WASHINGTON – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, announced today that the University of California Santa Cruz has received a $1.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a teacher training initiative aimed at preparing future math and science teachers. The grant will be used to enhance the existing Noyce Scholarship program at UCSC, which supports students who are committed to teach math and science in local high-need school districts.
“I think it’s wonderful the NSF is supporting STEM education in our community,” said Congressman Farr. “Without talented math and science teachers, students on the Central Coast will be hard-pressed to meet the challenges of an evolving economy and a warming planet.”
One of the problems that UCSC and the NSF are hoping to solve is the shortage of teachers for STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, just as those subjects are becoming increasingly important in today’s economy. STEM education is critical to prepare students for a competitive and evolving job market. Furthermore, the Central Coast and the country as a whole will need more high school and college graduates with STEM educations to solve problems like climate change and energy independence.
An important aspect of the NSF grant is how it helps UCSC work on issues that are relevant to the local community. The grant supports partnerships between UCSC, seven community colleges, and four high-need school districts to enhance recruitment and retention of new teachers in key areas of district shortages, according to Gretchen Andreasen, director of UCSC's California Teach Program (Cal Teach) and principal investigator on the grant.
The NSF grant will also support transfer students to UCSC from community colleges in the region, providing up to ten transfer students with three years of funding to attain a degree and teaching credential.
"We have had success so far putting good math and science teachers in schools around the region, and the new Noyce Scholarship funds will help us collaborate effectively with the community colleges," said Gretchen Andreasen, director of UCSC's California Teach Program (Cal Teach). "Community colleges are often in high-need communities, and the prospective teachers we recruit tend to go back to those communities to teach."
Although the grant primarily goes towards scholarships for UCSC undergraduates, it will also help fund a new UCSC program in Silicon Valley that will train and award teaching credentials to Silicon Valley tech-professionals wanting to change careers and become teachers. In addition, the NSF grant will help expand the Cal Teach internship program, which gives UCSC and community college students the chance to gain intensive K-12 teaching experience. Funding for research into the outcomes of the new programs will also be provided by the grant itself.