler (former associate dean of the School), I felt compelled to address the lack of STEM teachers in high-need school districts. All students deserve to have qualified teachers, so it is equally exciting that we will be able to assist partner school districts by increasing the number of STEM teachers needed in these critical shortage areas."
Carson also thanks Alcorn alumnus Dr. Mitchell Shears (‘98) for sharing his grant writing experience to help their alma mater.
The four components of the Be Brave program will consist of Marketing, Recruiting, and Selection; Pre-Noyce Scholars Support; Noyce Pre-Service Teacher-Scholars Support; and Novice Teachers Support. The program will also build on the conceptual framework for the School. The School will implement the 5E Instructional Model, which is considered to be one of the most innovative approaches for effective classroom instruction. This model will be embedded in the project activities and contributes to the conceptual understanding of science and mathematics in pre-service teachers.
The School will award 36 scholarships to junior and senior STEM majors. Upon accepting the scholarships, students will be required to serve as STEM teachers in high-need school districts. Carson gave a brief description of how the School plans to equip its STEM student teachers.
"We will provide scholars with mentoring, intrusive advising, teacher boot camps, workshops, and clinics. Students will also attend professional conferences and given support during their novice years as educators."
The project will allow the university to be creative in being strategically aligned with the strategies included in the Mississippi State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators and will serve as a national model for other minority-serving institutions, especially HBCUs.