College Receives State Grant to Encourage Math, Science Teaching Careers
East Central College has been awarded a state “Grow Your Own” grant to encourage students in its education program to pursue careers in teaching math and science at the middle school level.
The College is receiving $45,000 through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in the form of a Developing an Educator Workforce that Expands Yearly (DEWEY) award to address the critical need of STEM teachers in the region.
ECC was one of five two-year colleges in Missouri awarded a DEWEY grant with the intent to inspire more students to pursue careers in education.
Dr. Robyn Walter, ECC Vice President of Academic Affairs, said math and science were strategically chosen due to their historically low enrollment certification rates in the service area, as well as the pressing need for teachers in these fields within local school districts.
“We anticipate that by offering incentives for students to pursue certification areas with historically low enrollment statewide, those students would be more likely to consider those certification areas over others,” Walter said.
Under this innovative initiative, ECC is set to offer $1,000 scholarships to complete their first year of an Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) focused on Middle School math or science. Upon completing their second year at ECC and providing proof of enrollment at a transfer institution for certification in Middle School math and science, students will receive an additional $2,000 to continue to pursue their bachelor’s degree.
“We selected these areas due to their historical low enrollment in our service region, and the school districts we serve are in critical need of educators in these fields,” said Greg Stotler, Assistant Professor, Education/Teacher Coordinator at ECC. “Students who choose science or math programs oftentimes are drawn into professions with higher salaries.”
The College expects to award the $1,000 scholarships in the Spring of 2024.
“This money goes straight to students in a joint effort of growing our own educators,” Walter added.
The DEWEY grant aligns ECC with their four-year transfer partners, including Missouri S&T and Central Methodist University (CMU), who can further support students through the Missouri Teacher Recruitment Scholarship opportunity during their student teaching experience. CMU and Missouri S&T are among the 15 four-year colleges in the state to receive $70,000 each in DEWEY grants.
ECC is also hopeful that DESE will expand scholarship opportunities to encompass additional certification areas in the future.
The primary objective of the “Grow Your Own” initiative is to contribute to the growth of qualified educators within the state and tackle the challenge of teacher shortages. DESE reports that just over 5 percent of its teaching workforce is either not qualified or underqualified for their positions, equivalent to 3,579 full-time employees, as of December 2022. The most in-demand subjects are elementary education, cross-categorical positions, and early childhood special education.
DESE’s data from 2023-2024 shows a significant decrease in courses taught by instructors with “inappropriate certification,” down from 45,509 in the previous year to 13,314 courses, signifying the positive impact of these types of initiatives.
This initiative, fueled by the DEWEY grant, is a testament to ECC’s commitment to creating opportunities for aspiring educators and addressing critical teacher shortages across the state.
For more information about ECC’s Education programs, visit www.eastcentral.edu/education/education/.