TSU wins grant to help funnel STEM grads into teaching

Four-year program lauching in collaboration with MNPS

Tennessee State University officials have secured a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to launch a program that will train biology, chemistry and math majors to earn teacher certifications.

The grant, funded by the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, is part of a broad national push to steer STEM graduates into high-needs K-12 school districts hungry for talent. Locally, the efforts by TSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences — dubbed “Project Tiger Teach” and directed by Elaine Martin, associate professor of biology — will look to improve teacher diversity by emphasizing the recruitment of African-American male STEM teachers who will receive four years of mentoring and professional development opportunities to graduates. TSU officials will collaborate with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools leaders on the project.

Martin said a recent survey of TSU biology and math students showed that 30 percent are interested in considering teaching math or science in K-12 schools and that two out of five would consider becoming licensed as a teacher during their four-year program.

“Additionally, an overwhelming 66 percent of participants surveyed would consider obtaining a teaching license and teach at least five years in K-12 schools if full tuition and a summer internship were provided,” Martin said. “Through this program, we anticipate an increase in high school and post-secondary graduation rates that will address Tennessee’s and the nation’s shortage of STEM professionals.”

Through the NSF, Project Tiger Teach will support 10 undergrads each year, three of them majoring in biology, two in chemistry and five in math. Students must agree to teach two years for each year of scholarship support.