“I am absolutely confident that I belong in a classroom.”
It is with this passion that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors – as exemplified by the words of Jennifer Davis – seek to achieve their goals and become the teachers of the next generation of students.
Four Edinboro STEM students are able to accomplish this with help from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which hopes to train STEM majors to be teachers in high-need school districts. In June 2019, NSF awarded Edinboro a $1.2 million grant, thus forming the Edinboro Noyce Teacher Scholar (ENTS) program.
Those taking part in this program are Davis, Angelica Sack, Matthew Wilson and Taylor Glass. There are numerous benefits to the program, including (but not limited to) a yearlong capstone experience in a high-need school district, practice of culturally responsive strategies, behavior modification and innovative teaching strategies, urban and rural education experiences and early employment training through student employment options.
For most of the students, their paths to become teachers have been in sight since high school.
“I decided to become a STEM teacher when I was a freshman in high school,” said Sack, a Mathematics major with a teaching certificate in Secondary Education. She explained, “What motivated me was the fact that I have always loved children and enjoyed math.”
Davis, a 2017 graduate of Edinboro with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, showed a similar enjoyment in STEM. Proficient in her science classes, she gave back by helping others.
“I was a tutor throughout high school, frequently tutoring students in subjects that were a year or two ahead of classes that I was actually taking,” she said. “I truly loved the responsibility that came along with teaching my peers our material. Seeing my friends get an ‘ah-ha’ moment is very rewarding.”
Glass, a Secondary Education – Chemistry major with a B.A in Chemistry, desired to be a teacher by the time he was a junior.
“I was motivated by my chemistry teacher at Willoughby South High School, Ms. Erin Ertter, who made the subject fun and interactive,” he said.
He seeks to do the same for his future students: “Long term, I want to reduce the shiver given off by people when they hear the word ‘chemistry.’ I want to make it a fun class for the students I teach.”
This is another common theme between the students: a passion and desire to make a difference for new students like their own teachers did for them.
Wilson, who hopes to become a secondary mathematics teacher, decided on his career path as a senior. He explained that, originally, he was motivated to be a mathematician because he believed he would excel at it.
“After various experiences teaching eclectic groups of students, I have realized a calling to this occupation that goes beyond representing what I believe to be my skillset; I have a passion and love for mathematics,” he said. “I desire little more than to be able to pass on that passion to the next generation of potential mathematicians.”
The students also have clear long-term goals they hope to accomplish.
Sack aims to earn her master’s degree and doctoral degree.
For Wilson, he hopes to go on to teach mathematics at the college level.
Davis’ long-term goals are focused on classroom equity.
“I would like to find a district where I can help develop or rehabilitate a struggling science program using my expertise in a wide range of subjects,” she said. “It has become especially clear to me recently that equitable science classrooms are extremely rare, and not always as well-designed for inclusivity as they ought to be.”
She added, “I would love to design and implement new and effective strategies that make inclusivity the standard procedure in all classrooms.”
Through the ENTS program, they have the chance to make these goals and dreams a reality.
“Without the Noyce Scholarship, I would never have been able to enroll in the Teacher Leadership master's program,” said Davis.
She emphasized the importance of STEM as a career path.
“I cannot stress how very important science is,” Davis said. “Every single day, I look at the news and realize just how little the general population understands about scientific theory. It is my responsibility to ensure that the next generation of kids has a better grasp on how the world works.”
“The opportunities that I have had as a result of the Noyce Scholarship have generated several possibilities for me to learn and gain experience,” Wilson added. “I am exceedingly thankful for everything the Noyce Scholarship has gifted me.”
By the completion of their programs, the four students of the ENTS program will be ready and raring to begin their careers as STEM educators.
For more information about Edinboro’s ENTS program, visit https://www.edinboro.edu/ents.