In an effort to increase the number of science teachers in the Mobile County Public School System, the University of South Alabama’s College of Education is awarding major graduate scholarships to students with bachelor’s degrees in science-related fields through its new Pathway to Science program.
The new program was launched last spring, and the College of Education announced its first seven Pathway to Science Scholars at a Feb. 16 scholarship signing ceremony.
Each of the new scholars will receive a graduate scholarship award of approximately $27,000 in tuition and fees, stipends and professional development support. A total of 24 Pathway to Science Scholars will be named over the next four years.
“As one of the leading institutions of higher education on the Gulf Coast, we are proud to welcome these seven outstanding students as the first Pathway to Science Scholars at USA,” said College of Education Dean Dr. Richard L. Hayes.
Each of the scholars will complete secondary science certification in an intensive four-semester program that culminates with a master’s degree.
The new scholarship program seeks highly qualified candidates to teach chemistry, physics, biology or general science.
Funded by an $899,962 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, USA’s Pathway to Science program is a collaborative effort between USA’s colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences; the Alabama Department of Education’s Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative; and the Mobile County Public School System.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. Andrzej Wierzbicki said this is an excellent opportunity for science, technology, engineering and math majors who want to make a difference through teaching.
“I am pleased that we have entered into this wonderful collaboration with the College of Education to prepare students to become science teachers,” Wierzbicki said. “These students have a bright future ahead of them.”
Principal investigator for the NSF grant is Dr. Andre Green, assistant professor in the department of leadership and teacher education in the College of Education. Co-principal investigators are Dr. Phillip Feldman, associate dean of the College of Education, and Dr. Justin Sanders, associate professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We are experiencing a shortage in science teachers locally and nationally in some areas,” Green said. “The Pathway to Science program will increase the number of certified science teachers in the Mobile County Public School System.”
Pathway to Science scholarship applicants must first complete a graduate-level pre-residency program through the College of Education and intern in local schools for 10 weeks. Following the pre-residency experience, applicants are reviewed by a committee that selects the new Pathway to Science Scholars.
All seven of the Pathway to Science Scholars received their bachelor of science degrees in biology from USA’s College of Arts and Sciences. This year’s scholars are Alicia Butts, Candice Goff, Peter Kupfer, Tami May, and Ashley Velazquez, all of Mobile; Jeanell Calhoun of Pensacola, Fla.; and Elexisca Morriessette of Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands.
Nearly 1,900 students are enrolled in USA’s College of Education. The college has awarded more than 17,500 degrees throughout its history, with 85 percent of the teachers and administrators employed by public schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties receiving at least one degree or certificate from the University.