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Multimillion dollar investment by Hibernia to support Faculty of Education

Paul Phelan, chief financial officer, HMDC (far left), unveils a cheque with Dr. Kirk Anderson, dean, Faculty of Education (middle), and Dr. David Wardlaw, provost and vice-president (academic), at a recent funding announcement.

By Laura Barron

On June 11, Memorial University of Newfoundland announced the largest contribution ever made to the Faculty of Education from a single private sector funder. Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd. (HMDC) contributed more than $5 million to support two new programs to enhance teacher education in the province.

The new post-degree bachelor of education program will focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The second program, a professional development program for current kindergarten to Grade 6 teachers in the province, also focuses on STEM subjects.

Titled the Memorial University/Hibernia Project STEM Teacher Preparation Program and the Memorial University/Hibernia Project STEM Teacher Inquiry Program, the two new programs are designed to expand teaching capacity in science, technology, engineering and math in the province. It is also designed to enhance the interest and knowledge of students from kindergarten to Grade 6 in STEM areas, and to increase the participation of young people in STEM disciplines and careers.

"We believe this investment will be transformative," said Paul Phelan, chief financial officer, HMDC. "Helping students develop an early interest in science, technology, engineering and math will open up a whole new world of possibilities as they progress through their academic careers. We expect this investment in teachers will create excitement in the classroom about fields essential to the continued development of the province's resources."

STEM education involves enhancing student knowledge, understanding and critical thinking in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It provides opportunities for students to engage in learning that is interactive, inclusive, innovative and interdisciplinary. While conceptions of STEM education may vary, its goals include increasing STEM literacy and encouraging students to explore advanced degrees and careers in STEM and STEM-related fields.

Dr. Karen Goodnough and Dr. Mary Stordy of Memorial's Faculty of Education are the lead project researchers for the new programs.

"With the guidance of Dr. Goodnough and Dr. Stordy, these programs will aid the teachers of our province in developing the confidence, abilities and skills required to make STEM disciplines come to life," said Dr. Kirk Anderson, dean, Faculty of Education. "These new programs will position Memorial University at the forefront of STEM teacher education in Canada."

"I thank Hibernia for this progressive investment in programming for teachers in order to improve education and student interest in the STEM areas," said Dr. David Wardlaw, provost and vice-president (academic) of Memorial University. "Our Faculty of Education will lead the way nationally, and provide a model for how to build STEM capacity in future primary and elementary teachers in Canada."

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