Mercy College was awarded a $1,196,024 grant by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. This grant will establish a new five-year cohort for the existing Mercy College Intensive STEM Teacher Initiative (MISTI I) that will prepare 16 math and science teacher Scholars to become experienced STEM teachers and social justice advocates in high-need school districts in the Bronx and Westchester County.
As part of the MISTI II program, the Scholars will undertake a full-year clinical residency in partner schools and complete coursework that supports authentic integration of engineering and technology. During their first year, Scholars will receive intensive support, both from clinical supervisors visiting their classrooms and from their cohort through regular meetings. In subsequent years, they will advance their practice through deep reflection in specialized Vertical Professional Learning Communities.
Building on lessons learned from MISTI I, the support Scholars will receive extends beyond academics. Principal Investigator and Mercy Professor of Secondary Science Education Meghan Marrero, Ed.D., explained that many MISTI I participants were first-generation college students who needed guidance in areas such as navigating college life, transitioning to a graduate program, finding a job and being a new professional. This type of support is built into MISTI II.
MISTI II also involves an explicit focus on social justice in order to help Scholars actively work to break down barriers and address inequities in their school communities. Marrero explained that many MISTI I participants wanted to address the inequities they saw in their schools, but they did not always know how to do so. MISTI II aims to equip Scholars with the right tools early in the program so they can devise ways to promote equity and empower their students to tackle issues in their school, community and beyond.
While MISTI II will undoubtedly train 16 strong, committed STEM teachers, the program will ultimately impact all of Mercy’s STEM teacher preparation programs. “There's always a shortage of math and science teachers, and math and science teachers actually leave the profession at statistically higher rates than other teachers,” explained Marrero. “We hope that we'll be able to apply some of the supportive structures to all of our programs so that we can help our graduates remain in the profession.”