ICI, UIndy CELL receive grant from the state of Indiana

The Independent Colleges of Indiana and the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning were awarded $2.4 million by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics teacher training. The money was awarded as a part of STEM Teach Indiana’s fourth adaption of the program.

“This program aids high school teachers needing graduate-level courses in STEM discipline areas to meet the Higher Learning Commission requirement for teaching dual-credit courses by 2022,” a UIndy press release said. 

According to ICI Vice President for Strategic Collaborations Laura Bridges, the grant will help teachers obtain the credentials that they need to be accredited as dual-credit teachers by the state of Indiana and by the Higher Learning Commission. 

The credentialing courses are available online, in person or as a hybrid of the two, according to Bridges. These courses are at no cost to teachers because the tuition and materials are paid for by the grant.

The money will also help K-12 teachers pay for STEM workshops and give out scholarships to attend statewide conferences, according to CELL Director of Strategic Initiatives Trish Wlodarczyk. 

“There are a lot of math conferences. There are other computer science conferences…. It’s a very small amount of the grant,”  Wlodarczyk said. “But we will award some scholarships to teachers to attend those conferences for free.” 

Between the spring semester of 2020 and the summer semester of 2021, at least six semesters of courses will be offered to teachers who need dual-credit accreditation. Of the organizations that received money for this grant cycle, STEM Teach received the largest amount, according to a UIndy press release.

“We think that [the money] indicates that…the Commission for Higher Education feels really good about the work we’ve been able to do and that they continue to fund the program because it’s been very productive,” Bridges said. 

While this does not impact students, aside from possibly seeing the courses taking place around UIndy, faculty will have the opportunity to participate in these courses. This can help extend their course offerings or help local teachers get credentials, Bridges said. 

These courses aim to increase both the amount and quality of teachers in STEM fields, according to STEM Teach’s website. 

“We know that employers are really looking for college graduates and prior to that, high school graduates who have up to date and in depth knowledge of the STEM fields and we have a shortage in that area right now,” Bridges said. “So we need to build the pipeline by starting to increase STEM education…so that students come to college prepared to take on these rigorous STEM classes.” 

The Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education and are working on proposals for courses and workshops for the program, according to Wlodarczyk. 

“The hope is that by providing more current and relevant training to teachers that are already in the classroom and don’t have time to go back or the money to go back and pay for classes, that they can utilize these classes and then bring that expertise to all students in Indiana,” Wlodarczyk said. “That’s the ultimate hope, that we are increasing the quality of STEM instruction in Indiana.”