The National Science Foundation and Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant investigators are UHD assistant professors Judith Quander, from left, Jacqueline Sack, Timothy Redl and Nancy Leveille. Associate professor Michael Connell is research evaluator.
The National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program has awarded the University of Houston-Downtown $1.08 million to fund the UHD-Noyce Mathematics Teacher Scholarship Program over five years to prepare future middle and high school mathematics teachers for Houston-area classrooms.
UHD’s award is designed to provide 30 undergraduate scholarships for juniors and senior mathematics majors who are preparing to teach grades 6-12. The program is a joint venture between UHD’s Departments of Computer and Mathematical Sciences and Urban Education, the Aldine and Alief Independent School Districts and Houston Community College-Central Campus.
“Our main goal is to recruit students who are interested in mathematics, but who also are really committed to teaching,” said Judith Quander, principal investigator for the grant. “We know, in general, Texas has a need for math teachers. If we have better math teachers in secondary schools, we will have students who are better prepared and who will be more successful when they reach college.”
Historically, many graduates with math majors eventually become teachers, but they arrive there indirectly, Quander said. They go into industry and find it unfulfilling or not what they expected. They reach the classroom through alternative certification programs and miss the opportunities available through a regular certification program, she said.
“We wanted to give math majors the incentive to start earlier in giving some thought to teaching as a career. UHD’s urban education department is so good at preparing teachers for urban schools with courses, field experience and partnerships that scholarship recipients will graduate with a strong mathematics background and strong preparation for teaching in Houston-area schools,” she said.
Students who receive the scholarships will be eligible for up to $12,000 a year for two years. Students commit to teaching for two years in a high-needs school district for each year of scholarship they receive. The program will also have a summer component. Students interested in the program can serve as student mentors with Houston PREP, a summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program for high school students, to get a sense of what teaching is like, she said.
“If we give undergraduates the early experiences in the summer to show them how cool teaching can be, they get the teaching bug,” she said. “They can see what it really means to be a teacher and they can be thoughtful about choosing it as a career as opposed to seeing teaching as a fallback option.”
UHD has another Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program under way to train science teachers. That grant is for $889,000 and involves the UHD Departments of Natural Science and Urban Education, the Aldine Independent School District, the Harmon Academy of Science and the Houston Urban Network for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Students can apply in the spring for the fall semester. While the scholarship is limited to juniors and seniors, the summer mentor program is open to underclassmen. For information contact Quander at 713-226-5281 or email email@example.com.