New program allows STEM majors to teach in underperforming schools after graduation

A new program will prepare students to teach science, technology, engineering and math courses at underperforming schools after graduation.

The program will give participants scholarships and teacher training during their junior and senior years and prepare them to become licensed teachers in D.C. and 48 states across the country, according to a University release.

A five year $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will fund the project. Beginning next academic year about 25 STEM students will receive $20,000 a year plus training stipends to participate in the program, according to the release.

The program will eventually accommodate around 500 students, according to the release.

Larry Medsker, a research professor of physics who will direct the new program, said the project will provide opportunities for students to help struggling school districts, something that already interests many students on campus.

“We’re starting with a group who are interested in high needs schools already and then introducing the idea of becoming teachers,” he said.

The program will work with offices like the Honey W. Nashman Center of Civic Engagement and Public Service, which Medsker said already employs students that want to help troubled schools, even if those students aren’t interested in a teaching career.

Medsker is also the associate director of GWTeach, the only undergraduate program for education at GW. He said he would promote the new program to students that already volunteer in underperforming schools.

He said the same program would also be offered at Northern Virginia Community College in Loudon, Va. The partnership with the community college would give students there a chance to get teacher training that otherwise might be too expensive, he said

The program’s leaders may also expand their partnerships to other community colleges in the area because those students bring a different perspective to teaching STEM fields, Medsker said.

“They tend to be more diverse because we include first generation college in the criteria, minorities, and, in some fields, women,” he said. “From community college, the general population is different from GW.”

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