CONTACT:  Nicole Smith, Public Relations Manager
Concord University Office of Advancement
PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712
(304) 384-6312



ATHENS, WV – Concord University has been awarded a Continuing Grant under Track 2 of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program in the amount of $2,317,725 by the National Science Foundation. The funds have been granted for a program titled Utilizing Wrap Around Mentorship and Virtual Reality to Prepare and Sustain STEM Teachers in Rural High-need Schools. The purpose of the project is to increase the number of highly qualified, culturally competent STEM teachers in rural Appalachian secondary schools.

The funds will be used to recruit 16 STEM professionals as Teaching Fellows, retain Teaching Fellows in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, incorporate the use of Virtual Reality technology in the classroom, and use a combination of institutional software to track Teaching Fellow activities.

“Now more than ever, it is essential that we are investing in West Virginia’s schools in order for our students to succeed inside and outside the classroom,” said Senator Manchin, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I am pleased the National Science Foundation understands this importance and is giving our teachers the tools they need to successfully teach STEM in rural schools. I look forward to seeing the benefits this funding brings, and I will continue to advocate for research and educational opportunities here in the Mountain State.”
Comprehensive wrap around mentorship, including virtual coaching, and using low-cost virtual reality technology in the training of new teachers and for use in differentiated learning will prepare fellows to teach in high-need rural schools. Partnerships with local school districts will be strengthened, while a partnership with the West Virginia Science Teachers Association will benefit Concord and Teaching Fellows beyond the grant period. Approximately 600 students per year will be taught by Teaching Fellows of this program, a considerable impact for a rural area, with long-term positive implications for employment and the economy in West Virginia. This project will serve as a model for other institutions serving rural schools, provide a framework that harnesses technology to overcome barriers that affect teaching and learning at all levels.

Individuals who have degrees in STEM fields (Math, Science, Chemistry, Biology) are eligible to apply to be a Fellow in the MAT program at Concord University. Fellows will compete 12 months of course work, earn a West Virginia Professional Teaching license, and teach a minimum of five years in a high-need school. Fellows will receive a $15,000 stipend annually for the first five years they teach in a high-need school. Applications for fellows will be accepted for the 24-25 and 25-26 academic years.

Concord’s MAT program is a completely online program that provides the professional education courses and clinical experiences, including student teaching, necessary to prepare individuals for teaching in a specific content area in grades PreK-Adult, 5-Adult, or 9-Adult.

Tracey O’Donnell graduated from Concord in 2018 with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. She began teaching at Montcalm High School in 2017, and is still there today. She teaches Biology, Advanced Biology, Honors Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry, and Forensic Science to grades 7-12. Tracey says of her studies at Concord, “The program taught me to understand relationship building with students. Instruction is not only about student understanding, but also student interest. This concept has made me successful in my classrooms. Everything I learned there was very student driven. It’s important for educators to put students first, and I don’t think there’s any better place to learn that than at Concord.” Tracey also noted a benefit of the program is that students can still work while earning their degree, giving them access to go straight into the classroom.

Dr. Andrea Campbell, Concord’s Department of Education Chair and Director of Teacher Education, was instrumental in applying for this grant. “We are beyond excited to get this program started with our first fellows beginning in August. While all teachers and individuals enrolled in programs to become teachers deserve financial support and incentives, this grant makes financial bonuses available to individuals with STEM content degrees to teach in those STEM areas. These areas tend to be difficult for school districts to hire.”

For more information, please contact Dr. Campbell at 304-384-5362 or


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The bell tower at Concord University