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Nine RSSS Teachers Begin New M.Ed. STEM Program at Catawba for Free, Thanks to Philanthropist

January 13, 2016

Category: Academics, Alumni, Evening & Graduate, Gifts

stemmed15.jpgCatawba College welcomed nine Rowan-Salisbury School System teachers into its new Master of Education program in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), a new graduate program that began on January 12. Members of this inaugural cohort of students received full-tuition scholarships to pursue their graduate degrees thanks to a generous $300,000 gift from local philanthropist Fred Stanback.

The collaborative program between Catawba College and the Rowan-Salisbury School System (RSSS) was announced last January and designed to target local middle and high school mathematics and science teachers. Those teachers in the inaugural cohort include seven from middle schools, one from a high school, one from Early College, five math and four science teachers.

These students, who are expected to complete their M.Ed. STEM coursework during fall of 2017, include Jeniffer Bain, a math teacher from Early College; Jennifer Barbee, a science teacher from Corriher-Lipe Middle School; Jenna Bernard, a science teacher from Southeast Middle School; Crystal Brown, a math teacher from Knox Middle School; Cindy Miller, a math teacher from Corriher-Lipe Middle School; Angela Peterson, a math teacher from Erwin Middle School; Cristin Ritchie, a science teacher from Southeast Middle School; Aliyah Sloop, a science teacher from South Rowan High School; and Jamesha Thomas, a math teacher from Knox Middle School. Three in the cohort, Ritchie, Sloop, and Thomas, are Catawba alumnae.

One of the first courses that these teachers will take in the program is entitled School Curriculum and is taught by Knox Middle School co-principals, Drs. Latoya Dixon and Michael Waiksnis. Teachers will also take a course entitled Research Methods for the Classroom Teacher, which is taught by Dr. Karen Lucas, a member of the teacher education faculty at Catawba.

When the program was announced, Catawba President Brien Lewis speculated it could be "a carrot" that the local school system could offer in its efforts to recruit new teachers. Experienced local math and science teachers have been hit hard by North Carolina's elimination of a salary incentive for teachers holding master's degrees. The new program and its scholarship funding offer an opportunity for RSSS teachers to earn an advanced degree without having to bear the financial consequences with no financial incentive.

RSSS Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody explained that offering a free graduate degree program provides a "win-win'' for teachers, the district, Catawba, and above all, the students in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

stemmed15b.jpgThis 33-semester-hour curriculum is a two-year cohort program that involves two-courses per semester, including summer. Taught by a strong faculty who are committed to the professional development of middle and high school science and math teachers, the program offers opportunities for individualized study and practical applications in the teacher's classroom.

Some Rowan-Salisbury School System (RSSS) teachers will be selected as full-tuition scholarship recipients, and teachers in other districts are also welcomed into the program without the full-tuition scholarship component. The tuition for non-RSSS teachers is currently $180 per semester hour, plus a $25 per semester parking fee.

Applicants for the program must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education with a grade point average of 3.0 or greater. Applicants must have passing PRAXIS/NTE scores and/or North Carolina licensure in math or science, but have no need to produce GRE or Miller Analogies scores.

The graduate catalog and application is available online at For more information contact Dr. Rhonda Truitt, director of the graduate program and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Catawba, at (704) 637-4468 or at  or Mrs. Jane Snider, assistant to the Department of Teacher Education at Catawba at (704) 637-4461 or at RSSS teachers may contact Dr. Julie Morrow at