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Researchers Receive Funding For Project Supporting STEM Educators

 Mason researchers part of the STEM educators grant
(L-R) Tina Bell, Julia Nord, Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, Andrew Gilbert

Julia Nord, Professor, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences; Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs and Professor, Mathematical Sciences, College of Science; Andrew Gilbert, Associate Professor, Elementary Education; Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, Director, Educational and Career Pathways, Academic Affairs, and Tina Bell, Assistant Professor, STEM Accelerator, Biology, received funding from the National Science Foundation for the project: "Supporting, Mentoring and Retaining New STEM Secondary Educators Through Major Transitions from Recruitment to Highly Effective Teacher." 

This proposal aims to increase the number of Mason and Virginia Community College System students who choose STEM secondary teaching careers. It also aims to mentor them through their first year of teaching and support them to be highly effective in-service teachers to their fourth year and beyond.  

This project at Mason includes partnerships with the Virginia Community College System, Prince William County schools, and Fairfax County schools.  

The goals of the project include supporting and mentoring 35 prospective teachers through their major education and career transitions as future STEM secondary teachers, including their induction into teaching and initial years of service. 

Recruitment efforts will include working with the Virginia Community College System to develop innovative programming in career development workshops, as well as leveraging a partnership with the University Career Services Industry Specialists for STEM and education sectors.  

A novel element of this project is that the College of Science Learning Assistant program will serve as a pool for recruitment of undergraduate STEM students into K-12 teaching. The Learning Assistant Seminar enables these students to build a basic skillset in effective teaching by learning skills in the seminar and practicing them in the classroom. Recruited potential secondary teachers in STEM, majoring in biology, chemistry, and physics, will be financially supported with scholarships in their junior, senior, and graduate years.   

Finally, a network called, TeacherTeams, will be formed and led by successful Mason Noyce

program alumni who are teaching in high-need schools and want to support upcoming teachers. Subject areas of TeacherTeams will include: earth science, math/physics/information technology, biology, and chemistry.  

This project is supported through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. The Noyce program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, exemplary K-12 teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. It also supports research on the persistence, retention, and effectiveness of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts. 

The researchers received $1,198,861 from NSF for this project. Funding began in April 2021 and will end in late March 2026.  

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