Webster Granted $124,000 to Encourage More to Become STEM Teachers in Missouri Schools

Feb. 11, 2019

Webster Granted $124,000 to Encourage More to Become STEM Teachers in Missouri Schools
Webster University received a $124,000 grant to encourage more to become STEM Teachers in Missouri Schools

ST. LOUIS – Webster University was awarded a $124,000 National Science Foundation Noyce Capacity-Building grant to encourage talented science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors to become math and science teachers in high-need Missouri K-12 schools, addressing a critical need in the state. The grant also will help Webster prepare to apply for a Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships and Stipends grant, which would allow Webster to administer scholarships to teacher candidates majoring in a STEM field.

The new program created by the grant – Webster’s Educating STEM Teachers Bound for Success (WESTbound Success) – will be jointly administered by faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Education, in collaboration with faculty from the Department of Math & Computer Science in the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology and numerous community organizations. The program starts on April 1.

“Webster University is committed to helping the community meet unmet needs.  In the St. Louis region, we know there is a need for more individuals with STEM-related degrees, which depends in part on students' preparation in Missouri's K-12 schools,” said Webster University President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “This grant will greatly contribute to addressing the need for math and science teachers in high-need school districts, and we are grateful for NSF support and the teamwork with our community partners.”

The WESTbound Success grant team worked and consulted with various community partners in writing this grant, including St. Louis Community College, Forest Park; Ritenour School District; the Academy of Science, St. Louis; and the Urban League. Representatives from these organizations will serve on an advisory board at Webster University to guide the development of new programs and resources funded by the grant. 

“This grant is a significant achievement for Webster University,” said Julian Schuster, Webster’s provost, chief operating officer and senior vice president. “Its importance, however, extends beyond the walls of the university.  Our collaboration with neighboring and local partners will assure the strong impact that the execution of this grant will bring to our community.”

Tony Wallner, dean of Webster University’s College of Arts & Sciences; DJ Kaiser, associate dean of Webster University’s School of Education; and Ravin Kodikara, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, will serve as the primary investigators for WESTbound Success. Martha Smith, professor and chair of the Department of Math & Computer Science; Victoria McMullen, professor in the Department of Teacher Education; and Jennifer Bond, adjunct professor in the Department of Teacher Education will act as key faculty collaborators on the grant team.

Teresa Alvarez, chair of Biological Science at St. Louis Community College - Forest Park, served as a key collaborator with Webster University in pursuing this grant. She will chair the advisory board to provide additional guidance on how the grant can meet the needs of incoming transfer students.

 “We are excited to pull from the strengths of our faculty who teach in STEM and Education programs to accomplish the goals of this new program,” said Wallner, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “We look forward to seeing how we learn from each other to strengthen STEM knowledge and exploring ways to teach it to the next generation.”

“Many faculty and staff contributed to the writing of this proposal,” added School of Education Associate Dean DJ Kaiser. “It was a real collaborative effort across schools and colleges at Webster University and with our many community partners to see how we can combine STEM and Education to meet the needs of diverse learners in today’s schools.”

At the end of the program, Webster will apply for the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Grant, which if successful, would provide scholarships for juniors and seniors that major in a STEM field and seek teaching certification in the state of Missouri. The work completed for the WESTbound Success grant will lay the groundwork to meet the conditions of the Robert Noyce grant.

For more information about the College of Arts & Sciences, visit http://www.webster.edu/arts-and-sciences/. For more information about the School of Education, visit http://www.webster.edu/education.

This grant is supported by NSF award DUE-1851969.

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