headshot of Willy Hunter
William Hunter

Illinois State University’s Willy Hunter is leading a multi-state team that received a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to assist mathematics and science teachers in high-needs schools.   

The grant will pay for three years of summer professional development of teachers, including funding the annual Midwest Regional Robert Noyce Conference with 750 attendees.    

“There is a critical need for highly effective K-12 STEM teachers in those districts where students are underserved,” said Hunter, a professor in the Department of Chemistry who works with Rebekka Darner of the University’s Center for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (CeMaST). “This grant will enhance the development of learning communities among STEM teachers and encourage the sharing of culturally relevant practices.”   

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Collaborating with universities in Missouri, Kansas, and southern Illinois, Hunter and members of Illinois State’s CeMaST will spearhead professional development for the NSF’s regional Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. The program encourages talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers. “Projects funded by the Noyce Program need to share not only programmatic results, but also individual lessons and ideas,” said Hunter, and we provide several conferences, workshops, and webinars to facilitate that sharing. 

Key to the grant is the planning and coordination of the Midwest Regional Robert Noyce Conference, which brings together Noyce scholars, Fellows, principal investigators, and alumni from 90 regional programs to develop and share lessons for high-needs schools and districts. “Increasing the personal and professional connections among Midwest Noyce project members and Noyce Scholars will benefit students in classrooms across the region,” said Hunter.   

The grant is supported by the NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education.