Noyce Scholars: Creating Pathway for Future STEM Educators

College Seeks STEM Professionals for Teacher Certification

Calling all math and science enthusiasts! Are you looking for a way to give back to your community? Have you ever thought about teaching? If you answered yes to these questions, and have experience as a STEM professional, Rio Salado College’s Noyce Scholars program wants you!

In 2011 Rio Salado College received a 1.2 million dollar grant through the National Science Foundation to provide secondary 7th – 12th grade Arizona Teaching Certificates to approved applicants who have at least a bachelor’s degree and industry experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

“Rio Salado received the grant to help combat the shortage of qualified STEM teachers in the state of Arizona and to raise up the next generation of scientists and mathematicians,” said Karen Nave, Noyce Scholars Program Manager.

Participants receive a $16,500 stipend for the 15-month intensive, online program. Upon completion, successful participants will earn a teaching credential and must commit to teaching for two years in a high-need Arizona school district. The program is currently partnered with 22 high-need school districts in Arizona.

RSC Noyce Scholars Matthew Ford and Alma Parker
Photo: Rio Salado College

“When my life changed quite recently, I reevaluated what I was doing and where I was going,” said Alma Parker, a retired Honeywell senior quality engineer who participated in the first Noyce Scholars cohort. “I decided to use my expertise as an engineer and a scientist to give back to the community and to become a teacher.”

Parker is working as a substitute teacher this semester and is looking for a math teaching position this fall.

Current Noyce Scholars participant Matthew Ford spent time as a fisheries biologist in the Peace Corps and with the Alaska Department of Game and Fish before deciding to transition into teaching.

“Teaching is doing something for the future,” Ford said. “I hope to bring a realization that biology can be fun and exciting to the classroom.”

Ford, who is a Prescott, Arizona resident, was enticed by the program’s online model and flexibility to stay in his community to complete the in-person field experience and student teaching requirements of the program.
To participate in the Noyce Scholars program, students must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have acceptable results of a fingerprint background check in accordance with Arizona Department of Education
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a STEM area
  • Have three or more years of experience in a non-education STEM career

Qualified students must complete an application process that includes passing a subject knowledge exam, participating in a teaching seminar and attending a screening interview.

“Students will also have to show an aptitude for teaching,” Nave said. “Knowing your subject area well is only one component of successful teaching. A good teacher is also someone who has keen listening skills, is an effective communicator, and can motivate and connect with their students.”

Nave said students in the Noyce Scholars program receive mentorship throughout their student teaching experience, as well as assistance with job placement.

“Students are supported throughout the program with their coursework by a success coach and two mentors during the first year of teaching to assist with classroom management and other first-year teacher challenges,” Nave said.

For more information about Rio Salado’s Noyce Scholars program, visit or call 480-517-8066.

Posted in AZBio News.