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Roosevelt receives $1.4 million to train teachers in math and science

CPS, The Field Museum and Oakton are partners in new project
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Roosevelt University has received a significant National Science Foundation grant that will pave the way for scholarships starting in the fall for students interested in teaching math and science in high-need schools.

The $1.4 million grant, including $800,000 in scholarships, will make it possible for Roosevelt, in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, Oakton Community College and The Field Museum, to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for classrooms in schools where teacher turnover is high.

“There is a great need locally and nationally for high-quality math and science teachers who are committed to working with students who frequently come from low-income and minority households,” said Tom Philion, dean of the College of Education at Roosevelt University.

“With this initiative, we will be collaborating with Roosevelt’s College of Arts and Sciences and a number of venerable Chicago-area institutions to better prepare teachers, and by proxy their students, for college and careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) sector,” he said.

The Noyce Teacher Scholarship program will provide $10,000 annually for up to two years for juniors and seniors who major in math, chemistry or biology and minor in secondary education; and $18,000 over two years to graduate students enrolled in Roosevelt’s Master of Arts in Secondary Education program. The project will be led by Dr. Byoung Kim, associate professor of education at Roosevelt University.

In exchange for scholarships, students agree when they graduate from Roosevelt to teach for up to four years in public schools where math and science teachers are in demand.

“We have a number of schools where turnover of math and science teachers is common,” said Christine Murphy Judson, manager of talent acquisition for CPS, which she estimates annually fills approximately 100 math and science teaching vacancies. 

“It’s a challenge to prepare our students for college and technology sector jobs without them having a strong foundation in math and science.  The Roosevelt program will help address teacher shortages, and will give students the foundation they need to get ahead in STEM,” she said.

Over the summer, CPS will identify schools where Roosevelt‘s Robert Noyce Scholarship students will do field observations and student teaching. Upon graduation, these scholars also will be eligible for job opportunities at CPS, or if they choose, other high-need schools throughout the region.

“This is an enormous opportunity for all of us to work together for the betterment of math and science education for the entire Chicago metropolitan region,” said Heidi Rouleau, school learning experiences manager for The Field Museum, which will host courses, internships and other learning experiences for scholarship recipients and those who are interested in applying to the program.

“It’s not just about how to take good field trips. Roosevelt students will learn how to apply strategies that we use at The Field Museum to spark interest and curiosity in the sciences when they get into the classroom to teach,” she said.

The Roosevelt program will prepare 42 secondary math and science teachers over the next five years. Some of the program’s candidates will come from Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, where the most popular field of study for students intending to go on to a four-year institution is STEM. Other candidates will be career changers with strong backgrounds in STEM content areas and professions.

“There is a lot of competition among four-year colleges that are seeking to attract STEM majors,” said Katherine Schuster, distinguished professor of education and coordinator of the K-12 education program at Oakton.

“We expect the scholarships to encourage some of our best and brightest to consider a career in teaching and complete their education at Roosevelt,” she said.

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