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NewsJul 27, 2018

Biogen boosts Lesley-led teacher development

University among six nonprofits benefiting from neuroscience pioneer’s $10M grant for support of science teaching.

Lesley faculty members sitting around a round table in a classroom having a discussion.

Lesley has been awarded $2 million over the next four years to support Cambridge and Somerville teachers’ professional learning in math and science. The grant is part of a $10 million Biogen Foundation grant being shared by six selected nonprofit organizations.

“This grant uniquely situates Lesley at the district level for conversations about the many ways that we can help to advance teaching and learning in Cambridge and Somerville,” says Assistant Professor Sue Cusack. “We hope to grow this work and generate new opportunities for deep and sustainable school-based and district-level partnerships in Somerville and Cambridge, in math and science, and beyond.”

Cusack is director of the Lesley University STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) Learning Lab, which is designed to research new opportunities for learning through engagement and inquiry-based exploration. Cusack and her colleagues work with students, educators and community partners to foster the “maker” way of learning, both providing off-site trainings and using the University Hall makerspace as a space to play, tinker, design and create.

“We are excited to respond to the needs of educators in Somerville and Cambridge public schools,” says Cusack. “We’ll be providing authentic professional learning opportunities to support middle- and high-school student-and-teacher engagement in related career pathways.”

Lesley’s STEAM Learning Lab team will collaborate closely with our Center for Mathematics Achievement Director Hilary Kreisberg and Program Coordinator Brittany Gonio, and with professors Susan Rauchwerk and Nicole Weber in the Graduate School of Education Science in Education Program and WonderLab.

“We are very grateful and excited to be working with such a thoughtful, nimble, and dynamic team,” Cusack notes. “Without their willingness to partner in this effort, we would have been unable to submit and secure this grant.”

Also gaining support under the Biogen Foundation’s STAR program (Science Teacher support, Access and Resources) are Breakthrough Greater Boston, Citizen Schools, Enroot, uAspire and Young People’s Project.

“We are honored to serve as a catalyst for collaboration among these six community partners to help students and teachers participate in the local STEM ecosystem,” says Biogen Chief Executive Officer Michel Vounatsos. “Biogen is proud to demonstrate our continued commitment to education in our community through this important Biogen Foundation initiative.”