Teaching Fellows Graduate from SF State

Maya Cook

Norma Hernandez

Courtesy of SFSU Communications A year after the launch of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at SF State, its first set of graduates say the program has prepared them to be more informed, compassionate and powerful educators. The Noyce program provides financial support, special seminars on science and math teaching and learning, and hands-on opportunities in research and teaching for those who receive the scholarship. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the program is open to undergraduates with science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) majors, as well as STEM graduates enrolled in the University’s teaching credential program. The students’ experiences in the program equip them to teach at some of California’s high-poverty, urban schools where a shortage of STEM educators is expected within the next decade. The 12 graduating Noyce Scholars are “teacher-inquirers” who conduct research within a classroom and bring their findings to bear in their teaching practices. “I am incredibly proud of all our current and graduated Noyce Scholars,” said Larry Horvath, assistant professor of secondary education and principal investigator on the Noyce grant to SF State. “Their commitment to provide high quality math or science instruction for all students is inspirational and a valuable asset for our local school districts.” The graduates include Maya Cook, a math major with an emphasis in teaching, who plans to enroll in SF State’s teaching credential program. “I come from a close, big family where I was influenced to be passionate about education, cultural heritage and social justice,” she said. “My ability to teach might come from my family but my desire definitely comes from the youth I’ve had the privilege of learning from.” Cook conducted her Noyce research at June Jordan School for Equity, observing an algebra class to learn more about what high school students need to succeed in math class. The answers, she said, sometimes went beyond the classroom. One of her students, who had trouble with the materials, began to ask Cook personal questions about her family and upbringing. “When I told her my son has autism, she told me that her younger brother had speech problems as well, as a child,” she said. “This experience taught me that students want to know a teacher’s heart. She wanted to know who I was and why I was really there.” “The improvement I saw from spending a few minutes talking blew me away,” Cook said. “I hope to be able to find a respectful connection with every single one of my future students.” Another of the graduates is Norma Hernandez, who discovered she wanted to be a math teacher after realizing in college “that I enjoyed doing my math homework a lot more than anything else and was willing to help out my fellow classmates with their math homework.” Hernandez graduates this spring from SF State’s teaching credential program after attending the University as an undergraduate. The single mother is now a student teacher at Philip & Sala Burton Academic High School for 9th grade geometry and pre-calculus. “Many of the students that I serve come from diverse cultural backgrounds and from a mixed socio economic status,” Hernandez said. “They all require different needs and as a teacher I have to make the material more interactive for those special needs. I have found that staying conscious of how students are learning has enabled me to diversify my teaching style.”
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