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Grant Project to Produce STEM Leaders in Urban Schools

Michigan State University is partnering with global tech giant Wipro Ltd. to help meet the demand for math and science teachers who will be leaders in America’s urban school districts.

by Michigan State University
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A $2.8 million grant to Michigan State University will allow the college to help train math and science teachers in urban schools. Here, an MSU graduate teaches in a Chicago classroom.Photo courtesy of the MSU College of EducationFaculty members in the College of Education will use a $2.8 million, multi-year grant from the India-based company to offer a unique fellowship program to more than 100 teachers, starting this summer in Chicago.

“There is a critical shortage of excellent math and science teachers nationwide and even more so in urban school districts,” said project co-leader Sonya Gunnings-Moton, assistant dean in the College of Education. “We need leaders among teachers who can build not only their own capacity to improve learning, but also the capacity of their colleagues.”

The Wipro STEM Fellowship Program will include coursework leading to a Graduate Certificate in STEM Teaching and Leadership. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. All expenses will be covered for participants, who must commit to continue teaching in an urban school for at least two years.

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Participants will be expected to implement innovative teaching strategies in their own classrooms and develop professional learning communities through which fellow STEM teachers in their school can share ideas and support one another.

“This program is designed to develop each of these teachers into catalysts of change in disadvantaged communities of urban areas,” said Anurag Behar, chief sustainability officer for Wipro.

Wipro has a history of investing in educational programs throughout India and the United States, and the company’s chairman and founder, Azim Premji, has donated a substantial part of his wealth toward the goal of equitable, effective education in India. MSU has been assisting leaders of the new Azim Premji University in India with curriculum and faculty development for two years.

The fellowship program will be offered first to teachers in Chicago, with the possibility for expansion into other U.S. cities. MSU has a long-standing relationship with Chicago Public Schools as a partner site for the university’s teaching internship and initiatives to improve urban education.

“The cornerstone of providing a high quality STEM education for our students is ensuring we have exceptional math and science teachers leading the way,” said Aarti Dhupelia, chief officer of college and career success at Chicago Public Schools. “We are so grateful for this partnership with Wipro and Michigan State University that will have a transformational impact in our classrooms and communities.”

Teachers selected for the fellowship will receive a $5,000 stipend. They will become part of a broader MSU online community of educators and take courses that are offered through the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program, which has been honored nationally for best practices in teaching with technology.

Punya Mishra, professor of educational psychology and educational technology, is co-director of the fellowship. Assistant Professor Leigh Graves Wolf also is assisting.