Valdosta Daily Times

February 5, 2013

VSU Initiative Focuses On Graduating More Science Teachers

From Valdosta State University

VALDOSTA — Through a partnership with the Valdosta City School System and an award of nearly $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation, Valdosta State University hopes to more than double the number of science teachers it graduates each year. Before spring semester ends, 10 academically talented, financially needy sophomore biology, chemistry, geosciences, physics, and astronomy students will be recruited for participation in the first cohort of the Valdosta Noyce Scholars Science Teacher Preparation and Retention project. 

Dr. Brian L. Gerber, professor and acting dean of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education, said, “The first cohort of 10 students will be recruited this semester. We will look for sophomore science majors that may not know that science teaching in middle or high school could be an option for them. We can even provide some experiences in the local middle schools and high school to help them make that decision. Arrangements can be made for them to sit in on classes in the schools, speak with teachers and administrators, etc. We want them to make an informed decision as they are selecting a career path that will impact the rest of their lives.”

A second cohort of 10 sophomore science majors will be selected during the 2013-2014 academic year, said Gerber, who serves as principal investigator and project director along with Dr. Thomas J. Manning, chemistry professor. The project will primarily target black and Hispanic students from rural South Georgia based on demonstrated academic potential, potential for future professional success, and financial need.

A five-year initiative, Valdosta Noyce Scholars Science Teacher Preparation and Retention project participants will obtain both a bachelor’s degree in a science major and teaching certification through a fifth-year post-baccalaureate program. They will participate in field experiences in middle and high schools in the Valdosta City School System. At the end of their sophomore year, the students will enter the paid summer internship phase of the project. At the start of their junior year, they will receive a scholarship of up to $12,000 per year to cover the costs of their college attendance, including tuition, fees, books and supplies, housing, etc., for three years. Gerber said the amount will vary per student based on what other forms of financial aid he or she is already receiving.