Since the Noyce Scholarship became available to College of Education students in 2019, 10 students have achieved their academic and career dreams, thanks to receiving a total of $182,000 in Noyce Scholarship support.
The goal of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program is to increase the number of educators with strong STEM knowledge in high-needs schools. In exchange for the financial support, scholarship recipients are committed to working the first two years after graduation in high-needs schools.
Caleb Potts is a December 2022 graduate from the College of Education’s math education program and a member of the inaugural 2020-21 Noyce cohort. He currently teaches algebra and geometry at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman, Iowa.
Potts grew up in Mount Pleasant, Iowa where he attended a high-needs high school. As a student, he says he benefited from great math teachers.
“I'm just really happy to be filling a role like this, that some of my previous teachers did for me,” Potts says. “It kind of feels like a way of giving back, even though it might not be to the same community I grew up in, it still feels like I'm still giving and contributing to a community just like it.”
– Caleb Potts, Mid-Prairie High School teacher
As someone just starting out in his career, Potts says the financial support from the Noyce scholarship was deeply appreciated.
“They really help students out with their tuition and going into a career where it's not unknown that we don't make too much money right off the bat,” he says. “It just takes a lot of that stress off of my back.”
Potts says he is happy to be in the field and applying his studies from his time at the College of Education.
“My time here as a teacher is probably the first time in my life that going to work doesn’t feel like I'm going to work,” he says.
Another Noyce scholarship recipient, Brooke Hitchcock, says in addition to financial support, the scholarship connected her to mentors and other Noyce scholars with the same goals. Hitchcock, originally from Taylor Ridge Illinois, graduated in May 2023 from the College of Education’s Mathematics Education Program. She currently teaches middle and high school math at Highland Secondary School, in Riverside, Iowa.
“Overall, the program was amazing because obviously scholarship money is awesome, but it's also nice to have that connection and having that safe space in that community where you can always go to Noyce scholars for questions,” she says.
Hitchcock says her 2021-2022 cohort of Noyce scholars have stayed in contact since graduating and shared resources, grading procedures, and ideas for the first day of school.
“It feels amazing that I am not only teaching the youth, but I’m helping these kids that especially need that help in these districts. It really solidifies that I picked the right profession,” Hitchcock says.
– Brooke Hitchcock, Highland Secondary School teacher
Hitchcock discovered the scholarship at a meeting with faculty where clinical professor Ted Neal encouraged her to apply because of her grades. She says professor Danny Hong was helpful throughout the application process and set up a mentorship program for the scholars.
“I want to make sure that everyone looks into the Noyce scholarship if it applies to them, because I needed that extra push,” Hitchcock says. “It’s just an amazing opportunity that I don't want people to miss out on.”