Newest program from The Citadel STEM Center aims to support math education leaders in rural areas

Padgett-Thomas Barracks is seen from Summerall Field at The Citadel

Learning to Lead, or L2L, is a five-year project supported by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, or NOYCE, that is designed to develop rural mathematics teacher leaders. The project aims to provide sustainable improvements to the quality of mathematics classes in rural schools through several objectives, including: enhancing the educational knowledge and skills of master teacher fellows (MTFs), developing the leadership of MTFs, collaborating with MTFs to establish the South Carolina Rural Math Teacher Network (SC-RMTN) and creating professional development resources to maintain and sustain the SC-RMTN in the future.

NOYCE’s goal is to broaden participation by connecting rural teachers to professional development opportunities and fostering collaboration between them. L2L NOYCE is a collaboration between The Citadel’s STEM Center of Excellence, Zucker Family School of Education and Swain Family School of Science and Mathematics as well as Georgetown County School District. Over the course of five years, L2L NOYCE will develop teachers into rural teacher leaders – educators who go beyond their own classrooms to take on leadership roles that contribute to the development of other teachers.

The NSF’s NOYCE program supports talented STEM undergraduates to become effective K-12 teachers as well as helping experienced K-12 educators become teacher leaders in high-need school districts. Additionally, the program supports research on the effectiveness and retention of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts.

“We are very grateful to be able to continue the work of the Center for Mathematical Inquiry and the Center for Mathematical Literacy, funded by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, with this L2L NOYCE grant,” said Jennifer Albert, Ph.D., director of The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence. “It allows us to build on the progress we’ve made with previous grants and with teachers we’ve already been working with. We will work closely with them as they strengthen their leadership skills over the next five years.”

Apart from the SC-RMTN, professional development opportunities and the professional learning community, MTFs participating in L2L will receive two additional South Carolina add-on certification endorsements and will qualify for advancement to the next pay scale in their field. Teacher participants will complete 30 hours of graduate courses over the span of four years free of charge and, in addition, will each receive a stipend of $10,000 per year for five years.

By extending the graduate courses over multiple years, MTFs take ownership of the knowledge, resources and communities they have helped to create, which can increase the likelihood of the project’s continuation long after its initial period.

To be eligible for the program, the 20 participants had to meet several requirements, including teaching mathematics in South Carolina public schools that serve rural students, hold a master’s degree, actively participate in all L2L NOYCE professional learning activities over the five-year duration, implement the covered content in their classrooms and actively participate in one online graduate course per semester.

The STEM Center at The Citadel facilitates outreach initiatives to increase P-20 student interest, participation and opportunities in the STEM disciplines and develops innovative programming related to teacher preparation and teacher professional development activities.