Postponed: Event to Launch College’s Largest Ever Federal Grant

President James Dlugos is set to announce that Saint Joseph’s College of Maine has been awarded a five-year, $1,444,983 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Track 1 Robert Noyce Scholarship and Stipend Program.

Dr Emily Lesher works with a science student in the chemistry lab at Saint Joseph's College in Standish, MaineThe announcement will be made at a later date.

The Growing Future STEM Teachers in Maine (GFSTM) project will provide two-year scholarships of $25,500 per year to a total of 18 undergraduate juniors and seniors. The program will provide special supports as they pursue STEM degrees in biology, mathematics, or physical sciences-chemistry or environmental science, as well as secondary education certification. Ultimately, Noyce Scholars will work in high-need urban and rural schools across Maine. GFSTM is a collaboration between Saint Joseph’s and Southern Maine Community College, and a partnership with 7 school districts.

The 7 GFSTM partner schools include: Deering High School, Lewiston High School, and Westbrook High School as urban schools; Bonny Eagle High School, Windham High School, Lake Region High School, and Old Town High School as rural schools.

The Growing Future STEM Teachers in Maine project is designed to increase the number of secondary STEM teachers in an era when nearly a third of Maine teachers are 55 years old and nearing retirement, and to address the decades-old problem of Maine’s shortage of STEM teachers, in particular. By partnering with a community college and 7 high-need schools, the Noyce project is designed to grow students from within those sites. The project will also encourgae students from high-need school districts to return to their communities as teachers and leaders of the next generation of science and math educators.

“Saint Joseph’s College is deeply committed to educating the next generation of STEM teachers for Maine schools,” President Dlugos said. “STEM education remains the foundation and the number one priority for training Maine’s future skilled and educated workforce. By working with SMCC and schools across Maine, this project promises to draw more students into STEM-Ed degrees, provide teacher training with diverse populations, and plant seeds with current high school and middle school students to become future STEM teachers.”

Maine’s Congressional leaders expressed excitement about the program. “In order for Maine’s students to gain STEM skills, we need to make sure they have dedicated and well-trained STEM educators,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “For decades, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine has been giving teachers the tools they need to train the next generation of STEM workers. This funding will help the college expand its efforts and make an even greater impact on Maine’s students and economy.”

Representative Chellie Pingree said: “As the number of STEM jobs in Maine increase rapidly, we need our students to be well-prepared for their future careers,” said Pingree. “Increasing the number of public school STEM teachers will go a long way towards preparing our children for the jobs of tomorrow. My thanks to the National Science Foundation for recognizing how important this STEM education is for the future of Maine’s workforce and for funding this work.”

Representative Jared Golden added:  “Saint Joseph’s College does critical work to prepare young Mainers for jobs in education and other careers, positions we need to fill in our state. This grant will provide Maine students with opportunities to develop valuable skills that they’ll bring back to the classroom and help address our STEM teacher shortage. I’m proud to see the NSF prioritize schools in places like Lewiston and Old Town to provide Maine students with access to good jobs and a quality education.”

Matthew J. Lokken, Principal of Lake Region Middle School, a project partner, said: “We appreciate that Saint Joseph’s College will address the shortage of science teachers in our region. In the last few years, we have not had a large pool of applicants for posted STEM teacher positions. It is essential that students at the middle school receive rigorous and authentic learning opportunities in STEM education for not only academic success and opportunities, but to effectively prepare the next generation of innovators.”

The first Noyce Scholars will be awarded scholarships in Fall 2020. The grant’s investigators and creators are Dr. Patricia Waters, Assistant Professor of Education, Dr. Emily Lesher, Associate Professor of Science, and SMCC’s Dr. Daniel Moore, Professor of Biological Sciences.

“This partnership provides new opportunities for our students who have a passion for math and science,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “Besides helping our students, the program will benefit Maine’s educational system by allowing us to do our part in delivering a new generation of STEM teachers where they are most needed. This builds upon our mission of transforming lives and communities through education and training.”

For more information about GFSTM, the scholarship criteria and application process, see www.sjcme.edu/stem-ed.

About Saint Joseph’s College

Founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy in Portland, Maine, Saint Joseph’s College is Maine’s only Catholic liberal arts college. The 474-acre campus, located on the shore of Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine offers more than 40 undergraduate programs and a Division III athletic program to a population of approximately 1,000 on-campus students. In 2015 the College was selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to receive its Community Engagement Classification, highlighting the College’s focus on community service throughout its mission and daily interactions on campus and within local, regional, and global communities. In addition, Saint Joseph’s College provides certificates and undergraduate and advanced degrees to approximately 2,000 more working adults who reside throughout the United States and in more than 20 other countries through an online learning program.