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Sources: Jacqueline Spears, 785-532-5530, jdspears@k-state.edu;
and Christopher Culbertson, 785-532-6685, culbert@k-state.edu
Note to editor: Stephanie Alderman-Oler is a graduate of Olathe North High School.
News release prepared by: Rosie Hoefling, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Thursday, April 28, 2011

GRADE-A TEACHERS: NOYCE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM DEVELOPS QUALITY KANSAS SCIENCE TEACHERS

MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University scholarship program for developing quality science teachers for Kansas is working, according to a K-State professor involved with the program.

K-State's Robert Noyce Scholarship Program was launched two years ago and is already having an impact, said Jacqueline Spears, professor of curriculum and instruction.

"The goal of the scholarship program is to produce licensed science or mathematics teachers who have completed more science courses than would normally be required for a secondary education major," said Spears, who is director of K-State's Center for Science Education.

The K-State TEACH: Robert Noyce Scholarship Program provides students with financial support while they work to obtain their degree or licensure to teach in schools. Noyce scholarships are available for students with a discipline in science, technology or engineering.

Scholarship recipients, upon completion of the program, are required to teach two years in a high-needs school district for each year of scholarship support received.

Quality science teachers are in demand in Kansas. Eighty-five percent of K-State's 2009-2010 secondary education graduates with a science specialization currently work in formal teaching positions in the state, according to statistics from the university's career and employment services.

The Noyce scholarship program is a partnership between the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences, specifically between the departments of curriculum and instruction, physics, geology, chemistry and biology.

Spears said this partnership is critical for the success of the program as well preparing students for their future in teaching.

"Teachers need two types of knowledge: knowledge of the content they teach and knowledge of the methods by which to help students learn this content," she said. "Both are critically important. The science departments in the College of Arts and Sciences ensure that future teachers develop the content knowledge they need. The College of Education ensures that future teachers develop the knowledge of human development, cultural diversity and teaching methods."

K-State's Christopher Culbertson, principal investigator for the program and associate professor of chemistry, said the program is beneficial because the more knowledge students can acquire in their future teaching field, the more comfortable and confident they will be when teaching the material.

"K-State has an excellent teacher education program and excellent programs in the science, technology and engineering fields supported by this grant. This is reflected in the National Science Foundation's decision to fund a Noyce Scholarship program here at K-State," Culbertson said.

Culbertson highlights two students currently in the program: Coral Boyd, senior in chemistry, mathematics and secondary education, Lindsborg, and Stephanie Alderman-Oler, senior in biology and education, Olathe. He said both students exhibit all of the qualities needed to be excellent future science teachers.

Additionally, Kenya Patzer, a past Noyce scholarship recipient and K-State graduate, received the Distinguished Staff Award for First Year Teachers at the Topeka Public Schools, the highest such honor for a first-year teacher in the Topeka school district.

This overall success of the Noyce scholarship program in the preparation of students and placement in teaching positions after college demonstrates K-State's commitment to its students and their futures, Spears said.

"It's important to realize that not every college and university has a Noyce grant," she said. "K-State went through a competitive grant process in order to receive the support. Receiving Noyce funding is a positive reflection on the quality of the institution and its faculty."

To be eligible to receive a Noyce scholarship, students must be a junior, senior or graduate student with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must meet the requirements for admission to the teacher education professional program and be enrolled as a full-time student during each academic year in which the award is received.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, awards range from $13,000 to 15,000 per year for up to two years. After being accepted into the program, students are also required to complete a semester-long internship experience in a public school.

In addition to Culbertson and Spears, K-State faculty involved with the K-State TEACH: Robert Noyce Scholarship Program include Carolyn Ferguson, associate professor of biology; Sanjay Rebello, associate professor of physics; and Iris Totten, associate professor of geology.