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School of Education awarded $5 million to participate in Virginia STEM initiative

The William & Mary School of Education has been awarded $5 million as part of a larger U.S. Department of Education grant to improve science and math education in Virginia schools.

The entire grant—totaling $34 million ($28.5 million and a required 20 percent private-sector match)—will fund the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching Achievement (VISTA), a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative headed up by George Mason University. The grant was received through the Investing in Innovation (i3) program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A total of 49 i3 projects were recommended for funding, and VISTA is the only one in Virginia.

“This is very good news for both the College and the Commonwealth,” said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. “Science education matters to the success of K-12 students. Thanks to this award, William & Mary’s School of Education will play an even larger role in ensuring that Virginia’s young students get a solid scientific foundation on which they can build for a lifetime.”

VISTA programs will take place on the campuses of the three main partner universities for the project: William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University. Three other universities are also serving as partners on the project: University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and James Madison University.

 The award includes three major aspects. William & Mary is heavily involved in the first two, which are training for elementary teachers including summer science camps for elementary students and training for secondary, provisionally licensed science teachers. The third area is school district science supervision.

Juanita Jo Matkins, VISTA project manager for William & Mary, said that the scope and potential impact of the VISTA grant is “really inspiring.”

“At the end of five years, what we might see is a changed atmosphere for science education in Virginia,” she said.i