NSF Grant Helps Fisher, FLCC Boost Rural Teacher Pipeline

October 16, 2019

St. John Fisher College, in partnership with Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC), aims to alleviate the teacher shortage in high-needs rural districts through its newly created Noyce INSPIRE Scholarship Program.

Educators and administrators from Fisher, FLCC, and area schools met in August to collaborate on the new Noyce INSPIRE Scholarship program.

Educators and administrators from Fisher, FLCC, and area schools met in August to collaborate on the new Noyce INSPIRE Scholarship program.

Supported by a $1,447,084 grant from the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, Fisher’s iteration of the program will support the recruitment of 20 undergraduates who will earn bachelor of arts degrees in a STEM field—biology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics—while also majoring in inclusive adolescent education.

“The grant provides an opportunity for Fisher undergraduates to give back to their community and serve as role models,” said Dr. Kermin Martínez-Hernández, associate professor of chemistry at Fisher, who serves as the principal investigator for the grant.

Fisher will work with FLCC to recruit students from rural, high-need areas as Noyce INSPIRE Scholars, and will place particular effort on attracting those transferring from community colleges. Students awarded the scholarship will receive significant tuition assistance in both junior and senior years of study, helping to alleviate the financial barriers to obtaining a teaching degree. The first cohort of scholars will enroll in fall 2020.

“As a community college, we focus on supporting our students and the opportunity to extend this support into their teaching practice is one more way that we can fuel the vitality of our region,” said Kellie Gauvin, associate professor of science and technology at FLCC, who will lead recruitment and marketing of the program at FLCC. She will also oversee the education club at FLCC, create case studies on self-care for teachers, develop a training module on integrating college readiness into teaching, and coordinate delivery of a poverty simulation at FLCC.

Dr. Edward Freeman, associate professor of biology, Dr. Susan Hildenbrand, associate dean of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, and Dr. Michael Wischnowski, dean of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, will also support the program. Wischnowski in particular will oversee external relationships with partner schools and FLCC, and convene and serve on the grant’s advisory board. The grant was secured in collaboration with the Office of Sponsored Research.

Noyce INSPIRE Scholars will conduct their student teaching and fieldwork placements among four districts—Sodus, Geneva, Penn Yan, and North Rose-Wolcott—all located in the rural Finger Lakes region.

Fisher is one of the only NSF Noyce programs that will provide trauma sensitivity training to its scholars. Led by Hildenbrand, this training calls on teachers to have a deeper understanding of the social, emotional, physical, and socioeconomic lives their students have outside of the classroom, in turn creating school communities where behavioral issues are managed by problem-solving. This enhanced training will prepare them to meet the needs of rural, high-need school districts. Scholars will participate in workshops and panel discussions, network building activities, service opportunities, and conference attendance.

The NSF funding will also allow Fisher to create post-graduation programming for scholars, offering them additional, hands-on support and mentoring in their first year of teaching.

“The program will prepare Noyce INSPIRE Scholars for any challenges they may encounter in the classroom, allowing them to more fully focus on the needs of the school community,” Martínez-Hernández said. “It’s our goal to provide them with the best teacher training possible.”

Prospective students and current Fisher undergraduates interested in learning more about the Noyce INSPIRE Scholarship can email Dr. Martínez-Hernández at kmartinez-hernandez@sjfc.edu  or call (585) 385-8379. FLCC students can email Professor Gauvin at kellie.gauvin@flcc.edu or call (585) 785-1387. More information can also be found at https://go.sjfc.edu/noyce.

NSF NOYCE Grant Program

The National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science (including engineering and computer science) teachers. The program invites creative and innovative proposals that address the critical need for recruiting and preparing highly effective elementary and secondary science and mathematics teachers in high-need local educational agencies.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1852690. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.