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Source: Larry Scharmann, 785-532-5904,
Web site:
News release prepared by: Nellie Ryan, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, March 4, 2010


MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University's department of secondary education is awarding three students special scholarships created to attract science majors to the teaching discipline.

The K-State TEACH scholarships are a collaboration between the departments of secondary education, physics, geology and chemistry and the K-State Division of Biology.

K-State TEACH is funded by the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, which awarded K-State $875,000 over a five-year period in an effort to increase the supply for highly qualified middle and high school teachers in the sciences.

The spring recipients of the K-State TEACH scholarship are Kristen Schweitzer, graduate student in education, Manhattan; Kenya Patzer, graduate student in curriculum and instruction, Topeka; and Amy Hageman, master's student in nuclear engineering, Zenda.

Each recipient is in the process of completing the graduate certificate in teaching and learning. As part of the certificate program, each student is required to complete a semester internship experience in a public school.

Schweitzer is a 1992 graduate of K-State with a bachelor's degree in biology. She worked at local laboratories for more than 15 years before deciding to go back to school to get a teaching certificate in secondary science.

"I felt it was time for me to pursue a career in which I could contribute something back to society and share my love of science," she said.

Schweitzer said as a mother of three children she could not afford child care and student teach for a semester, but that the TEACH scholarship now makes it possible.

Patzer earned a bachelor's degree in violin performance from the University of Denver in 2000 and a master's in music from Rice University in 2002. Before deciding to go back to school for a teaching certificate in physics and mathematics, Patzer worked at the Kansas State Fire Marshal's office. She said her interest in teaching goes back to her childhood.

"Both my parents were teachers, so I grew up seeing them in action," Patzer said. "It wasn't until I was 31 or 32 before I realized all my activities seemed to involve teaching -- whether tutoring, teaching music or doing fire service training. I finally recognized that I love teaching, and what I loved teaching most were those things related to science."

Hageman previously earned a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from K-State, and is now working on a master's in nuclear engineering. She said she chose to pursue a graduate teaching certificate because of a strong feeling of social commitment, which goes back to her service in the U.S. Navy.

"During my time in the Navy I worked as an instructor for enlisted and officer students learning to operate nuclear power plants," she said. "Of the many responsibilities I had, my direct interaction with students was the most rewarding. After leaving the Navy, I worked as a substitute teacher and volunteered in my daughter's classroom. I enjoyed my time in the classroom."

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