Fort Lewis College and San Juan College in Farmington were awarded more than $1 million from the National Science Foundation to create a program to boost the number of science, technology, engineering and math teachers in the Four Corners.
The two colleges will unite to offer the Four Corners Noyce Scholars program, FCNS, which aims to increase the number of STEM graduates from both schools who also earn teaching certifications.
The Colorado Department of Higher Education’s 2017 report, Colorado’s Teacher Shortages: Attracting and Retaining Excellent Educators, said, “the state has teacher shortages in early childhood education and care, science, math, world languages, special education and art/music/drama. We lack minority educators throughout the state. The shortages are more pronounced in rural and remote rural areas, where we find unique challenges driven by inadequate teacher compensation, lack of affordable housing and difficulty attracting new teachers to rural communities.”
FLC and San Juan College are well-suited to respond to the need for more teachers in remote areas, not only in Colorado, but New Mexico, Arizona and Utah as well.
“The Four Corners Noyce Scholars program is one way that Fort Lewis College contributes to the goal of preparing teachers for rural communities,” said Anne McCarthy, associate dean of the FLC School of Arts and Sciences and one of the leaders behind the Noyce program. “FCNS aims to increase the number of well-qualified STEM teachers in the region’s schools, particularly in the many high-need, rural communities located in the Four Corners region and the nearby Navajo Nation.”
The FLC-San Juan College Noyce program will recruit students from rural communities within the Four Corners and provide scholarships to those students. After their training and graduation, students, equipped with the tools needed to teach in STEM fields, will be encouraged to return to their communities.
Students within the Noyce program can receive scholarship support to pursue their teacher certification, along with specialized training in teaching in rural, often isolated and lower income communities.
Students working through the FCNS program will be paired with teaching opportunities offered in 13 school districts and 10 community partners located across Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.