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A $900,000 grant has been awarded to East Central University to provide scholarships and additional educational opportunities to students who commit to teach high school mathematics for six years in a "high-need" school district in Oklahoma.

ECU is the first university in Oklahoma to ever receive the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Grant. The five-year grant is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The purpose of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program is to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers.

ECU's Mathematics and Education Departments are working together to select 24 Noyce scholars from students with a strong academic background in mathematics who otherwise would not consider teaching K-12 mathematics as a career.

"We will select three cohorts of eight students each to become Noyce scholars in their sophomore year," said Dr. Robert Ferdinand, associate professor of mathematics and principal author of the grant proposal. "They will enter the program at the beginning of their junior year."

The scholars' selection will be based on academic merit with consideration given to financial need, diversity and physical disability, he said.

"After they complete a bachelor's degree in mathematics with a secondary teacher certification option, they will begin teaching mathematics in grades 7-12 in one of the collaborating schools in seven local and area school districts," Ferdinand said.

Ada, Allen, Byng, Latta, Seminole, Sulphur and Vanoss High Schools have committed to possibly hiring teachers who graduate in the program.

The Noyce grant personnel and ECU also will provide each teacher with several support mechanisms such as colloquia, master-mentor teachers, undergraduate research opportunities and travel expenses to attend conferences.

In addition to Ferdinand, ECU faculty involved with writing the grant proposal and securing the external funding are Dr. John Bedford (Education), Dr. Heather Hannah (Math), Dr. Vivian Whitney (Office of Sponsored Programs and Research) and former faculty member Dr. Linda Braddy (Math).

Dr. Janet Wansick (Math), and Dr. Marty Pennington and Dr. Nanette Schmitt (Education) also will assist with managing and running the program.

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