UTEP and EPISD to receive $1.2M grant to impulse STEM educators


Ivan Pierre Aguirre

Amy Wagler and company that collaborated on an NSF grant to improve STEM education, Friday, June 7, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications

Marisol Chavez, Contributor

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will grant $1.2 million to the partnership between The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) to contribute to the formation of future STEM teachers through a teaching preparation program, according to a UTEP news release. 

The program will begin at the start of the fall 2019 semester, recruiting nine junior-standing students. Students who are selected to participate will receive a scholarship of $5,000 every year throughout the duration of the program.

“Of course, there’s a payoff, and that is that they participate fully in this teacher preparation program that we’ll be offering. And, secondly, the NSF requires that for every year of support that they receive, that they spend two years teaching after graduation,” said Amy Wagler, Ph.D., associate chair in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at UTEP and the grant’s principal investigator.

The support will come directly from the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which aims to eliminate the “critical need” for STEM K-12 teachers by encouraging the pursuit of a career in teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, the news release said. 

“STEM teachers tend to drop out within their first five years of teaching and they’ll leave to pursue a different profession,” Wagler said.

The program will tackle two perspectives: Teaching-training and research. In the program, students will strengthen their teaching skills through a project-based training, which is coordinated with EPISD’s curriculum so it can be responsive to their needs. At the same time, UTEP researchers, led by Wagler, will conduct a data analytics project.

“We’ll be using social network analysis to understand avenues and pathways of support for pre-service teachers as they grow into in-service teachers,” Wagler said. “We’re hoping that that data analysis will really uncover knowledge about why teachers leave and support mechanisms that school districts can offer to keep their teachers. Through this grant and our partnership with EPISD, we can strengthen pathways that will guide our students to success and prepare them for the meaningful work that they will conduct when they graduate.” 

UTEP students interested in applying for the program can contact Wagler through the Department of Mathematical Sciences at (915) 747 5761 or at [email protected]