STEM teacher shortage in rural SD areas addressed with 75k grant

Updated: Apr. 1, 2023 at 1:35 PM CDT
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SPEARFISH, S.D. (KOTA) - Black Hills State University has been awarded a $75,000 grant by the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program to address the STEM teacher shortage in rural South Dakota.

The grant will fund the project “Building Capacity to Address STEM Educator Shortages in Rural South Dakota,” led by Dr. Ben Sayler, professor at BHSU and director of South Dakota’s Center for the Advancement of Math and Science Education. The project’s researchers will look into what motivates students, particularly those from low-income and rural backgrounds, to teach STEM subjects and work to strengthen their relationships with high-need rural and tribal schools in the region. BHSU will likewise cooperate with the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s Education & Outreach team.

“This is a great opportunity for BHSU with excellent potential for partnering with South Dakota school districts and supporting them in providing exemplary science and math instruction,” said Sayler.

The project’s planning, which includes surveying and interviewing rural school and district administrators, recent BHSU graduates, K-12 and university students, and personnel from other Noyce-funded STEM educator preparation programs, will be financed by this initial grant.

The project team will gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by small, rural schools when it comes to attracting, retaining, and supporting STEM educators, particularly early-career teachers from backgrounds similar to those of their students.

“Through this planning grant, BHSU will develop a proposal to provide more STEM teachers for Western South Dakota,” said BHSU President Laurie S. Nichols. “This fits beautifully with our mission of producing quality teachers for the region, and we look forward to developing a strong recruitment plan to combat the STEM teacher shortage in South Dakota.”

For more information about this project, please contact Dr. Ben Sayler at