Carlow Receives $1.2 Million Secondary Education Grant

Drew Wilson -

Carlow University has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to prepare secondary teachers to teach STEM courses in high-need school districts.

a STEM classroom with molecules and atomic models

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Carlow University a nearly $1.2 million grant through the NSF's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program for the purpose of preparing secondary level teachers to teach STEM effectively in high-need school districts. 

"We are honored that Carlow University was selected for this competitive grant and confident that it will advance our efforts to prepare secondary level teachers to teach STEM more effectively," said Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, President, Carlow University. "STEM education is a significant part of shaping our region's future workforce, and Carlow has been at the forefront of the instruction in such efforts."

The project, which is titled "Preparing Secondary STEM Teachers with Experiential Learning and Computational Thinking Skills for Effectiveness in High-Need School Districts," has five objectives:


  • Recruit an increasing number of STEM undergraduates as Noyce Carlow Scholars (NCS).
  • Recruit and enroll an increasing number of STEM professionals in graduate education programs.
  • Retain and graduate the NCS students with a strong commitment to teaching in high-need schools.
  • Support 100 percent of NCS students completing their secondary certification to secure employment as a teacher in a high-need school.
  • Ensure 96 percent of NCS students will fulfill their teaching commitment in a high-need school.


To meet the five objectives, Carlow will offer multiple experiential learning opportunities throughout the program with a special emphasis on development of computational thinking skills and best practices to support a diverse student population.  NCS students will gain experience from activities ranging from peer tutoring to STEM expos, internships, daylong workshops, and weeklong robotics courses.

"Carlow will recruit 26 students and prepare them to be highly effective biology, chemistry, and mathematics secondary education teachers either in the Pittsburgh Public Schools or other high-need districts," said Keely Baronak, EdD, chair of the Department of Education at Carlow.  "The Carlow secondary education program in STEM is a five-year post-baccalaureate degree. NCS students can enter as junior STEM majors and complete three years, or STEM professionals can enroll at Carlow to complete the MEd in secondary education leading to initial teaching certification. The MEd in secondary education was designed as a one-year program with accelerated eight-week courses taught in a hybrid fashion."

The project will help address high-need teaching shortages in PPS and other school districts.  The program is under the direction of Baronak, along with Frank Ammer, PhD, chair of the department of Biology; Nancy E. Jacqmin, PhD, professor, mathematics; William Kowallis, PhD, associate professor, chemistry, and Ann Bisignani, MPM, graduate program coordinator.

Carlow University's model for teacher education involves creating opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning, developing computational thinking as a pedagogy, and supporting students with a committed team that includes an advisor, a mentor and a coach. This team provides wrap-around support throughout the degree process and into the first few years of their teaching career. 

"Being prepared to teach in high-need classrooms means preparation and deep understanding of culturally responsive teaching," said Baronak.  'Our students will be supported by a team of dual advisors from STEM and education, as well as a teacher-mentor from PPS, and a coach that the follows the scholar from enrollment through the first three years of teaching."

This program will receive a university-wide commitment to ensure its success. Carlow University is a member of - or in partnership with - several local and regional STEM and educational consortia including School District/University Collaborative (with PPS), REMAKE Learning, A+ Schools, and the Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab Satellite Network.

"This NSF-funded project exemplifies the kinds of inter-disciplinary and cross-departmental collaboration that is needed to facilitate meaningful innovation in our programs, and new opportunities for the next generation of Carlow students," said Matthew Gordley, PhD, Dean of the College of Learning and Innovation at Carlow.  "The fostering of such a fruitful partnership between education and the STEM disciplines is a key part of why the College of Learning and Innovation was formed in the first place. And this kind of creative collaboration with external partners will continue to be the key for offering a transformative Carlow education in the years ahead."

For more information about admission to Carlow University and the Noyce Carlow Scholar Program, please call (412) 578-6059.

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