NJCU Receives $400,000 Gift to Fund STEM Certificate for K-12 Educators

December 13, 2019
Cohort 7

New Jersey City University (NJCU) will be launching a groundbreaking STEM Certification Program for K-12 Educators. The program is being underwritten by John Martinson, a decorated U.S. Air Force pilot and engineer turned venture capitalist. Martinson is investing more than $400,000 for NJCU to underwrite the development of the program, which will offer K-12 educators an opportunity to experience a blended learning experience with hands-on and online coursework.

The NJCU STEM Certification is unique because it is designed specifically for K-12 educators by the College of Education’s award-winning Educational Technology program. “We are so grateful to John Martinson for his investment and for recognizing that for K-12 STEM programs to be impactful, they must be developed across all disciplines by experienced K-12 teachers, not just driven by math or science departments.” stated Dr. Laura Zieger, the Chairperson of NJCU’s Educational Technology Department. Dr. Zieger developed the grant program in partnership with Alex Urrea, Founder and Managing Partner of Eduscape, a New Jersey-based K-12 professional learning organization. “It is an incredible honor to be partnering with Dr. Zieger and the innovative team at NJCU, an emerging leader in higher education. John Martinson’s staunch belief that building sustainable STEM programs requires a commitment to teacher professional development is so rare in the donor community and his vision should stand as a model for foundations and other investors.” stated Alex Urrea.

The STEM Certification will be a rigorous four-course blended learning program that will provide K-12 educators in all disciplines, school leaders and librarians with both the foundational STEM pedagogy, and the hands-on experience to be successful integrating STEM in their classrooms and schools. The Certificate will be delivered as primarily an online, facilitated program with a required initial two-days of hands-on instruction and submission of a portfolio to evidence learning. The hands-on component will be offered regionally to broaden the reach of the program.

The first course, STEM Foundations, will be developed by Eduscape as an extension of their STEM Made Simple® program, and be delivered in partnership with NJCU. The remaining two-thirds of the certification will consist of three online courses delivered by NJCU faculty in the department of Educational Technology with Quality Matters online course certification supported by NJCU Online. The partnership allows for educators to receive both pragmatic, hands-on experience as well as research-based, theoretical knowledge and skills. Additionally, the partnership leverages local, national and international opportunities for sustainability.

Educators will have the option to complete the Certificate as noncredit through the Division of Professional Education and Lifelong Learning or for graduate credit. Students who opt to register for courses for graduate credit will be offered the opportunity for those classes, 12 credits, to be applied toward a 36-credit Master of Arts degree in Educational Technology or a Master of Arts degree in Educational Technology with School Library Media Specialist certification.

NJCU President Sue Henderson stated, “John Martinson’s tremendous support will help to transform the impact of NJCU’s College of Education along with the pre-K through college STEM education.  The impact will be felt regionally and throughout the state.  We are grateful for his vision and leadership.”

John Martinson noted the following in relation to his generous gift, “I am impressed by NJCU’s innovative online programs to advance STEM teaching skills. The Chairperson of NJCU’s Educational Technology department and Professor Laura Zieger is a dynamic academic leader.”

Why K-12 STEM Education?

The K-12 education market has been trying to properly define and implement STEM programs in various ways with limited successes for the past several years. There is no comprehensive STEM certificate program currently available that provides the necessary foundational skills and aligned hands-on experiences to prepare any teacher to be a STEM educator and successfully implement STEM practices in his/her classroom.

In the STEM certificate program at NJCU, students will engage with activities and readings designed to introduce them to technology integration in STEM as well as the role of computational thinking in STEM. By engaging in hands-on learning activities, students will develop proficiency with several technology tools appropriate for supporting STEM learning and will use those tools as a basis for creating innovative curriculum for use in their classroom. Graduates of the program will become part of a STEM community of practice with like-minded, innovative educators who share knowledge and resources.

Educational Technology at NJCU

The graduate and doctoral degree programs in the Educational Technology department at New Jersey City University are award-winning in the field for their effective teaching, extensive faculty/student collaboration, and practical application to the real world. The program is unique in that it addresses STEAM education and educational technology in higher education, K-12 environments and the private sector.

NJCU has been instrumental in preparing educators, Library Media Specialists and EdTech leaders through its degree programs in education and highly regarded online Doctorate in Educational Technology Leadership. To date, the Educational Technology department alone has over 700 graduates in their Educational Technology graduate programs and 60 doctoral graduates. The many doctoral graduates of the program are now in leadership positions throughout the region and nationally and maintain contact with NJCU.

About Eduscape

Eduscape is the leading professional learning organization in the K-12 market. It is the only privately-held company authorized by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to deliver their groundbreaking Certified Educator Program. The company’s STEM Made Simple program is considered one of the most comprehensive STEM implementation models in the K-12 market; it combines assessment, planning, a rubric for product selection and a rigorous teacher professional development program. Eduscape is also a leading Google for Education training partner and highly regarded Microsoft Global Training Partner in Education.