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Source: Larry Scharmann, 785-532-6938,
News release prepared by: Nellie Ryan, 785-532-6415,

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009


MANHATTAN -- A new scholarship will help Kansas State University science majors who want to become certified teachers.

K-State TEACH is a collaboration between the university's departments of secondary education, physics, geology, chemistry and biology. It is funded by the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, which awarded K-State $875,000 over a five-year period. The program is designed to increase the supply of highly qualified middle- and high-school teachers in the science areas.

"Science teaching nationally and in the state of Kansas are both underserved," said Larry Scharmann, professor and head of the department of secondary education. "We want to try and attract a population that wouldn't necessarily be attracted using normal channels. This grant is not available to students in the College of Education, as we have our own sources of support for them. This is to attract an extended population of teachers."

Through K-State TEACH, freshmen and sophomores majoring in a science field with a possible interest in teaching are eligible for paid summer internships in various teaching-related positions both on and off campus. These internships help students further explore their interest in teaching and could help attract them to the teaching field, Scharmann said.

Juniors or seniors currently completing a baccalaureate science degree or postbaccalaureates holding a science degree are eligible to apply for the Robert Noyce Scholarships. The awards range from $13,000 to $15,000 per year for up to two years. After being accepted into the program, students are required to complete a semester internship experience in a public school.

Graduate students will actually be part of the College of Education's graduate certificate program, which is open to most academic majors. It gives graduate students a way to become certified teachers without going back and completing another undergraduate degree, Scharmann said.

Because many of these students have full-time jobs or graduate teaching positions, the scholarship is a way for them to afford giving up their jobs to obtain the teaching certificate, Scharmann said.

"When the student goes to complete their semester-long internship, they must give up their current job," Scharmann said. "Not only are they losing their job, but they also have to pay tuition, so this is a double debt -- no money coming in, yet lots of money going out. This scholarship gave us the opportunity to offset that cost."

Upon completion of the TEACH program, scholarship recipients are required to teach two years in a high needs school district for each year of scholarship received. A high-needs school district is defined as serving a high percentage of individuals from families with incomes below the poverty line, a high percentage of English language learners, and/or a high percentage of rural populations.

"High-needs school districts often have a tough time recruiting new teachers, especially in the sciences," Scharmann said. "A lot of times in small, rural schools you will see teachers teaching subjects out of their discipline -- such as a biology teacher in a physics classroom. By attracting these new teachers we hope to close this gap."

Students interested in the K-State TEACH Program can contact the department of secondary education at 785-532-6938.

Scharmann is the principal investigator of the K-State TEACH grant. Co-principal investigators include Carolyn Ferguson, associate professor of biology; Christopher Culbertson, associate professor of chemistry; N. Sanjay Rebello, associate professor of physics; and Iris Totten, associate professor of geology.