National Science Foundation awards CSUCI grant to cultivate math teachers

CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) graduate and undergraduate students who would like to teach high school math will soon be able to apply for $10,000 scholarships, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF recently awarded CSUCI with $1,176,577 for a joint project entitled “California Coast Noyce Mathematics Partnership.”

The program is intended to increase the number of high school teachers with strong science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) content knowledge to teach in high-need school districts.

CSUCI’s Professor of Mathematics Ivona Grzegorczyk, Ph.D. applied for the grant in collaboration with CSU Monterey Bay (CSUMB), which also serves high-need school districts in the area.

“What is happening right now in the United States is a shortage of mathematics teachers,” Grzegorczyk said. “It’s the most acute need that we have. We’re importing teachers now, mainly from India because they speak English already, but from other countries as well.”

Each Noyce scholar may receive $10,000 annually for up to two years to fund their education. In return, scholars agree to teach for two years in a “high needs” school district, one year for each year of funding.

Seven CSUCI students were chosen to receive Noyce scholarships this year: juniors Natalie Huerta; Jerome Manion; Kyle McHugh; Jessica Silva and Dale Perizzolo will receive two years of funding for a total of $20,000 each.

The other two, seniors Michael Ruiz and Ana Rodriguez, will receive a year of funding as they pursue their teaching credential for a total of $10,000 each.

Grzegorczyk said the idea is to attract those who want to teach and do research in mathematics, and she wants to see graduates highly qualified to do both. The collaboration with CSUMB allows scholars from both institutions to share research and build networks.

California Coast Noyce scholars are chosen based on a number of criteria including a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units of coursework and a 2.75 GPA overall in the most recent 30 units of college classes. Applicants must be majoring in one of the sciences.

Chair of Liberal Studies and Professor of Education Robert Bleicher, Ph.D., is assisting Grzegorczyk with selecting applicants and other aspects of the grant. Both Bleicher and Grzegorczyk said diversity is always welcome, especially when it comes to Spanish speakers and women.

“Women actually are doing as well as men in high school mathematics,” Grzegorczyk said. “It’s college when they fall behind. This may be some sort of social pressure. Even if they finish with a mathematics degree, they do not go on to graduate schools.”

"Our graduates did as well or better than average on the teachers' tests," said Grzegorczyk.

Recipients must be U.S. Citizens or have U.S. National or Permanent Resident Alien status. Scholars must also have a commitment to teach mathematics.

This is the second time CSUCI has received the grant, the first being for 2009-2014. CSU Humboldt was a partner with CSUCI and CSUMB for the earlier grant, but the grant seemed to have the most impact at Channel Islands and Monterey Bay.

The Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship program is designed for higher education institutions across the country that have a successful record in preparing math and science teachers.

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) is the only public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CSUCI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CSUCI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more by visiting CSUCI’s Social Media.