UA South Receives $1.4M Grant for STEM Teacher Training
With National Science Foundation funding, students will be uniquely trained to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics along the U.S.-Mexico border.

University Relations - Communications
April 8, 2016


Graduates of the Noyce Border Scholars Program will receive a master's in education and will serve in one of 13 high-need school districts in Cochise, Santa Cruz or Pima counties.
Graduates of the Noyce Border Scholars Program will receive a master's in education and will serve in one of 13 high-need school districts in Cochise, Santa Cruz or Pima counties.

Recent college graduates and professionals interested in a career change will be recruited and trained at the University of Arizona South for work in high-demand schools along the U.S.-Mexico border through a nearly $1.45 million National Science Foundation grant-funded program.

Etta Kralovec is principal investigator on the grant, launching the NSF's STEM-focused Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at UA South. The federal program has been implemented elsewhere on the UA's main campus and provides scholarships, stipends and programmatic support to prepare science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors, and professionals, to teach in K-12 schools.

"UA South strives to offer a high-quality, low-cost and geographically accessible education, and meet the workforce needs of our resource-challenged border region," said UA South Dean James Shockey, who added that the grant aligns with the institution's mission to partner with local community colleges and other community-based educational institutions.

"NSF has afforded us a valuable opportunity to expand our reach and serve the community as well," Shockey said.

The Noyce Border Scholars Program, designed specifically for UA South, is offered in partnership involving Biosphere 2 and Cochise College, with funding extending through 2021. Over that period, a group of 54 students will be served, with the first enrolling during the summer.

"The entire state is in need of teachers, but high-need rural and border areas suffer even more. These financial incentives and enriching professional development experiences will enable us to recruit and educate more teachers," said Kralovec, a UA South associate professor of teacher education and director of the Master of Education in Secondary Education program.

Co-principal investigators Kevin Bonine, director of education and outreach at the UA College of Science's Biosphere 2, and Eric Brooks, an education instructor at Cochise College, also will contribute expertise and resources for the Noyce Border Scholars Program. The new NSF-funded initiative will build on partnerships previously established through a UA South Transition to Teaching grant among neighboring school districts throughout southern Arizona.

Students will be recruited into the Master of Education in Secondary Education program. Among those who are accepted, recent college graduates will receive $15,100 toward the completion of their degrees, and midcareer changers who enter the program each will receive $10,500.

To complement academic instruction, Biosphere 2 will provide students with hands-on science training to be engaging and effective STEM teachers with an immersive professional development opportunity during the summer.

"Biosphere 2, with dual missions of cutting-edge research and science education, serves as a unique teacher-training destination," Bonine said. "Students in the UA South program will engage in scientific research and complementary curriculum development at the iconic UA facility. These teachers-to-be will do science at Biosphere 2 and therefore be better prepared to teach others how science works.

"We are very excited to be able to contribute to this important program that positively impacts the future of southern Arizona."

Cochise College faculty members in mathematics will host sessions to discuss challenges and best practices to teaching. Also, students will be supported in their Arizona Department of Education Provisional Teaching Certificate placement.

"We have developed a powerful teacher preparation program that is specifically designed to prepare teachers for border schools, leverages other regional expertise in STEM education, and has a heavy focus on cultural competencies and equity schooling," Kralovec said.

Graduates, who will work in one of 13 border region high schools and middle schools, are required to complete at least two years of teaching in a high-need school district for each year of financial support provided. The program also will provide two years of participation in a professional learning community supporting new teacher learning.

"This support increases teacher retention in border schools," Kralovec said. "The need for highly trained STEM teachers in border schools is crucial to closing the achievement gap in this state. We are hoping to fill these positions with home-grown teachers who grew up in these border towns and midcareer changers who have a commitment to serving these communities.

"We are grateful to the NSF for their support of the students who want to serve their communities by teaching in these high-need schools."

Extra info

The application for the National Science Foundation STEM-focused Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at UA South is open. Individuals interested in applying to the program can contact Javier Lopez at The application deadline is April 30.


Resources for the media

Ali Van Gorp

UA South

520-458-8278, Ext. 2119