News & Information

NSF grants for Sac State will help train teachers


A pair of National Science Foundation grants totaling more than $1.63 million will provide scholarships to several Sacramento State students and ultimately create more math and science instructors for middle and high schools in high-needs areas.

The grant is awarded in two phases and will be overseen by Department of Teacher Education Professor Deidre B. Sessoms and Professors Gary P. Shannon and Kelly McDonald from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

In Phase I, more than $1.27 million will provide what’s known as the Robert Noyce Scholarship – $12,000 per year to each of 38 Sacramento State students working toward a teaching job in high-needs schools. The students also will receive supplementary support material, and attend conferences where they’ll meet experienced teachers and learn best practices. They will also take part in group activities, such as the University’s “Expanding Your Horizons” workshop, which encourages middle-school girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“In these times, anything we can do to support our students is a great help,” Sessoms says. “And there’s a real need for math and science teachers.”

Another component of Phase I involves the Los Rios Community College District. A group of high school students will take classes at American River College taught by community college students paired with Sacramento State Noyce scholars.

Phase II of the grant earmarks $364,000 to train 24 industry professionals who want to become teachers. This includes people who are working as geologists, computer programmers and engineers. They receive many of the same benefits as the Sacramento State students. “They’ll do a lot of activities together,” Sessoms says.

As part of the grant, Chico State received $364,000 for Noyce Scholarships, and the two professional groups will exchange duties at times, giving the Chico group experience teaching in an urban environment and the Sacramento State students experience in a rural setting.

The grant also supports cultural competency training for the participants, teaching them how to connect with the families and communities of their students.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui congratulated the recipients. “This federal grant goes a long way in supporting Sacramento State students who are training to become math and science teachers – fields that are critical for the region and to our country’s ability to compete in the future,” she said. “The collaboration demonstrated by the grantees is an example of key stakeholders working together to enable local students to get the best possible education.”

The program is currently funded by a previous NSF grant that will soon expire. The new funding will cover students beginning in Fall 2012, providing a seamless transition for the program.

For more information on Robert Noyce Scholarships, visit For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

– Craig Koscho