Noyce Scholarship Jumpstarts STEM Education Careers
One Noyce Scholar describes his journey: 'hesitant' to 'life-changing'
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
In July, Saint Joseph’s University announced that it would be the lead institution on a $1.45 million partnership grant from the National Science Foundation funding scholarships designed to recruit, train and retain STEM teachers in high-need schools in Philadelphia. Applications open this December for 55 total scholarships over four years, which will be distributed between SJU, Arcadia University, Bryn Mawr College, Temple University and LaSalle University.
We sat down with Tyler Gaspich '11, '12 (M.S.), Director of Academic Technologies at the Academy of Notre Dame, who participated in the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program in 2012, to learn more.
Did you always know you wanted to teach?
I did! I actually wanted to be a history teacher in high school, but my uncle suggested I consider math because, and I quote, "the jobs are much easier and you're pretty good at this math thing." He was the dean of a local community college and text doesn't do his tone justice.
When did you find out about the Noyce Scholarship? Why did you decide to apply?
Saint Joseph's had just started the Noyce Scholarship around my sophomore year. Only a few students in my graduating year focused on math education, so we were made well-aware of the opportunity. I wanted to set myself up the best I could post-graduation, both financially and with an established network of teachers. I applied for the scholarship before my Masters year.
The Noyce Scholarship was something that I was honestly hesitant about when I first applied. But this decision led me to an indescribably incredible experience that I would not trade for the world. I remain grateful for the colleagues I worked alongside, the administration who helped me learn classroom management and respected the depth of work teachers displayed every day, and the students who — despite some unbelievable challenges — still put a smile on my face when I think about them. You cannot put a price tag on that experience.
What was your experience like with the Noyce Scholarship?
When I say life-changing, I'm really not using hyperbole. Financially, the scholarship was a blessing and has helped my family immensely with student loans. The networking opportunities yielded incredible insights. But it was the teaching experience afterwards that truly altered my perspective on education, politics and people overall. Teaching at Mastery Charter School helped me develop a sense of empathy I have never experienced in my life, and provided a unique and deeply personal look into the systemic issues facing too many people in our nation. As much as you can read and discuss issues of injustice, sitting on the front lines was an eye-opening experience that I would recommend to any teacher who is truly passionate about reframing the discussion around education. I fully credit my decision to apply for the Noyce Scholarship as being the catalyst for these events in my life.
Are you still teaching now?
I am. I'm currently at the Academy of Notre Dame, a 6-12 [grade] all-girls school in Villanova. There I'm the Director of Academic Technologies, and I teach statistics, algebra and design thinking, a problem-solving course I created. I'm an adjunct professor for the Saint Joseph's Math and DSS [Decisions & Systems Sciences] departments. I'll be looking into PhD programs in the next few years with a focus on STEM education.
Students interested in applying for the Noyce program can contact Dr. Tetyana Berezovski, director of the graduate programs in math education, at email@example.com or 610-660-1554.