Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor
A new scholarship is available for University of Lynchburg students who want to be STEM teachers. According to the University’s website, “The Noyce Scholarship Program for STEM Teachers provides unique opportunities to students who want to teach STEM subjects in today’s diverse classrooms. Qualified students receive outstanding scholarships during their junior and senior years of college that combine with other merit scholarships awarded by Lynchburg.”
Noyce Grant Pathway Coordinator at University of Lynchburg, Dr. Paula Lichiello, explained, “The National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Scholarship for 2019-2024 is for students who major in chemistry, biology, physics, environmental science, or mathematics education. This NSF grant provides significant scholarship support ($10,000 to $20,000 per year) to eligible college students in their junior and senior years. In return, students commit to two years of teaching in grades 7-12 in a high-need school division in Virginia for every year of scholarship support.”
Abigael Lyons, the first recipient of the new scholarship, said, “I am one of those people who cannot stand unread emails in my inbox so during this summer, I got an email about a math scholarship and it caught my eye before I archived it. I looked into it and saw the requirements and thought it was too good to be true. I have written close to 10 applications for scholarships before this one and they never panned out, but I am glad I applied to this one.”
According to the website, the scholarship also includes an experienced STEM teacher mentor and workshops to help students prepare to teach and reach all students.
Dr. Lichiello said, “Having an experienced STEM teacher as a mentor allows students to build relationships, be exposed to classroom teaching experiences early on, and to gain firsthand knowledge, skills, and confidence from a veteran teacher. Beginning in spring 2020, two workshops will be offered on a rotating basis each spring and fall semester. Topics include the following: Understanding the Power of Expectations; Dealing with Serious Behavior in the Classroom; Universal Design for Learning; Using Technology Effectively with Struggling Learners; Engaging Students in Active Learning; Cross-Cultural Competency; Teaching Economically and Culturally Diverse Students; and Getting the Best from All Students.”
Lyons added, “[The scholarship] is a huge financial help for my family and me, but also the mentoring program that comes with it. I am so thankful that I will be able to have a mentor who can answer my millions of questions. I cannot wait to learn as much as I can and take advantage of what the program offers so I can be ready to teach when I go into the field.”
Lyons wants to be a high school math teacher after she graduates, though that was not her original plan coming into college. She explained, “I went to college with a criminal justice major, but I switched when I started tutoring my teammates in Algebra and Calculus and realized how good I was at it. They always said things like, ‘If my professor would have just explained it like you,” or “oh this is not as hard as I thought.’ I loved giving them confidence and explaining problems in different ways, so the next semester I took three math courses to catch myself up with the major and here I am!”
Currently, there is a shortage of STEM teachers around the country, so Dr. Lichiello sees the new scholarship as very fitting for Lynchburg. She said, “The current shortage of STEM teachers in the US, as well as in Virginia, can be attributed to teacher layoffs during the Great Recession, fewer people entering teacher preparation programs, and teacher attrition. This Noyce Scholarship aims to address the STEM teacher shortage in Virginia by recruiting students majoring in math and science who also have a passion for teaching.”
Lyons encouraged other students to apply for the scholarship. She said, “Yes, apply! It never hurts to apply to anything, since the worst that can happen is that your application gets rejected. It is free to apply so there is nothing to lose. They should know, however, that this scholarship requires them to teach in a high-need school in Virginia. So they cannot go teach right out of college in their home state, unless it is Virginia. It is a huge help if they want to stay in Virginia and be the best prepared for teaching they can be. There are workshops, mentors, and other activities specific for STEM teachers and I am so thankful to be a part of it.”
Dr. Lichello concluded, “The Noyce Scholarship offers an affordable pathway to a rewarding career for twenty-two Noyce Scholars who want to make an impact on the future by teaching science and math students. I am excited to see how these highly qualified STEM teachers will serve as role models in diverse classrooms and increase STEM knowledge and skill levels for all of their students.”
If you would like to learn more about the Noyce Scholarship, you may visit lynchburg.edu/noyce or email email@example.com.