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NSF Grant prepares exemplary STEM teacher leaders for urban schools

NSF grant prepares STEM teacher leaders

The University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education and Human Development, in partnership with the College of Arts & Sciences, has received a five-year $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to strengthen science and math teaching and learning in high-need schools in western New York.

The funding will support and offer a new round of Noyce Master Teaching Fellowships (MTF) for secondary mathematics and science teachers from five partner districts — Elmira, Hornell, Jamestown, Rochester, and Salamanca. Selected fellows will join fellows from three previous UR Noyce MTF projects with districts in the region to affect change in STEM learning for colleagues and students.

This new project, “Developing Digitally-Rich Urban Teacher Leaders: Fostering and Sustaining a STEM Culture of Belonging, Access, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” — abbreviated as “Be-A-JEDI” — will provide graduate coursework, mentored experiences, and professional learning to 19 Master Teaching Fellows over five years. The intention is to prepare teacher leaders to serve as agents of change in STEM teaching and learning while incorporating digitally-rich practices in the teaching and learning of science and math.

“This is an exciting opportunity to expand our existing UR Noyce community with a new project that foregrounds issues of equity and inclusion for all students in STEM while simultaneously supporting teachers to incorporate digitally-rich practices in the teaching and learning of science and math,” says Cynthia Callard, a professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Warner School. “Our goal is to address the inequities that exist in urban science and mathematics classrooms, many of which have been exacerbated by disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The project leadership team, led by Callard, is currently recruiting a cohort of 19 certified teachers from the five partnering districts to participate in the five-year program where they will earn a second master’s degree in Inclusion and Special Education at the Warner School, as well as three advanced certificates in Teacher Leadership, Urban Teaching & Leadership, and Digitally-Rich Teaching and Learning in K-12 Schools. Accepted mathematics and science teachers will receive an annual stipend of $12,000 from the grant for four years of the five-year program, in addition to their teaching salaries, as well as a full-tuition waiver for the graduate coursework.

The program will be offered in a hybrid model, with all coursework and professional learning experiences offered online in combination with multiple-day, onsite immersive experiences in the summer led by faculty in the UR Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. Technology will be used both to support the learning of fellows based on “lessons learned” in providing high-quality online professional learning and to support fellows’ meaningful use of technology to increase STEM learning opportunities for their students and to Be-A-JEDI in STEM reform.

Callard is the principal investigator on the team, which includes co-principal investigators Michael Daley, associate professor and director of the Center for Professional Development and Education Reform; Raffaella Borasi, Frederica Warner Professor and director of the Center for Learning in the Digital Age; Andrea Cutt, assistant professor in educational leadership; John Kessler, professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences; as well as professional learning, digital learning, and equity and inclusion experts in the Warner School’s Center for Professional Development and Education Reform and Center for Learning in the Digital Age. The team will collaborate with the Rochester Museum and Science Center to help design and support fellows' learning experiences throughout the project. In particular, the Cumming Nature Center will be used as a site for fellows to engage in authentic learning experiences in the summer.

This NSF funding is the fourth NSF-funded MTF grant, totaling over $7.5 million, awarded to the Warner School over the past 15 years. The Noyce MTF program is designed to support master teachers (fellows) to serve as models, professional learning providers, and instructional leaders for their colleagues and pre-service teachers in high-need school districts.

Callard and the leadership team are excited to engage in this new venture with the partner districts to develop STEM teachers as leaders as they grow their knowledge and understanding of STEM reform, equity and inclusion issues, and digitally rich practices. Callard notes, “With this new project, we can continue to improve STEM education and foster the development of teacher leaders to work with their colleagues to create safe, inclusive, and culturally responsive STEM learning opportunities for all students.”

Learn more about the UR Noyce “Be-A-JEDI” project.