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Josh Smith
January 31, 2022

Berry’s STEMTeach Program Lays Groundwork for Future Math Teacher

Josh Smith ’22 is well on his way to becoming a thoroughly prepared and engaging high school math teacher thanks to his work at Berry in the secondary education department and the STEMTeach program. Through these opportunities, Josh has logged over 200 hours of field experience in the classroom in his junior and senior years and over 30 hours of teaching time in his first semester of student teaching.

Before Berry, Josh anticipated being a dual-degree engineering major, but a week before classes began, he had a change of heart and decided that math and secondary education were a better choice. He got involved with STEMTeach, a program that encourages students interested in math, physics, biology, biochemistry or chemistry to explore teaching. Students who participate may be eligible for $12,000–$15,000 from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship funded by the National Science Foundation.

“One of the benefits of the Noyce Scholarship is the funds that go toward your education in your junior and senior years as well as funding a mandatory Maymester [May mini-term] teaching course,” Josh says.

With the Noyce Scholarship, Josh has been able to participate in the STEMTeach program under the mentorship of Joan Blackwelder, the STEMTeach coordinator. “Through STEMTeach and the Noyce Scholarship, we were able to give Josh the time to devote to his classes and work toward becoming the teacher he wants to be when he graduates,” Blackwelder explains. “The impact of Berry’s STEMTeach Program is paid forward through the education of high school students by outstanding Berry grads like Josh Smith.”

STEMTeach makes Berry students highly competitive in the job market by putting them through demanding challenges like four hours of classroom observations each month as well as participation in two mentor days each semester with a master teacher plus volunteer hours. With STEM-savvy student teachers working alongside master teachers in local classrooms, students are benefiting tremendously.

“The STEMTeach program has allowed me to create a very strong bond with the students and staff that are connected to the program,” Josh says. “I have learned mathematical ideas that I can implement in the classroom that are applicable to real life.”

Associate Professor of Mathematics Jill Cochran is quick to praise Josh for his efforts as a math student: “Having taught Josh during both his first and last years at Berry, I have seen tremendous growth in his passion for mathematics, his impact as a teacher and his confidence in himself. He knows how to help his students see difficult mathematical concepts, and I am certain that he will become a very inspirational teacher.”

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