Pacific University STEM Teacher Pathways Program Awarded $1.4 Million by National Science Foundation

Pacific University has received a National Science Foundation award of more than $1.4 million to expand the university's highly successful and innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching licensure program offered through its College of Education at the Woodburn Campus.

Dr. Kevin Carr, program director and professor of education, said the project, "Creating Community-Based STEM Teacher Pathways,” promotes K-12 student participation and success in STEM education — and subsequently opens the door to career opportunities in high-paying STEM fields — by providing local communities with outstanding STEM teachers. Key partners in the five-year project include Chemeketa Community College and the Woodburn School District.

The NSF grant, part of its Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, provides direct support for students in Pacific’s STEM Teacher Pathways program. That program offers students a master of arts in teaching that combines endorsements in middle- and high-school science and math, as well as ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages).

This is the third such NSF grant awarded to Pacific's STEM Teacher Pathways program, which has produced more than 80 high school math and science teachers since 2011. The program currently has a 95 percent employment success rate for graduates following completion.

Among those successful teaching candidates is Denise Aquino, who will graduate this May with her MAT in STEM/ESOL from the Woodburn-based program. Aquino earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Pacific in 2018. She initially planned to be a researcher, but while volunteering, she recognized the need for more Latina science experts in the classroom. In the last year, she’s completed the MAT STEM/ESOL program and secured a job in Molalla, Ore., the community where she grew up.

The $1.4 million grant will support 60 additional Pacific Noyce Scholars over the next five years, awarding each up to $25,000 to lower the cost of becoming a teacher. "The program will provide the resources and support needed to expand access to rural Oregon, where many science and math teachers are in need of teacher licensure," Carr said.

By combining the Noyce Scholarship with support through the Pacific Scholarships in Mathematics and Sciences (PSiMS) program, a current community college student could receive more than $32,000 during their college years to become a STEM teacher.

Applications are now open to become a Pacific Noyce Scholar and start becoming a STEM teacher as soon as June 24, 2019.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019