Increasing the African American STEM Teacher Workforce



Aside from having competitive salaries, can you believe that most math and science teachers on average have higher salaries than most college teaching professors and rate their lives higher than all occupational groups except physicians? Moreover, they’re in global demand and can, literally, work anywhere in the world? Teaching, especially in the areas of mathematics (and/or science) is lit; and it pays. Just ask teachers in Atlanta Public Schools and Clayton County Public Schools.

So, what if I told you that we would pay for your tuition, fees and (wait for it) pay you a regular stipend (and salary supplement) to be trained as a secondary school math educator in 13 months? Would you be interested? 

As part of the School of Education’s longstanding and continued pursuit of excellence in STEM teacher education, we have received National Science Foundation (NSF) funding from their Robert Noyce Teacher Fellowship Scholarship Program to recruit, prepare and retain math teachers for our partner district and partner school: Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS) and Genesis Innovation Academy (GIA), respectively. The project is called Increasing the African American STEM Teacher Workforce with Community Coaching, Mentoring and Wellbeing Support. Those selected for this opportunity will be called Teaching Fellows and will begin their 13-month preparation experience in June.


To qualify for consideration prospective applicants must meet at least one of the following criterions:
  • Have graduated with a degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) from a regionally-accredited institution with a minimum cumulative G.P.A of 2.70 or
  • Must have successfully passed Calculus I & II

Additionally, prospective applicants must provide official transcripts from the regionally-accredited institutions they have attended. Those transcripts must be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions ( from the institution’s Office of the Registrar.


  • The program is highly competitive and rigorous. All parties interested in applying should do so immediately at the Graduate Admissions website:
  • The application will be reviewed; and if the applicant successfully meets the minimal requirements, he/she/they will be contacted for an interview.
  • Applicants will be notified within two (2) weeks of the interview of the decision.
  • If accepted into the program applicants will be expected to sign an agreement indicating that he/she/they agree to the four (4) year teaching commitment upon completion of the degree or return the funds invested that supported their training.


This project will be facilitated through completion of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Mathematics degree program. It is a highly rigorous 13-month hybrid online experience that begins in June.

  • Acceptance into the degree program (which includes signing a four-year teaching service agreement that if breached requires repayment of the investment made by NSF in the form of stipends and salary supplements). Note: That means those accepted will commit to a four-year teaching service agreement following completion of the MAT-Math degree.
  • Passing of the GACE Mathematics and Ethics exams
  • Hired by the school district partners; and
  • Successful completion of the MAT-Math curriculum sequence


  • Tuition and fees for the entire 13-month degree program experience will be covered by the scholarship. Additionally, Teaching Fellows may receive up to $3000 quarterly for the duration of the 13 month experience.
  • Upon completion of the degree program and successful acquisition of licensure, the Teaching Fellow will receive an annual salary supplement on top of their teaching salary equal to or more than $12,000.


  • Full-time teaching (as the teacher of record) in the classroom starting in August in an assigned school while attending classes at CAU in the MAT Mathematics degree program
  • Teaching Fellows will have a four (4) year service commitment to teach in their assigned school after completion of the MAT-Math degree program
  • If Teaching Fellows end their teaching commitment before the specified time, they will be required to pay back the prorated amount to CAU




Dr. Valerie Bennett is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction where in addition to teaching serves as the MAT Math Coordinator. She has consulted in Malaysia and nationally as well as led schools to exceed state standards. Her areas of research and expertise reside in K12 STEM teacher preservice and inservice preparation; particularly related to curricular development, data-driven instruction, and culturally relevant pedagogy. Dr. Bennett’s current research examines the effectiveness of the use of Adaptive Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Math gateway STEM courses for underserved students at HBCUs. Dr. Bennett has two (2) doctoral degrees: one (1) from Georgia Tech in Mechanical Engineering and one (1) from Clark Atlanta University in Higher Educational Leadership. She also acquired a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Mechanical Engineering.



Dr. Tonya Clarke has served as the Mathematics Coordinator for Clayton County Public Schools for the past eight years. She has 25 years of experience in K-12 education, previously serving as high school mathematics teacher, Department Chair, Coach, and Teacher Development Specialist for an alternative certification program. Dr. Clarke holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Georgia State University, a master’s degree in Program Management and Innovation from Western Governors University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University. Dr. Clarke's passion for empowering others to use mathematics to disrupt societal norms drives her to make math matter for every student, everywhere, every day.



Experienced educator with a successful background in elementary, middle, high school and higher ed education. Possesses excellent leadership skills and motivator of children, with a focus on implementation of effective instructional strategies, improving student achievement and standardized test scores, and transformational leadership. Extensive background in counseling, motivating and mentoring at-risk and underserved student populations. Effective grant, policy and procedure writer.



