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Major Foundations Grant Substantial Sums for SNC Initiatives

Two new grants from influential national bodies will help fund SNC programs designed to meet community needs.

A National Science Foundation grant for $118,000 opens a new pathway for future STEM teachers at St. Norbert College. And a $36,625 vocational development grant from NetVUE – the nationwide network for vocation in undergraduate education – will help sponsor a multi-year initiative helping shape students’ plans for ongoing community engagement.

A pathway to teaching
The National Science Foundation has awarded SNC its six-figure grant to help create a minor in education as a pathway for science, math and computer science majors to obtain their teaching licenses.

St. Norbert, in partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) and the Green Bay Area Public School District, will collaborate to increase the number of highly qualified, diverse STEM-committed students choosing and completing STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education programs.

“This is an extremely timely and important collaboration between the STEM disciplines and teacher education at St. Norbert, and between SNC and NWTC,” says David Bailey, divisional dean of natural sciences and professor of biology at St. Norbert.

“Given the shortage of math and science teachers at all levels in the state of Wisconsin, the addition of this pathway will ensure a balance between the broadened Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s licensure requirements, and St. Norbert’s mission and long-standing commitment to the development of content knowledge and community engagement to meet the diverse needs among Wisconsin students.”

The project aims to develop a strong external partnership with NWTC that will encourage students transferring to St. Norbert to choose STEM education at St. Norbert. A further goal is to strengthen existing urban community partnerships with K-12 schools, and develop additional rural and suburban K-12 school partnerships.

“We are thrilled for this opportunity to work with our partners at St. Norbert College toward our shared goal in providing clear career paths for students,” says Kathryn Rogalski, NWTC vice president of learning.

“STEM students often leverage their versatile background to become instructors, though many do not have a direct pathway to obtain a teaching license. This grant will allow NWTC to develop a track to recruit students to begin in the laboratory science technology program and transfer into a STEM education program.”

St. Norbert will create a STEM teaching minor for students who decide to pursue teaching later in their college careers – including students who are recruited from a STEM major and students who transfer from NWTC’s laboratory science technology program. Students will still be able to graduate in four years.

The minor will begin with a foundational course that will focus on community-engaged teaching, including field experience in a Green Bay area public school.

The grant is part of the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which seeks to encourage talented STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 math, science, engineering and computer science teachers. The program invites creative and innovative proposals that address the critical need for recruiting and preparing highly effective elementary and secondary STEM teachers in high-need local educational agencies.

A call to serve the common good
The NetVUE Program Development Grant of $36,625, also recently awarded to St. Norbert, is for the college’s Scholars for Community-Engaged Vocation program.

Rebecca Lahti ’00 (Emmaus Center), says: “This project is exciting because we’re working across divisions and departments to help students integrate their commitment to community engagement and the common good with a deep sense of purpose. We know that so many St. Norbert College graduates are out there impacting communities in positive ways, and we hope to equip and inspire more students to join them.”

The program will deeply connect the work of vocation exploration with curricular and co-curricular service learning.

The vocational development grant is intended to help schools looking to expand their current vocational offerings. About 30 students will make up the first cohort at SNC, and students will be involved in the program for two to three years, ideally beginning in their sophomore year.

The program will draw from students interested in service, community engagement and social justice. Participants who complete the pathway will be able to articulate a future commitment to community engagement that works for justice and is rooted in their understanding and experience of vocation.

April 27, 2021