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Friday, August 7, 2020 - 2:00pm

In July, Mercy College’s STEM Master Teacher Fellows program video was one of 11 curated by the National Science Foundation in partnership with the Quality Education for Minorites (QEM) Network under the theme “HBCUs as a Strategic Resources to Advance Diversity in STEM.” Though Mercy is not a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), it is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), and Mercy’s STEM Master Teacher Fellows program does advance diversity in STEM. Mercy’s video is entitled “Preparing STEM Master Teacher Fellows in the Greater New York City Area,” and it was originally created as part of the National Science Foundation’s 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase, which is a type of virtual conference.

Since its posting in May, Mercy’s video has received over 2,000 views and dozens of comments. The STEM for All Video Showcase includes a total of 171 videos this year, which have been played over 43,000 times by visitors from 155 countries.

“To solve the problems of the future, we need diverse perspectives and people from all different cultures to participate in thinking about these problems and coming up with solutions,” said Amanda Gunning, associate professor and co-director of Mercy’s Center for STEM Education — which developed the STEM Master Teacher Fellows program — and chair of Mercy’s secondary education department. “We can't just have the same people who traditionally have gone into these fields. That's why it's so important for our teachers to help encourage our students today to pursue those careers for tomorrow.”

The National Science Foundation funds Mercy’s STEM Master Teacher Fellows program and similar programs at other institutions in an effort to meet the nation’s growing need for K-12 educators in STEM. Mercy’s $1.46 million grant funds two cohorts of seven teachers — for a total of 14 — over six years to take courses in STEM pedagogy at Mercy, develop leadership skills and lead projects in their districts to support STEM education. Fellows receive mentorship from Mercy faculty and community partners, attend a hands-on summer workshop and receive an annual, grant-funded salary supplement. Fellows are currently teaching science or math and were nominated by leaders in four partner school districts: Yonkers, New Rochelle, Port Chester and Elmsford.

Historically, teachers who wanted to make a bigger impact in their districts often moved into administrative positions, meaning that they would no longer teach. In contrast, the STEM Master Teacher Fellows program gives teachers a way to lead while continuing to teach. “For teachers who already have so much experience in and passion for STEM, this program gives them a new way to lead from within their district,” said Gunning. “Some teachers know they have more to give, but they don’t want to leave the classroom. This is a great way to use their expertise to support other teachers and all students.”

Fellows report that the program — which is in its second year — is already making a meaningful impact on their practice. “Sometimes kids think about engineering or technology, and they think that it's something that's not for them, particularly in the school district where I teach,” explained Marguerita Street, high school math teacher at Palisade Preparatory School in Yonkers and a teacher in the first cohort of Mercy’s STEM Master Teacher Fellows program. “And so being a part of this program, I'm able to give the students learning experiences that help them see that one day they can grow up and be scientists and engineers as well.” Starting in the fall, the first cohort of Fellows will begin implementing leadership projects of their own design to support STEM teaching and learning in their districts.

To view Mercy’s video, “Preparing STEM Master Teacher Fellows in the Greater New York City Area,” click here.

To learn more about Mercy’s STEM Master Teacher Fellows program, click here.