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King’s Awarded $1.45 Million Grant to Address Math and Science Teacher Shortage in Underserved Communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania

The National Science Foundation (NSF) just awarded King’s College $1.45 million to operate a new recruitment, training, and mentorship program that will bring more K-12 math and science teachers to underserved communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The program—named Preparing and Retaining Inclusive and Mentored Educators in STEM (PRIMES)—is supported by NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship, which funds innovative efforts that address the national shortage of elementary and secondary STEM teachers.

PRIMES will target high-need areas like the Hazleton Area School District, which needs more STEM teachers and serves a large population of minority and economically disadvantaged students. 

King’s College is partnering with Hazleton Area School District, Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences, Luzerne County Community College (LCCC), and Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 (LIU-18) to recruit a minimum of 20 STEM educators over a five-year period. Applicants will include current King’s College students, high school students interested in STEM teaching, LCCC graduates, and professionals employed by LIU-18 and its servicing districts.

The grant covers two years of tuition, fees, books, and other costs for program participants. PRIMES prioritizes the recruitment of diverse candidates and includes annual salary stipends upon successful employment.

The award was secured by a team of the College's education, chemistry, and mathematics faculty, including Dr. Elise Heiss, Dr. Karen McCready, Dr. Andrew Wojcik, and Dr. Dara Soljaga, associate dean of education, as well as Michelle Giovagnoli, director of institutional and academic grants. This is the largest faculty-initiated grant in the College’s history.

“This project empowers candidates with training in both STEM content expertise and culturally responsive practices, as well as ongoing financial grant support and mentorship from our extensive network of local partners,” said Dr. Soljaga. “I am so proud of the concerted efforts of our team and look forward to supporting high-need schools in our community with STEM graduates who champion the inherent dignity of every person in their classrooms.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to make a profound and lasting impact on both a new generation of NEPA educators and the diverse communities they serve,” said Rev. Thomas P. Looney, C.S.C., Ph.D., president of King’s College. “We’re grateful for this support from NSF and all those who worked diligently to secure the funding.”

PRIMES expands the Education Department's efforts to make STEM education more accessible. In April 2024, more than 60 grade school students came to campus for a series of fun workshops developed by the first 20 local educators to complete the College's STEM endorsement program. Those candidates had their tuition, laptops, and STEM instructional materials covered by a $295,000 PAsmart grant. The College also sponsors the “Kids at King’s” initiative, which brings local grade school students to campus each spring for a series of STEM learning modules run by undergraduate teaching students.

Local students and teachers interested in the PRIMES program are encouraged to contact Michelle Landon, director of undergraduate admissions, at michellelandon@kings.edu. For a list of related offerings, visit .

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