BY ELLA BURROWS
The Sunset Atrium of the Fort Hays State University Memorial Union was filled with smiles and hope for the future on April 22, 2022, as U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran announced that FHSU would be awarded a National Science Foundation grant in the amount of 1.2 million dollars.
FHSU President Tisa Mason opened the event by highlighting the 100,000 open STEM teaching positions, an issue this grant aims to combat.
Mason then welcomed Paul Adams, chair of the College of Education, to speak on what this grant will mean not only for FHSU students but also for the future of education as a whole.
Adams highlighted that although this grant is mainly within the College of Education and the Peter Werth College of Science, Technology, and Mathematics, it will benefit FHSU as a whole.
Adams noted FHSU as being the #1 producer of transition to teaching graduates in Kansas, but feels that we are “losing potential champions for education.”
It was these potential champions for education that Moran had in mind when he assisted FHSU in receiving this grant.
“This is a very valuable grant because we need teachers, we need all kinds of teachers, in Kansas and across the country. Fort Hays has been one of the places historically that really excels in teacher education, but one of the places that we lack teachers the most is STEM,” Moran said.
Moran, an FHSU alum himself is from Plainville and has felt the effects of the teacher shortages that are often worse in rural areas.
“The core of this program is that there are brilliant, hard-working students in rural communities,” Moran said.
To combat these shortages in Kansas, this grant from the National Science Foundation will support 30 individuals who have completed STEM degrees. It will also provide a $22,650 stipend to those who complete an additional year of college to earn a teaching license.
In the hopes of getting STEM teachers into more rural communities, this grant also provides students with a relocation allowance to move into rural communities.
The recruitment and retention of teachers are a major component of this grant. This grant will provide opportunities for STEM teachers across the state to take professional development courses to make them more marketable and valuable across the state. Commonly STEM teachers are more knowledgeable in one area than others, so this grant will help teachers strengthen those areas and provide students in rural areas with the best education possible.
Moran highlighted that rural communities are vibrant, can-do places that simply lack STEM teachers.
For this reason, the National Science Foundation grant also includes a partnership with Deerfield and Dighton School Districts and the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center.
Moran hopes that through this grant, “FHSU will raise the bar in STEM education.”
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