- Year 2017
- NSF Award #1136435
- Registration Current Noyce Scholar
- First Name Annette
- Last Name Wright-Smith
- Discipline Other: Anatomy/Physiology
- Institution Rio Salado College
- School Name and District Currently Teaching Phoenix Union High School
A nationwide shortage of qualified math and science teachers has led to sustained local, state, and federal efforts to recruit and retain additional teachers in these areas. The Rio Salado College (RSC) Science and Math Innovative Learning Environments (SMILE) Program for Encore Careers in Education has supported the recruitment and training of 40 STEM professionals to aid their transition into teaching careers in 7th-12th grade math and science classrooms in Arizona. Working with STEM-related industries in Arizona, Rio Salado College is identifying has identified STEM professionals who are interested in transitioning to teaching careers and has assisted them in meeting eligibility requirements and applying to the program. Twenty-five applicants have completed a comprehensive 15-month teacher certification program (based on the college’s Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program) with online course instruction and onsite student teaching experiences in conveniently located school districts. RSC continues to also provide mentoring and professional support to SMILE participants as they fulfill the required teaching commitment in high-need schools.
The primary goal of the SMILE program has been to increase the number and quality of math and science teachers available to high-need schools in Arizona. During five years of the program thirty-six (36) Post-Baccalaureate STEM Professionals have been recruited and have begun the program. Each Noyce Scholar received a stipend of $16,500 which helped to cover tuition, books, fees and some cost of living. The hybrid format of the SMILE program has allowed scholars to continue working as they complete online coursework, minimizing the financial impact of participation in the program and potentially limiting the period of unemployment to the time required for onsite student teaching. RSC has partnered with 31 school districts (including rural districts) and 19 STEM corporations/association to recruit and train STEM professionals who are re-careering to teach math or science in Arizona 7th – 12th grade classrooms. Seven cohorts of outstanding STEM professionals from Arizona industry has brought their STEM expertise and real life experiences to Arizona students. The RSC Noyce Scholars Program has committed to help t these STEM professionals transition into education by training them in pedagogy, student engagement, classroom management, and other 21st century teaching strategies.