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UC Scholarships Launch New Era of Preparing Highly Qualified Teachers in Math and Science

UC’s newly awarded STEMM Fellows are part of the State of Ohio’s plan to build and strengthen the state’s workforce in high-demand STEMM fields.

Date: 9/8/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Ashley Kempher, Dottie Stover, Lisa Britton

UC ingot   “When I told some people about how I wanted to change my major from pre-pharmacy to education, they  just couldn’t believe why I would want to work so hard wiping noses, giving out homework and getting paid so little, when I could have been a pharmacist making a large sum of money. This job will be challenging, and it will most likely push me until I think I have reached my limits. But, I will keep going, because seeing a child achieve is worth more than a huge paycheck.” – Choose Ohio First Scholarship recipient Lyndsey Miller, a UC middle childhood education major

Beginning this fall, 29 University of Cincinnati students dedicating their careers to teaching our youngest learners as well as challenged learners will begin a new journey to excellence in providing STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math, medicine) education, as they become the first group of students to be awarded Choose Ohio First Scholarships supporting a UC-designed program for pre-service teachers.

Funded by the State of Ohio, the Choose Ohio First Scholarship program is billed as the state’s model for attracting, retaining and graduating students into the high-demand STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math, medicine) disciplines and strengthening the state’s workforce.

This particular UC program, awarded $822,000 to be distributed over six years, recruits UC’s STEMM Fellows through the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH)– pre-service teachers in special education, middle childhood education and early childhood education – to build teaching expertise that will fuel interest in STEMM subjects.

Scott Duncan and his four-year-old son, Dominick
Scott Duncan and his four-year-old son, Dominick

“When I speak with varying individuals and explain that I intend on becoming a math teacher, many say that math was/is their least favorite subject. I plan to be able to make math as fun as academically possible for my future students,” says William “Scott” Duncan, a UC middle childhood education major and STEMM Fellow from Columbus, Ohio.

The first year of the scholarship program gets underway this fall with $135,000 awarded to the first cohort of STEMM Fellows – 13 early childhood education majors, 12 middle childhood education majors and four special education majors that are entering their junior year and specialty areas at UC. Half of the early childhood education students awarded scholarships are students attending Clermont College.

In addition to recruiting a second cohort of pre-service students, the second year of the program will also recruit students earning their master's degree in education.

The Choose Ohio First Scholarship STEMM Fellows will receive $4,500 for each of their junior and senior years for a total of $9,000 in scholarship funding. The scholarship support amounts to $1,500 per academic quarter.

The program also aims to diversify the teaching profession by recruiting students of color, first-generation college students and other underrepresented students. Duncan, who’s 25, married and a working father of two – including a newborn – is one of the STEMM Fellows transitioning to the Uptown Campus from Clermont College. He says he left a steady warehouse job in Columbus to pursue this pathway in education. His wife is pursuing her own education in nursing at Christ Hospital. “I was making pretty good money at my last full-time job and I know I’m going to be making less money starting out in teaching,” Duncan says, “but I am so happy to be continuing my education. It has been a very positive experience.”

Lyndsey Miller
Lyndsey Miller

To be considered for the scholarships, the students submitted an application, letters of recommendation and an essay on why they wanted to become STEMM educators. The recipients were selected from a committee representing CECH in early childhood, middle childhood and special education, the CECH Dean’s Office, as well as the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences (A&S), and a national board certified teacher who represented Cincinnati Public Schools.

“The main reason why I truly want to be a teacher is to give my students the teacher that I never had in school,” STEMM Fellow Lyndsey Miller, a 20-year-old UC middle childhood education major from Batavia, wrote in her essay. “I want to be the teacher that is approachable to every student, who encourages students to set high expectations and who stays late or comes in early to help those struggling with a topic. This is way more than just a job to me. This will be my passion for nine months out of the year.”

Michelle Prinzo, a University Honors student from Akron who is a double major in early childhood education and communication, says she wanted to be a part of the Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program because, although she has been a good student in math and science, those subjects were always more difficult for her. Since she will be teaching all subjects as an early childhood education teacher, she says she wanted to become more rounded herself, so that she could help fuel an enthusiasm and passion for learning in the STEMM areas.

Michelle Prinzo
Michelle Prinzo

As a Choose Ohio First scholarship recipient, nine STEMM-focused credit hours are now built into Prinzo’s program, beginning with a STEMM math class this fall that was developed by math faculty in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences and education faculty from the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH). She will also take a non-credit STEMM-related seminar during fall quarter and, as part of her Choose Ohio First Scholarship experience, she will have a capstone experience her senior year.

