With a foundational grant, Elmhurst University is opening new pathways for students to become STEM teachers.
The National Science Foundation awarded a Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program capacity-building grant to the University in May of 2020, with related work scheduled to continue into the upcoming Fall Term and beyond. The grant has allowed Elmhurst’s Department of Education to step up its recruiting and develop a diverse new generation of career science and math teachers—addressing a critical area of need in Illinois.
For transfer students, the grant also created roadmaps to complete a degree in biology, chemistry, math or physics while also earning their licensure to teach those subjects in school. These “degree maps” deepen Elmhurst’s existing partnerships with the College of DuPage, Harper College and Triton College.
Another goal of the grant is to help recruit students of color so that the teacher ranks can better reflect the demographics of Illinois schoolchildren.
“This grant is not only putting an emphasis on STEM education but also on ensuring we have a diverse teaching force,” says Theresa Robinson, principal investigator on the grant coordinator and director of secondary and middle grades education at Elmhurst. “It gave us an opportunity to support the work we’re doing in our exceptional teacher education program.
“Teaching is one of the best professions in the world, and we have one of the best programs in the area.”
As for what’s next, Robinson says Elmhurst plans to apply for a follow-up NSF grant that would provide prospective students in the education program with scholarships and stipends to earn their degrees and become STEM teachers.
Meanwhile, the University will host its annual STEM Academy virtually this summer, from July 26–Aug. 6.