Clark University has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling $1.1 million to support an extensive new project to further teaching excellence in science and math.
The Clark Science-Math Teaching and Education Partnership (C-STEP) project, led by Clark University in partnership with the Worcester Public Schools, integrates the expertise of the University’s mathematics and science faculty and urban-teacher educators, and teachers.
“This federal grant goes a long way to supporting the innovative collaborative work being done by Clark University and the Adam Institute for Urban Teaching and School Practice in conjunction with the Worcester Public Schools,” said Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), during a Dec. 19 press conference announcing the project and grant. “I am a strong believer that our students today need the best education possible in the sciences. This program will ensure that passionate STEM teachers-in-training get the support they need.” The C-STEP project, which is a Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship effort, will provide 20 Clark University students with scholarships or stipends to set them on the path to becoming exemplary middle and high school teachers. Teacher candidates will be drawn from Clark graduate students who enter the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program having already earned a baccalaureate degree or served as a professional in a mathematics, scientific or engineering field, as well as undergraduates majoring in biology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics who enter Clark’s five-year Bachelor of Arts/MAT program.
The C-STEP uniquely leverages a neighborhood-based community of practice — comprising university faculty and math and science educators from Worcester’s Main South — to ensure personalized mentoring and group support for the process of recruiting, preparing, and retaining highly capable teachers in high-need schools. “The C-STEP effort capitalizes on Clark’s long record of community partnership and our interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to liberal education and effective practice, fostering the development and assessment of powerful curriculum and teaching practice,” said Clark President David Angel. “Five academic departments are engaged in the program, which links undergraduate and graduate education while crossing traditional school, university, and neighborhood boundaries.”
“To have a focused initiative of this kind can have a transformative impact on our schools,” Angel continued. “This program is fundamentally about two things that matter: teachers and schools. This is where change happens in a school system.”
Thomas Del Prete, director of the Adam Institute for Urban Teaching and School Practice, at Clark University, is Principal Investigator of the NSF award. Clark’s Hiatt Center for Urban Education, directed by Katerine Bielaczyc, will coordinate the evaluation of the C-STEP program. Del Prete outlines the interwoven partnership strands of the C-STEP program:
- a strong intra-institutional partnership between Clark’s departments of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics and the University’s Adam Institute for Urban Teaching and School Practice and Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education;
- a close partnership with a high-need school district (Worcester Public Schools), including collaboration with a neighborhood-based set of partner schools;
- teams of partner school mathematics and science teachers working together to develop strong practice and serving as a pool of mentors as well as an induction community;
- an intensive one-year MAT program with a corresponding yearlong teaching internship;
- a five-year BA/MAT teacher preparation pathway;
- and a neighborhood-based college success academic program for low-income, prospective first generation college-goers.
Co-Principal Investigators of the C-STEP program are Professor Natalia Sternberg, chair of the Math/Computer Science Department; Professor Arshad Kudrolli, chair of the Physics Department; Associate Professor Deborah Robertson, of Biology; and Associate Professor Luis Smith, of Chemistry.
Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda Boone praised the C-STEP initiative, as well as Clark’s longstanding role in supporting quality public education. “Clark has been at the forefront of this work, and they were there even before our major reform efforts were initiated in terms of developing our teachers who are in our schools and doing great things,” she said. “This grant will help close the opportunity gap for many of our students.”
The C-STEP program furthers the mission of the Adam Institute for Urban Teaching and School Practice at Clark University, which is supported by the Ruth and John Adam Education Fund. The fund was created from a gift of more than $14.2 million from the late Clark trustee and highly respected business leader and philanthropist John “Jack” Adam, made to enhance Clark’s nationally recognized model for urban secondary education and reform, teacher-training and community education partnerships.
In closing the press conference, President Angel said: “Our motto is ‘Challenge convention. Change our world.’ There is no better place than public education to live that aspiration, and no better time than now to engage in that work. We know that this neighborhood, this city, this community is on the rise and we want to be a part of accelerating that progress. There is no better reward in what we do than to make a diff in the lives of children.”
Click here to learn more about the Adam gift.