SOURCE: Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College

January 31, 2012 16:01 ET

NSF Noyce Scholarship Program Award Makes Funding Available for Re-Careering STEM Professionals to Train as Science and Math Teachers at Rio Salado College

TEMPE, AZ--(Marketwire - Jan 31, 2012) - The Teacher Preparation Program of Rio Salado College recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Noyce Scholarship Program award of nearly $1.2 million to support the recruitment and training of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals who are interested in becoming a science or math teacher in 7-12 grade classrooms throughout Arizona.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, demand for qualified teachers is expected to increase nearly 12 percent over the next five to six years with an even higher need for math and science teachers in urban and rural districts.

"The need for inspiring teachers in STEM-related subjects is critical for the future of Arizona's economy and experienced professionals in these fields have much to offer," said Dr. Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado College president. "Rio is honored to be one of the few community colleges in the nation to receive a Noyce grant and be a part of this important initiative."

The Noyce Scholarship award will fund tuition, textbooks, fees and technical support for four cohorts of 10 participants each over the next four years. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, Arizona resident, have a minimum of three years' experience in a STEM-related field, a bachelor's degree in a STEM discipline, and commit to teach for two years in a high-need school. Applications are being taken now through June 1 for classes beginning July 7.

Successful Noyce scholar participants will complete a comprehensive 15-month teacher certification program with online course instruction and on-site teaching experiences in conveniently located school districts. The online accessibility of the program enables students to work until the start of the student teaching semester and will provide expanded opportunity for residents in rural communities with limited educational resources. Rio will also provide mentoring and professional support to all students as they fulfill the required two-year teaching commitment.

"This combination of online and in-person instruction and support will provide STEM professionals flexibility in completing the course training and allow the program to recruit Noyce Scholars statewide," said Janet Johnson, Rio's education chair.

Support from businesses such as Intel, the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, and health care providers in Arizona is essential in getting the word out to displaced, trade affected or retiring workers in STEM-related fields.

"The Noyce Scholarship Program is such a boon to both education and industry -- particularly in rural Arizona," said Susan Carlson, executive director of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition. "These scholarships provide a pathway for STEM-talented individuals to move from the private sector into the classroom: benefitting them as individuals, benefitting students who will learn from experienced STEM professionals, and benefitting STEM industries which are looking for well-educated grads."

For more information, visit http://www.riosalado.edu/programs/education/insideedu/Documents/7728_FL_SMILENoyceSep113.pdf or contact Karen Nave, Noyce Grant Scholarship Manager, at 480.517.8743 or Karen.Nave@riosalado.edu.

Rio's highly regarded Teacher Preparation Program was recently joined by The New York Times Knowledge Network. The online program is designed for busy adults who already have a bachelor's degree and want to become a teacher. Through the NYT Epsilen™ platform, Noyce scholars will be afforded expanded resources such as The Times' content repository and networking with other students from across the nation while enrolled in the hybrid-distance learning program.

Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest online public community college in the nation, serving nearly 70,000 students annually with more than 41,000 online. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students, and is the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona.

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