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WSSU awarded a $1.8 million grant to empower the next generation of Black STEM teachers

STEM careers generate more than two trillion dollars in revenue, support 67 percent of jobs in the United States, and Winston-Salem State University is leading the charge to prepare the next generation of STEM leaders.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded WSSU $1.8 million to facilitate the Next Generation Black STEM Teachers program. The project is a consortium of five Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Its goal is to increase the number of highly-trained Black STEM teachers in rural and urban school districts.

Doctors Denise Johnson and Kim Pemberton say the news was a bit of a Christmas present. “We found out in December during winter break,” Dr. Johnson said. She is an Associate Professor of Education and is one of the leaders of the Next Generation Black STEM Teachers Program. Together, with professors from the associate institutions, Dr. Johnson Dr. Pemberton, and their colleagues are creating a curriculum and plan to recruit future educators. They say this will address the needs that school districts are facing across the country.

Black Male Teacher with student
WSSU is a lead institution in the Black STEM Teachers program.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, North Carolina has experienced a shortage of STEM teachers since it first started keeping records in the 1990-1991 school year. Dr. Johnson says the program is especially important now, not just to meet the demand for educators but for those educators to reflect the diversity in the school population. “One of the ways to generate interest in a subject is for a student to be able to see themselves in that career path, and one way to do that is for a student to see someone who looks like themselves when they’re being taught,” Dr. Johnson said.

By combining resources with the other HBCUs, the program is not only stronger but can maximize its reach into communities across the country. “We have been in the education business for years. The fact that we’re poised to continue that work, it’s a wonderful thing,” Dr. Johnson said. WSSU is the lead institution in the project. This summer, it will plan and facilitate several learning opportunities for its partner institutions to participate.

The Next Generation Black STEM Teachers program will support 50 pre-service Black teachers. Students with a cumulative GPA of 2.7, who have earned at least 25 credit hours and no more than 90 hours at the university are eligible to apply here.

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