Future Math Teachers to Benefit from $1.2 Million Grant

Concordia receives a grant to benefit mathematics education students who pledge to teach in high-need districts.

Mathematics professor Dr. Mark Causapin knows what good preparation and mentorship can do for teachers. Research backs up his theory that it’s a path for success. That’s why Causapin wrote a grant application hoping to help Concordia students enhance these skills. Concordia was awarded a $1.2 million National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship grant to implement the Mathematics Teacher-Leaders Honors Program.

“There is a real shortage of mathematics teachers in Minnesota and North Dakota, especially in rural schools,” Causapin says.

The program goals are to address the critical shortage of mathematics teachers in rural school districts in Minnesota and North Dakota, and to produce teachers who will be leaders in both their schools and in the field of mathematics education.

Concordia will produce 16 highly-qualified mathematics teacher-leaders within five years, with majors in both mathematics and education. The students will receive the scholarships during their junior and senior years. Scholars will receive up to $21,000 per year to cover the cost of attendance at Concordia. Causapin, who will lead the program, says the mentoring component of the program is key. Scholars will have a paid part-time internship through the grant in the Moorhead Public Schools to assist them with seeing how various instructors teach math and to have interactions with multiple students and mathematics teachers. The mentorship component will continue in their first years of teaching.

“In smaller schools, there aren’t as many mentors for beginning teachers,” Causapin says. “This program provides one-to-one mentoring to the new graduates during their first two years of teaching. We need to send out highly skilled and highly prepared teachers. Some of the added benefits of this scholarship will better prepare these new teachers.”

A stipulation of the scholarship is that recipients will agree to teach in a “high-need” school district for four years within eight years of graduation. High-need means a local school district that serves elementary or secondary schools located in an area characterized by the following: a high percentage of individuals from families living below the poverty line, a high percentage of teachers not teaching in the area for which they were trained, or a high teacher turnover rate.

The students will also have the opportunity to spend a week with a superintendent to understand how a school functions, and learn about the complexities of school administration. Additionally, scholars will attend seminars and conferences with both the conference and travel expenses paid, conduct research, and implement a Math Day event at Concordia.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities, is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950. Robert Noyce (1927-1990) invented the integrated circuit or microchip, which set off the computing revolution. He also co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. To learn more about this scholarship, read the NSF award abstract in full. 

Concordia is one of three Minnesota colleges to receive a grant during this grant awarding period.