ICHE awards CELL with $2.7 million for STEM Teach Initiative

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The Indiana Commission for Higher Learning has awarded the University of Indianapolis Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning along with the Independent Colleges of Indiana with a grant for $2.7 million for the STEM Teach Initiative. According to UIndy 360, the initiative is tailored toward high school educators looking to complete graduate level STEM courses in order to meet requirements for the Higher Learning Commission to teach dual credit courses. CELL is partnered with the ICI for the sixth time in a row for funding for STEM Teach. 

The ICI and CELL apply for a grant every two years, according to the Director of Strategic Initiatives for CELL Trish Wlodarczyk. CELL and the ICI apply through the ICHE for a STEM teacher recruitment grant, and UIndy is not the only recipient.

“There are a number of other recipients and it has a couple different layers,” Wlodarczyk said. “One is to credential dual-credit teachers in STEM fields. Another is professional development for STEM and then as the title speaks, it’s a STEM teacher recruitment grant so some grants are to recruit more teachers into STEM fields, kind of building a pipeline of pre-service teachers.”

According to Wlodarczyk, the STEM Teach initiative is meant to work with current and upcoming dual credit teachers. When teachers apply for dual-credit credentials through the STEM Teach program, those applying have to be selected as the dual-credit teachers for their respective schools in order to take the program courses. CELL provides professional development opportunities to K-12 educators who are looking to participate in the program. 

“[Teachers] can also apply to STEM Teach and we have a few graduate certificates in STEM education,” Wlodarczyk said. “UIndy offers one, they’ll take the four courses at UIndy and receive a grad certificate in STEM education. And that could be for any K-12 teacher, so that’s just getting more professional development in STEM fields.” 

According to Wlodarczyk, once CELL receives the grant award for its initiative, the center submits a request for proposals to all colleges and universities in Indiana. CELL reviews the proposed courses to make sure the content counts for dual-credit credentialing and then is accepted into the program catalog. 

“Our catalog will consist of 18 credit sequences, or bundles of courses, for teachers to take those courses through us,” Wlodarczyk said. “Then we would pay each participating college the teachers’ cost of tuition and then also for textbooks, so teachers don’t pay anything out-of -pocket.”

Completion of the program can usually take about two years, Wlodarczyk said, and traditionally takes six semesters depending on if the course would take six to eight weeks within the traditional semester. According to UIndy 360, registration teachers accepted into the program for courses is available based on teacher’s priority status and occurs several months before each semester begins. According to Wlodarczyk, CELL has a steady pipeline of funding and teachers getting graduate certificates can also go on to get master’s degrees through the center. 

“We credential a lot of teachers,” Wlodarczyk said. “We get teachers graduate certificates, and then they can even go on to get a masters through us. So as long as the STEM teacher recruitment fund stays alive through the legislature, we continue to have successful outcomes. I think we will continue to be funded, hopefully.”

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