NSF Awards WBU $1.3M Grant

Wayland Baptist University has been awarded a $1.36 million Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant from the National Science Foundation to assist with financial aid and scholarships for exceptionally qualified students who are studying to become high school math and science teachers. The project, submitted by Wayland Baptist University, includes partnerships with Plainview High School and South Plains College to discover qualified candidates beginning with the Fall 2022 semester.

Through this grant, well-qualified students attending the main Wayland campus in Plainview are eligible for as much as $16,000 a year each in financial aid toward their degree.

The project aims to serve the national need of providing high-quality instruction to math and science students in rural high schools in the South Plains region of Texas. Prospective teachers will receive scholarship support during their final two years of college, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) transfers from South Plains College. The project will develop a professional-learning community that will work together to support STEM educators in both high schools and colleges.

“This grant will have a huge impact on STEM education on the South Plains. We are constantly facing a shortage of STEM teachers in the area,” said Dr. Adam Reinhart, Dean of the Kenneth L. Mattox School of Mathematics and Sciences at Wayland. “The grant will produce more than STEM teachers; it will produce uniquely qualified ‘scientist-educators’ through undergraduate scientific research and other programming such as mentoring, both as undergraduates and their first few years in the classroom.”

Prospective teachers will participate in mentoring engagements with practicing secondary STEM teachers who are working in rural districts and will attend workshops to prepare them to teach in rural districts. Their education will be enhanced through participation in undergraduate research experiences.
Graduates of the program will receive ongoing mentoring from Wayland faculty during their first few years as practicing teachers and will have access to small grants to develop engaging classroom experiences for students in grades 7-12.

The university expects to develop more effective processes and practices for recruiting and selecting 25 Noyce scholars from diverse backgrounds over the five-year funded period. Project goals also include graduating 25 WBU Noyce scholars and retaining them as STEM educators in high-need districts using a variety of interventions, including additional mentoring from undergraduate STEM faculty during the clinical teaching experience and induction years.

According to Dr. Reinhart, the project will examine the impact of the newly formed professional learning community on the local STEM education ecosystem and on undergraduate research experiences on STEM Education majors at Wayland.

Wayland Baptist University is actively seeking college students with junior- or senior-level status to be in the first class this August. For information about student applications, please contact Dr. Adam Reinhart at reinhart@wbu.edu.