The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation was founded in 1999, but the inspiration began four decades before.
The inspiration for the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) dates back to 1968, when Mr. C. Harry Knowles founded Metrologic Instruments Inc. This innovative company became a leader in advanced bar code scanners and a pioneering force in the data capture industry, eventually registering over 387 patents. While looking for talent to employ at Metrologic Instruments, Mr. Knowles noticed a lack of high quality science and mathematics training among young engineering recruits. This experience spurred his commitment to supporting science and mathematics education.
Prior to forming KSTF, Mr. Knowles and Mrs. Janet H. Knowles established themselves as philanthropists committed to education. In 1999, they established the Janet H. and C. Harry Knowles Foundation (now known as the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation), based on a strong belief that America’s well-being and economic future hinges on bringing new scientists and mathematicians into the workforce. They also wanted to recognize the teachers who helped to shape their lives. The new foundation was dedicated to increasing the number and quality of high school science and mathematics teachers in the United States.
KSTF Programs Introduced
Dr. Angelo Collins served as the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation’s Executive Director from 2000 until 2011. Angelo spent her first full year with the foundation meeting with experts and researchers in science and mathematics education identifying the needs that KSTF might meet. Her findings on how best to recruit, cultivate and support beginning high school teachers led to the creation of the KSTF Teaching Fellowships in 2002.
KSTF Teaching Fellowships were designed to meet the needs of beginning teachers from the credentialing process through the early years of their careers. The first teaching Fellowships were awarded to three science teachers in June 2002.
KSTF’s Research Program was also introduced in 2002 as a means to inform the design, development and evaluation of all elements of the Teaching Fellows Program. In 2005, the first Young Scholars Research Fellowship was awarded. These two-year Fellowships provided ﬁnancial and professional support to recent, pre-tenure Ph.D.s in research and academic positions who were engaged in critical research relevant to the recruitment, preparation, induction, mentoring and retention of science and mathematics teachers in U.S. high schools.
The Teaching Fellows Program expanded in 2005, when seven Fellowships were awarded to mathematics teachers. Later in the year, KSTF moved its headquarters to a new location in Moorestown, N.J., to accommodate the growth of the foundation and its programs and staff.
Since its inception, KSTF has hosted two conferences. Organized to create an environment for scholars in education, experienced teachers, and KSTF Research and Teaching Fellows to meet and discuss important topics in science and mathematics education, the conferences were held in 2006 and 2008, respectively. One of the outcomes of the inaugural conference was the publication of a book that synthesized the discussions and conclusions of conference participants, entitled The continuum of secondary science teacher preparation: Knowledge, questions, and research recommendations. Eds. Collins, A., & Gillespie, N. (2009). To increase the reach of the Teaching Fellows Program, a biological sciences strand was added in 2008.
The first cohort of KSTF Teaching Fellows became alumni in 2007. Seeking to expand the reach of KSTF, a new staff member was hired in 2011 to build a more structured Alumni Program (now known as the Senior Fellows Program). Designed to strengthen STEM and the teaching profession by increasing the impact of KSTF Teaching Fellows and Senior Fellows in the field of education, the Senior Fellows Program engages participants in continuous learning through communities of practice in the field; supports participants through self-initiated exploratory projects; provides opportunities for participants to offer leadership to KSTF and KSTF Teaching Fellows; and enables participation in ongoing research about STEM and STEM education.
The Research & Evaluation Program has evolved to meet the organization’s needs. It currently focuses on research on and by KSTF, program evaluation and teacher research. The program supports innovative studies of teacher development, teaching, learning and leadership across KSTF through internal studies, internal/external partnerships and projects, and a practitioner-centered research community. In an effort to develop classroom teachers as researchers and generators of teaching knowledge, funds previously allocated to the Young Scholars Research Fellowship were reallocated in July 2011.
By 2012, the Teaching Fellows Program had reached its steady-state size, supporting approximately 150 Fellows across the five years of the program. With more than 250 Teaching Fellows and Senior Fellows teaching in 42 states, KSTF remains committed to improving high school STEM education in the United States.
Second Executive Director Elected
KSTF reached another milestone on March 1, 2013, when the Board of Trustees elected Dr. Nicole Gillespie as the second Executive Director of the foundation. With more than nine years of service at KSTF and an extensive background in education and teacher education, Dr. Gillespie is uniquely positioned to help KSTF achieve its mission of building a stable, sustainable network of STEM teacher leaders committed to transforming education from the classroom.