1.4 million grant builds math momentum with academic partnerships


Jimmy Carroll

Noyce Scholar Dario Gudino and Dana Richter-Egger, Ph.D., monitor a high-altitude weather balloon. Photo courtesy of UNO Communications.

The National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program has funded a $1.4 million grant to help future high school math teachers graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).

The NebraskaMATH Omaha Noyce Partnership will partner with Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and Omaha Public Schools (OPS) through September 2024.

Dana Richter-Egger, Ph.D., is a General Chemistry professor at UNO. He said this is a great grant and is part of a larger effort on campus to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at UNO, as well as at the K-12 level through courses in teacher education.

“This grant and the larger effort is the work of a great many people,” Richter-Egger said.

UNO’s Noyce program has given participating students several benefits. One such benefit is the opportunity for first- and second-year students to become “Noyce Interns.” Third- and fourth-year students will have opportunities for financial, academic and professional development as “Noyce Scholars.”

There will also be continued support for program graduates who will be teachers in high-need schools. A school is considered high-need when many families in the school system have low incomes, when teachers are teaching material that they did not intend to teach and when a large teacher turnover rate is present.

Therese Knipp from the MCC grants department said there has been an increase of opportunity as a result of this partnership. Knipp said the many different backgrounds of MCC students have been a help when finding participants for the Noyce Program.

Approximately 21 students have been in the Noyce Program since its founding in 2014, said Michael Matthews, UNO associate professor of mathematics.

“Every Noyce scholar gives back by working with mentors and in their neighborhood for 12 hours,” Matthews said.

The Noyce Partners will further look into how learning strategies impact the success of math teachers in the long run. Bellevue Public Schools, Council Bluffs Public Schools, OPS and Ralston Public Schools are among the current districts using the NebraskaMATH Noyce Program.