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Winthrop and Clinton Pair with Local School Districts on STEM Training

April 30, 2024

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University, Clinton College and three local school districts will partner on a $1.4 million scholarship program to bolster the training of area STEM educators and interns through 2029.

Funds for the program, titled Working to Improve STEM Educator Recruitment and Retention through Relationships (to be known as WISER3), will come from the Division of Undergraduate Education in the National Science Foundation. This is the third round of NSF funding for Winthrop for this particular program which builds on prior/current Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program grants.

The three local school districts partnering on the grant are Chester County, York District 1 and Rock Hill.

Winthrop President Edward Serna ’02 said he is glad to see that Winthrop is able to partner with the school districts, as well as Clinton College, on teacher recruitment. He said the grant is one of the first opportunities for the two institutions to address the need for more STEM educators by providing education majors with high-quality preparation and with support in order to increase teacher retention rates.

“We are proud to work with our neighbors at Clinton College and area school districts to do our part in attracting STEM majors to teaching careers. We know this has been a challenge because of low teacher retention rates, but, together, our two institutions can make a big difference in how science, technology and math are taught in our community. We are ready to get to work in order to get more of our STEM majors into the field of teaching.”

Clinton College President Lester McCorn said his college is excited to partner with Winthrop on this innovative grant. “One of our strategic goals is to increase the number of minority teachers in public education, returning to one of the historic missions of Clinton College in its founding in 1894,” he said. “This is a major milestone for the city of Rock Hill, to have these two historic institutions working together to address the need for qualified, diverse, capable teachers in science, technology, and math. I am thrilled to work with our friends President Serna and Dean (Beth) Costner in advancing citywide collaboration for a common cause. We look forward to amazing outcomes for the future of our city and region.”

Across the five-year funding period, WISER3 will produce at least 28 new STEM educators through scholarships for high-achieving students to obtain teacher certification at Winthrop through a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, according to Associate Professor Kelly M. Costner, a member of the Winthrop grant team.

At least six will be recruited from the biology majors at Clinton College, while the remaining 22 will be Winthrop students with majors in biology, chemistry or mathematics. The project has the potential to contribute additional research insights through paired placements in field and clinical experiences and through mentoring.

Scholarships of at least $20,000 will support the STEM majors as they pursue teacher certification. Part of Winthrop’s plan involves the Richard W. Riley College of Education, Sport and Human Sciences working with the College of Arts and Sciences to increase participation in the university’s STEM education programs. The students will be mentored in the participating school districts during their college preparation and once they begin teaching. Costner foresees community-building components through regular professional development and social events.

The NSF program, the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (Noyce) has three components. It tracks at the national level the support given to talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers. It works to ensure that experienced, exemplary K-12 teachers become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. And finally, it supports research on the effectiveness and retention of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts.

Working along with Costner on the Winthrop grant leadership are faculty members Cassie Bell, Department of Biology; Jessie Hamm, Department of Mathematics; and Lisa Johnson, College of Education, Sport and Human Sciences.

For more information, contact Rae’L Smith, news and media services manager, at or at 803-374-9424.