SMCC student among inaugural STEM Noyce Scholarship recipients

A Southern Maine Community College student is among the first recipients of a generous scholarship offered through a new program at St. Joseph’s College designed to bolster the number of science and math teachers across Maine.

The Growing Future STEM Teachers in Maine (GFSTM) program will provide two-year scholarships of $25,500 per year to a total of 18 undergraduate juniors and seniors to support their studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Secondary Education at St. Joseph’s College (SJC). The program is funded through a grant of nearly $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

Alia Bradley, who is transferring from SMCC to SJC this fall, is among the inaugural group of six GFSTM Noyce Scholars for the 2020-21 academic year. Upon graduation, the scholarship recipients will be prepared for careers in teaching STEM subjects in high-need urban and rural schools across Maine.

“Teaching STEM is more than preparing the next generation of professionals. It is about sharing the wonder and awe that is the natural world, while connecting natural phenomena to our everyday lives,” Bradley said.

The GFSTM program aims to grow the number of secondary STEM teachers at a time when nearly a third of Maine teachers are 55 or older and nearing retirement. It is open to current SJC students and transfer students from SMCC.

The grant’s three primary investigators are Daniel Moore, SMCC Professor of Biological Sciences; Patricia Waters, SJC Assistant Professor of Education; and Emily Lesher, SJC Associate Professor of Science.

To accompany the GFSTM program, SMCC and St. Joseph’s College created three new transfer agreements for students with an interest in both science and in teaching.

The agreements allow SMCC students who earn an Associate in Science degree in Liberal Studies with a focus in Science to transfer seamlessly into STEM and Secondary Education academic programs at St. Joseph’s.

Beyond the transfer agreements, the program also funds opportunities for any SMCC student with a passion in science and math to learn more about teaching STEM subjects. Those opportunities include workshops to explore careers in STEM fields and week-long teaching experience short courses during which students will learn how to teach STEM content in secondary schools.

“This partnership provides new opportunities for our students who have a passion for math and science,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “Besides helping our students, the program will benefit Maine’s educational system by allowing us to do our part in delivering a new generation of STEM teachers where they are most needed. This builds upon our mission of transforming lives and communities through education and training.”