Campus: CSU Long Beach -- January 14, 2004

NSF Awards $460,000 to Cal State Long Beach for Project Focusing on Math, Science Teachers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $460,000 to California State University, Long Beach for a project that will provide better prepared mathematics and science teachers to high-need middle schools and high schools in the Long Beach Unified School District, Whittier Union High School District and Whittier Union Elementary District.

The funds were awarded through the NSF’s Robert Noyce Scholarship program, a national program aimed at helping to stem the loss of mathematics and science teachers in the country’s neediest schools.

In all, the NSF awarded $6.9 million in scholarship/stipend money to 15 universities and colleges across the country, and those funds are expected to help educate more than 650 new K-12 teachers and help them transition to the teaching profession.

“We’re in very prestigious company,” said Elizabeth Ambos, associate vice president for research and external support and principal investigator for the Robert Noyce Scholarship program at Cal State Long Beach. “We were one of just 15 grant recipients out of 64 applicants, and I believe it is testimony to the quality of the programs we have here at the university that we were able to be competitive.”

Named for the co-founder of Intel Corp and the scientist awarded the 1961 patent for the integrated semiconductor, the Noyce Scholarship program is providing funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends and programs for students who commit to teaching mathematics and science in high-need K-12 schools. In return, recipients must agree to teach in a high-need school district for two years for each year of scholarship or stipend support.

At Cal State Long Beach, $10,000 stipends will be awarded each year to 10 students, juniors and seniors only, who are seeking credentials to teach mathematics and science at the middle school or high school level. During the four-year grant period, the CSULB program, will have assisted somewhere between 20 to 30 students (some students will have an option to go a second year in the program).

“Mathematics and science are two areas where the supply of qualified teachers is less than the demand,” noted Ambos, who was formerly an associate dean for CSULB’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “There are a lot of teachers who are teaching math and science, but they don’t have a math or science background. The Noyce Scholarship program is trying to meet a need for better prepared math and science teachers on a national level by offering stipends to individuals who will complete a credential in math and science.”

The Long Beach Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Department of Education, in particular the Whittier school districts, are partners in the CSULB program. Each entity has indicated that they have specific needs in the area of qualified math and science teachers.

“Another aspect of the partnerships that is extremely exciting is that we will preferentially work with our good community college partners who have excellent teacher preparation academies, including Cerritos College and Long Beach City College” Ambos pointed out. “We have put in the proposal that we will give preference to those who transfer from those schools and programs.”

Ambos credited a trio of colleagues in the College of Natural Science and Mathematics and College of Education at CSULB for their leadership on the proposal to obtain the NSF funding, including Laura Henriques (science credential advisor), Angelo Segalla (mathematics credential advisor) and Steve Turley (director of the credentialing office).

She also noted that the CSULB Robert Noyce Scholarship program will be managed out of the Student Access to Science and Mathematics Center, under the guidance of associate director Maria Besnard.

“This is really one of those solid bread-and-butter projects that will make a tremendous difference,” Ambos said. “First, students will be getting a jumpstart on their careers and won’t have to worry about going into so much debt. Then, there is the multiplier effect with the students they are going to teach. Each of the students selected for the program is going to teach thousands of students in their professional careers.”

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