Jan. 14, 2021 — CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) teacher candidates planning to teach middle or high school math or science can apply for a new $8,000 residency grant funded through the CSU-wide Math and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI).  

Assistant Professor of Education Kara Naidoo, Ph.D. wrote the grant, which is called the Math and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI) STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Challenge.  The MSTI is an effort by the CSU Chancellor’s Office to increase the number of credentialed and highly-qualified mathematics and science teachers in middle and high schools. 

“I wrote for the grant so math and science teacher candidates would have their teacher education program funded and they would have a scholarship to pay for the cost of their tuition during their student teaching,” Naidoo said. “This reduces the financial burden on students because student teaching during the program is a full-time job. And the grant will help pay their mentor teacher to help support and train them.” 

Naidoo captured a screen shot of the 16 recipients when she told them via Zoom that they had been awarded a scholarship. Everyone who applied received a scholarship. 

“I was so shocked! I didn’t expect to get it,” said 2020 CSUCI Biology graduate Lisette Torres. “I want to teach biology in high school. Students don’t really appreciate how fun STEM courses are. I want to make them entertaining.” 

Torres is relieved she won’t have to get a full-time job while pursuing her teaching credential. When she was an undergraduate, she worked three jobs during the summer to support herself and help her family, where she is the oldest of five siblings. 

“With the COVID situation, my mom is a stay-at-home mom and my dad’s construction work is fluctuating right now and I had to do what I could to help out at home,” Torres said. “I play violin in a mariachi band and I was also cleaning offices and restrooms in Ventura. I was also tutoring at the (CSUCI) STEM Center.” 

Scholarship recipient Anna Clause is working as a student teacher for 7th grade science at E.O. Green Middle School. Clause said the scholarship means she won’t have to take on the burden of another student loan.  

With the heart for social justice, Clause said she loves teaching science to middle schoolers not only for the joy of science, but because of the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which emphasize hands-on projects, integrate several scientific disciplines and focuses on critical thinking.  

Clause believes the NGSS will help think critically about all the information they receive, which will make them better and more discerning citizens.  

“I’ve always had an activist streak in me. I was the one annoying people outside of Trader Joe’s,” Clause said. “I adore this generation—Generation Z—The Zoomers are the most socially active individuals. I’m so excited about them.” 

The new standards are going to create even more demand for science and math teachers in California, which is already experiencing a shortage. California needs at least 33,000 new math and science teachers within the next 10 years, according to a 2016 report by the Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative. 

Naidoo also stressed that scholarship money and vouchers for certification exams and preparation materials to become a teacher are available to any undergraduate students interested in taking the pre-requisites necessary to enter the teaching credential program for math and science and for current elementary school teachers who want to add on a foundational level mathematics or science credential.  

For more information, contact kara.naidoo@csuci.edu.

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