$900K grant to Holy Cross; NSF looks for science teachers.


Byline: Adrian Kun

WORCESTER - Receiving a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation is no easy task, especially for a small liberal arts school.

What may be even more unusual for the College of the Holy Cross is spending the money solely on attracting and training students to become schoolteachers - the grants typically go to engineering and science schools, not liberal arts colleges. Much of the money will be used for scholarships intended to attract upperclassmen to become teachers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Twenty students are expected to receive $19,000-a-year scholarships for two years. The students will be required to teach at school districts with high-need populations for four years after graduation. The program is scheduled to start in January and last five years.

"What we're trying to do is attract students to the STEM project," Beverley J.M. Bell, director of the Teacher Education Program, said. "Over the past 10 years we've licensed teachers and only had a small sprinkling of math and science teachers, which is what we need. Recently, we've been targeting students in those majors to consider teaching, trying to get hold of them in their first or second years. We want to show students teaching is a noble profession and the grant makes that possible."

She said the scholarships are a key ingredient for the project.

"Providing stipends of $19,000 in third and fourth years to offset students' fees really makes it attractive," she said. "This helps because you have students saying, `My parents didn't send me to Holy Cross only to come out with lots of debt' and then work on a teacher's salary."

The scholarships will be based on merit.

Holy Cross connects its students with Burncoat middle and high schools for the practicum teaching.

"We connect local teachers to our students, and more importantly, connect the content to teaching it," she said. "Yes, you may be smart, but can you teach it? Marriage between content and how to teach it is vital. We need them to know how to teach content."

The Holy Cross students will continue to receive mentoring after they graduate, via e-monitoring, which will feature a Web site that provides a safe space to share questions and information.


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