Mercer received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop computer science teachers in rural Georgia

MACON/ATLANTA – The Mercer University College of Education has received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop master’s of computer science teachers for schools in rural Georgia.

The five-year, $1,499,816 project is managed by the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education and the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Educators.

The project aims to meet the national need to develop high-caliber computer science teacher leaders who are ready to enhance the capacity of rural school systems to provide access to high-quality education for all students.

Dr. Thomas Kupala, Dean of the College of Education, serves as the principal investigator for the grant project, along with co-principal investigators Dr. Susie Morrissey, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the College of Education; Bob Allen, Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Dr.. Dr. Anthony Choi is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering.

The project includes partnerships with Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, computer science for the Georgia Academic Partners Network, and high-needs school districts in Clinch, Coffee, Evans, Jeff Davis, Tattnall, Treutlen and Wheeler counties, as well as Dublin City schools.

Georgia Department of Education data shows that of the 81,144 Georgia middle and high school students enrolled in computer science courses during the 2020-2021 school year, fewer than 20 percent were students in rural school systems. In addition, of the 309 accredited computer science teachers, only 86 were taught in rural schools.

“Job reports indicate thousands of computer science vacancies in Georgia and many more job vacancies requiring thinking skills that are taught in computer science courses,” said Dr. Kupala. “Students attending rural schools in our state, especially members of underrepresented groups, do not have access to computer science education to prepare them for these positions compared to students attending urban and suburban schools.”

“We are excited to work with educators who are dedicated to providing their students with computer science opportunities that will enable them to pursue careers in a well-paying industry with a shortage of applicants,” added Dr. Morrissey.

The project team will recruit and train 16 certified fellow Computer Science Teachers (MTFs), including a middle school teacher and a high school teacher from each of the eight partner regions.

MTFs will receive tuition and a stipend for completing a 14-month online Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) program in an instructor leadership degree program, followed by online computer science mini courses, personal computer science leadership pools, and system-level computer science planning events.

“This program will not only develop pedagogical concepts and skills for teaching computer science courses but also to serve as computer science leaders for their school districts. As computer science teacher leaders, they will be able to guide other computer science teachers and inform school and district level decisions about the curriculum,” said Dr. Kupala. Offers courses and career paths.

Nonprofit partners, such as the Georgia Center for Rural Health Innovation, the University of Georgia Agricultural Extension Service and the Software Engineering Group at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, will provide MTFs with career-focused computer science links within rural communities.

“When Dean Kupala asked me to join this team, I was thrilled,” said Dr. Allen. “Computer science education is one of my interests. During my years at Mercer, I have conducted several introductory computer programming workshops for K-12 teachers in central Georgia. This scholarship enables Mercer to build a sustainable platform to encourage and develop high-quality computer science teachers across the state of Georgia. Georgia”.

“We want to make an impact and put in place sustainable policies and mechanisms, so that every school district is able to continue what it started, and all future students will benefit,” Dr. Choi added.

About the College of Education

Mercer University’s Teff College of Education—with campuses in Macon and Atlanta and the university’s two regional academic centers—is more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for a former girls’ college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also striving to transform student lives. . For more information, visit education.mercer.edu.

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