This project brings together STEM and STEM education faculty, teachers and administrators from rural districts, and others committed to improving STEM education to develop a partnership to build capacity in Maine to attract, prepare, and support STEM teachers and teacher leaders in high-need rural districts. This partnership fosters a networked improvement community to develop and disseminate exemplary STEM teaching methods courses, preparing both pre-service and in-service teachers to begin the transformation process called for in the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. After conducting a needs assessment of high-need districts, the partnership is using this information to design recruitment strategies, innovative, collaborative field experiences and other professional development to support ongoing professional growth of STEM teachers and teacher leaders, with Master Teaching Fellows earning a Graduate Certificate. These teachers are positioned to have a significant, long term impact on their students and their communities. As information is collected and capacity is built, partnership members are obtaining cost share commitments and agreements for Fellow placements, develop a research and evaluation plan, providing the basis for an NSF Teaching Fellowships and Master Teaching Fellowships proposal. The partnership for this initiative includes researchers with expertise in STEM teaching and learning, veteran teachers, and curriculum directors, each of whom brings different knowledge to the community. The course and curriculum development is informed by discipline-based education research, including studies related to challenges of implementing the practices. Each element of professional development is assessed, with the results used to guide improvements. The project's networked improvement community is providing insights into the use of this strategy for ongoing educational improvement in rural areas. Courses developed through this project are disseminated broadly, so others benefit from the products of this community.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Keith Sverdrup
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University of Maine
United States
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