Sean Warner is the principal investigator on the project. He has been in educator preparation for almost thirty (30) years serving as a faculty member, department chair, and dean in several institutions of higher learning. He received his bachelor’s degree in business management and administration from City College of New York in 1993 and his master’s and doctoral degrees in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1994 and 1998, respectively. He has expertise in P20 accreditation, program redesign, educator preparation, culturally responsive teaching and leadership, higher education administrative policy, faculty development and stakeholder engagement.



Dr. Joiet Wesley is the owner and lead therapist of Mental Matters with a Sparkle of Joy, a private counseling practice offering a holistic approach to therapy. Joiet is passionate about education and is a lifelong learner. In 2003, she graduated from Paine College with a BS in Biology and a few years later earned a Master of Public Health with emphasis on Community Health from Mercer University in 2006. Furthermore, in 2015 Joiet graduated from Clark Atlanta University's Community Counseling Program with a 4.0. She is currently a doctoral student at Clark Atlanta University, where she hopes to complete her degree in the fall of 2023.



Dr. Willis has published, presented, and conducted research on the roles of culture and language in African American students’ learning, cognitive development, and educational programming and effective schooling that promotes their success, has served in many capacities over the more than 40 years of her career in education. She has been a classroom mathematics teacher, school counselor, school psychologist, college professor, teacher educator, school co-founder and administrator, school district coordinator, program evaluator and educational consultant. Having conducted countless PD workshops and seminars on culturally relevant pedagogy, Willis is an expert on teaching mathematics for understanding particularly in multicultural settings. Dr. Willis earned her A.B. with Honors in Psychology from Brown University, M.S.Ed. in Psychological Services in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Georgia State University under the direction of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III.  She also completed graduate work at Temple University leading to School Psychology certification and at North Carolina State University in Educational Leadership.   



Dr. Hui Wu is an applied mathematician. She was born in China and joined Clark Atlanta University in 2013. She is an associate professor of mathematics at CAU. Her research work includes mathematics modeling, numerical simulations, and mathematical biology.


If you or someone you know would be interested in this opportunity, please attend or invite them to attend one of the November Interest Meeting Sessions by clicking here, or fill out the attached form and someone will respond to your query within 48 – 72 hours of submission and schedule a 15 - 30 minute information session.


For More Details Click Below


CAU and many HBCUs have historically been challenged in attracting, retaining and graduating students in a sustainable way for their MAT Mathematics degree program. Since 2018 the institution has only graduated seven (7) students. In fact, they had no graduates at all 2014 – 2017. Furthermore, the total number of graduates over a ten-year period (2010 and 2020) totaled twenty (20). So, this project would have an immediate impact on the number of African American (or BIPOC) mathematics teachers produced. The actual name of the project as far as NSF is concerned is called Increasing the African American STEM Teacher Workforce with Community Coaching, Mentoring and Wellbeing Support. The project was designed to elevate the presence of math (and STEM) teachers of color in high needs schools and school districts; and so, given the needs of its partners the Clark Atlanta University (CAU) School of Education (SoE) pursued the opportunity in collaboration with its partners to acquire funding to help increase the number of math teachers of color in this region of the state.



In addition to teaching and taking courses in the MAT Math program the Teaching Fellows will engage in leadership and enrichment activities with students and their families as well as with their colleagues and community members to elevate their skill, knowledge base and value set in secondary mathematics. Some of those activities include teaching and working with students in the CCPS Summer Mathematics Camp; conducting a research project under addressing a critical need or classroom problem of practice; and working under the guidance and support of the school leader on a community-based project that informs their teaching practice in secondary mathematics.


As a research-based approach undergirded by the seminal work of Geneva Gay, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Zaretta Hammond, Django Paris and others, culturally responsive teaching is the ideological cornerstone that grounds the project. Cultural responsiveness will be centered around every learning, teaching, coaching and mentoring experience. As such, Teaching Fellows will learn how to create classrooms that embrace and honor cultural and linguistic diversity in a way that leverages community assets to support learning, growth, and the development of a healthy sense of self and belonging. 



The design of this teacher training experience is particularly robust and rigorous; and as such certain supports to preemptively counteract the potential stress that often comes with first-year teaching. Because Teaching Fellows, in this case, are not only asked to teach full-time, but also attend school as a full-time student the likelihood of encountering stressful moments is high. Therefore, the project has built in a wellness component as another layer of support for the Teaching Fellows. 


In addition to the CCPS and GIA, the Atlanta Algebra Project, and Young People’s Project (APYPP) and the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) have agreed to provide support to the project in several ways. In particular, the Atlanta APYPP will deploy their Math Literacy Workers to collaborate and work with the Teaching Fellows during the summer camp experiences and possibly during the school year on planning and implementation strategies for their classrooms.

To apply, click here and select the Partially Online MAT-Math Program

Cir_NOYCE-CAU-logo.png LinkedIn_logo_initials.png  kisspng-logo-clip-art-icone-instagram-facebook-5b5ed34843d034.1234545515329411282778.jpg




National Science Foundation (NSF)
Where Discoveries Begin
Award #: 2151043