Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

STAR Scholarship Program Enters Sixth and Final Year

Saturday, March 08, 2014

STAR Scholarship Program Poster

There is a significant need for science and math teachers at middle schools and high schools in North Carolina. Since 2009, the Watson College of Education in partnership with UNCW’s College of Arts and Sciences has successfully attracted 59 highly qualified individuals to the teaching profession through the STAR Program.

STAR, Scholarship Team in Action to Recruit, offers annual scholarships of up to $10,000 to students who aspire to teach math or science at the middle grades or high school level in North Carolina. In return for each year of support, students agree to complete two years of teaching in a high-need school. The program is entering its sixth and final year.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Noyce Foundation funds the STAR Program. Scholarships are available to math and science majors enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program in UNCW’s College of Arts and Sciences and to individuals who hold a B.A. in math or science and are interested in obtaining teacher certification through the Watson College. Scholarships are also available to working professionals and career changers who have a related undergraduate degree and are seeking Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or licensure in math or science at the middle grades or secondary level.

Since its inception, the UNCW STAR program has awarded scholarships totaling $606,000 to 59 students. In addition to financial support, the university provides STAR students with professional development workshops, resources to aid in classroom teaching, hands-on enrichment opportunities in the community and one-on one coaching and mentoring. Services are provided through the first year of teaching.

Cathy Barlow, project director and principal investigator for the STAR Program at UNCW, is proud of the university’s ability to attract so many highly qualified individuals to teaching, a high graduation rate, and the success many graduates have achieved in the classroom. Barlow attributes this to close collaboration across campus, strong partnerships with area school districts, and a shared commitment to ensuring student success.

Similar scholarships are offered at many colleges and universities, but most have an average annual enrollment of three to five students, while UNCW has been able to attract 12 to 15, Barlow said.

In addition to Barlow, Karen Wetherill, Paul Hosier and Martin Posey are also principal investigators on the UNCW STAR grant. Participation has been roughly split between undergraduates seeking teaching certification and career changers seeking certification or licensure, Wetherill said.

Enrollments have also been balanced among students pursuing concentrations in science and math. Thirty-three graduates are currently employed as middle or high school teachers and many early STAR graduates have been recognized for leadership potential in their districts, Wetherill said.  For example, Shelia Chase, a 2011 recipient, is now the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) coordinator at Mt. Airy High School. Chase teaches engineering and technical education and leads the Women in Engineering program.

The Noyce family created the Noyce Foundation in 1990 to honor the memory and legacy of Robert N. Noyce, co-founder of Intel and inventor of the integrated circuit, which fueled the computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name. The goal of the foundation is to help adults guide young people into productive lives.

The Noyce Foundation’s Teacher Scholarship Program, created in 2002, provides funding to institutions of higher education to provide scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers. All scholarship and stipend recipients are required to complete two years of teaching in a high-need school district for each year of support. The program seeks to increase the number of K-12 teachers with strong STEM knowledge who teach in high-need school districts across the country.

UNCW is currently accepting STAR Program applications for the 2014-15 school year. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/ed/star.