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LUC-Noyce Scholars launches a new Mentoring Program for Science & Math Teachers

LUC-Noyce Scholars launches a new Mentoring Program for Science & Math Teachers

Dr. Lara Smetana with Scholars Audrey Brinkers and Scarlett Chan at the Midwest Noyce Regional meeting in St. Louis.

Loyola is one of the recipients of the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program’s competitive grants, thanks to the hard work Dr. Lara Smetana, Associate Professor in the School of Education, put into securing it.

“I’m thrilled Loyola has been one of the sites for the past four years,” said Smetana. We continue to hear that Masters in Secondary Education students chose Loyola because of the opportunity to be part of our Noyce program.” The program’s goals are two-fold: 1. To encourage, recruit, prepare and support math and science teachers for high need, underserved settings, and 2. To study the link between preparation and success in the classroom. “We follow people longitudinally to figure out what’s working in our programs and partnerships and where we can improve,” said Smetana. “One thing we know is a need, in this program or any, is strong mentorship for novice teachers as they enter their own classrooms. So, starting this year, we added in a small, more personalized professional development and mentoring program. That’s on top of the professional development opportunity offered through Noyce at the national level and through the Midwest group. We are delighted that Ms. Krishna Millsapp, a doctoral student in the Curriculum & Instruction program, can share her deep experience as a high school science teacher by serving as a mentor for the LUC-Noyce Scholars. She offers one-on-one support for the first-year teachers as well as leads monthly meet-up groups for all current Scholars and Alumni. This is a fantastic way to build a network and support system and serve as a professional learning community, which is a great boost for the Scholars.”

Scholars are required to complete two years of teaching in a high-need school district for each year of financial support, and can choose anywhere in the US that meets that definition set by NSF. So far, everyone who has gone through Loyola’s program has chosen to stay in state and is doing outstanding work at CPS schools like Bowen, Clemente, Curie Metropolitan, Juarez Community Academy, Mather, Sullivan, Uplift Community, and Washington. Another measure of success that the program hoped to achieve is contributing to the increased diversity and sheer number of STEM-savvy candidates that have the credentials that make them attractive to local school hiring managers. “Racial diversity of the teaching force is still a challenge, both at Loyola and nationwide. However, we are very much committed to figuring out how to attract and retain a more diverse candidate pool. It can be done. The majority of the math scholars in the program are women, which is pretty unusual at the high school level. That kind of gender diversity is great to see, and we’re eager to replicate that across other different demographic characteristics.” Ultimately, the program encourages science and math majors and professionals to consider teaching. “We’re helping grow a pool of people with a passion to make a difference, and that’s a very rewarding thing to be a part of,” said Smetana.

Visit our LUC Noyce Scholars Page to learn more.

For more information about the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship programs, visit https://www.nsfnoyce.org/.

 2020 Noyce Scholars