“This program establishes a new era in early childhood and special education – preparing these future teachers to be highly qualified in math and science – teachers that are generalists by licensure requirement, but are striving for a stronger background in math and science so that they are capable and confident in the classroom,” says Sally Moomaw, the program coordinator for the STEMM Fellows and UC assistant professor of teacher education.

“Special education preparation for pre-service teachers, where there has been less emphasis nationally on math and science content, is now undergoing a change in national requirements so that teachers need to be highly qualified in two subject areas, so this program emphasizes math and science content for those future teachers,” Moomaw says.

The Choose Ohio First STEMM Fellows have the following STEMM emphasis in their programs

  • Early Childhood Education – Nine credit-hours emphasizing STEMM are built into the program, beginning with a math class this fall that was developed and will be co-taught by CECH and A&S faculty. Students will also take a non-credit seminar this fall and finish their senior year with a capstone experience.
  • Middle Childhood Education – Students will take a non-credit seminar this fall and take a course during winter quarter focused on integrating STEMM themes into their teaching. They will also finish their senior year with a capstone experience.
  • Special Education – Students will take two STEMM-related courses developed and co-taught by CECH and A&S faculty, as well as a non-credit seminar and a capstone experience their senior year.

This Choose Ohio First initiative at UC is part of a larger university initiative to create seamless pathways from kindergarten to college to graduate school and then to successful STEMM careers.

In addition, the new redesign of Taft Elementary into a STEMM-themed school and the establishment of the STEMM high school at Hughes Center will make both of those CPS schools the sites for the placement of teacher interns in the program. The regional Strive partnership and Greater Cincinnati Tech Prep Consortium are also active partners in the program to provide linkages to STEMM-related businesses and other support for cooperative education and placements.

Moomaw adds that this Choose Ohio First program is also innovative in how it was developed in partnership with other faculty with STEMM expertise, such as the math courses for early childhood education that were designed by both CECH faculty and faculty representing the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences (A&S). Coursework for students in middle childhood education are being developed in partnership with the UC College of Engineering and A&S.

“We’re hoping that as students broaden their content knowledge, that they’ll be able to reflect on their own experiences as learners as they develop teaching concepts to reach every student in the classroom,” Moomaw says.
UC Hosts Sept. 29 Reception for Choose Ohio First Scholarship Recipients

A reception to recognize the STEMM Fellows and all of UC’s Choose Ohio First Scholarship recipients will be held from 3-5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, in the Great Hall of Tangeman University Center.  The reception will include a 4 p.m. address from Anthony J. Perzigian, UC senior vice president and provost.

Other UC Choose Ohio First Scholarship Programs Beginning This Fall

Coming Out of the Pipeline: The UC Interdisciplinary Pathway to STEMM Professionals
UC, in partnership with more than 500 businesses around Ohio including P&G, General Electric, Duke Energy and Ethicon, is creating interdisciplinary, experiential learning opportunities for graduates and undergraduates awarded scholarships through this program. Ohio businesses will serve as partners for students with interests in medical device innovation, global product design and the neurosciences. The program recruits graduate and undergraduate students and was awarded $3,082,500 in Choose Ohio First funding. The scholarships, renewable annually, amount to $4,500 per academic year. Undergraduates are awarded $1,500 per academic quarter around their cooperative education experiences, when they are alternating classroom study with paid work experiences. The program awards juniors, seniors and graduate students. The program has awarded 41 graduate students and six undergraduate students.

Diversifying Yield and Retention in Engineering, Mathematics and Science
This program, awarded $4,268,964 in Choose Ohio First funding, aims to increase by 20 percent the number of freshmen entering math and science disciplines in A&S, with targeted increases in the percentages of women and underrepresented minorities in both engineering and A&S STEMM disciplines. The scholarships serve underrepresented freshmen including minorities, first-generation college students and women. The scholarship is for qualifying freshmen entering the College of Engineering and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences and can also serve students transitioning to the Uptown Campus from Raymond Walters College, Clermont College, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Sinclair Community College. Students will gain strength in the STEMM fields through UC’s cooperative education experience, summer bridge program and structured support for freshmen and sophomores as well as mentoring and undergraduate research opportunities. The scholarships, renewable annually, amount to $4,100 per academic year. The program has awarded scholarships to 91 students.

UC Colleges represented by Choose Ohio First Scholarships: CECH; College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP); College of Engineering; and McMicken College of Arts & Sciences (A&S)

Choose Ohio First Scholarship Information

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