Converse is answering the call to generate more American citizens in science and math fields through a new scholarship program with an innovative learning twist.
Teaming with the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation in 2006, Converse created the Petrie Math and Science Scholars program to model successful females in these fields to Spartanburg area high school girls. Petrie Scholars tutor students who are experiencing difficulty with the subjects.
The need to develop professionals in science and math is so great, in fact, that the South Carolina General Assembly also responded to the need this June, establishing a $2,500 enhancement to the LIFE Scholarship and Palmetto Fellows Scholarship for eligible students majoring in mathematics and science programs.
The Petrie Scholars, who must major in math or science and indicate interest in entering the teaching field, are recruited by Converse to join the program. They complete a training course in the Fall Term of their freshman year and head into the high schools in the spring to begin the program’s required six academic terms of tutoring. The innovative hands-on learning opportunity not only prepares the scholars for teaching careers but also reinforces their grounding in the core principles of science and math.
This long-term investment is intended to enable Converse students to become a catalyst for positive change in the teaching of science and mathematics in K-12 schools. Converse is uniquely positioned to undertake such a bold initiative and is leveraging its strengths on a number of fronts:
• The dual-degree program in engineering with Clemson University
• The technology-packed Phifer Science Hall
• An unusually strong presence in teacher education in South Carolina and in the Southeast
The first three Petrie Scholars – Madison Brewer ’12 of Roebuck, South Carolina; Samantha Helm ’12 of Summerville, South Carolina; and Aundreana Hunter ’12 of Greer, South Carolina – enrolled at Converse last fall and tutored students at Spartanburg High School this spring. While the students will remain Petrie Scholars throughout their Converse careers, three new scholars will be recruited each year from the incoming freshman class. By 2012 Converse will have 12 Petrie Scholars tutoring up to 36 Spartanburg area high school students annually.
In return for their efforts, the Petrie Scholars receive an $8,000 scholarship annually for their four years at Converse. They must maintain a 3.5 GPA or better and continue to major in math or science in order to keep their status as a Petrie Scholar.
In addition to tutoring students at Spartanburg High, Madison helped Converse II students during January Term. “I really enjoyed interacting with the high school students and the Converse students. They were very eager to understand the material,” she said. “Math is not always the easiest of subjects for people to comprehend, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to share my love of math with others. It was much easier for the students to understand the material because I tried to show them how much fun math can be.”
Spartanburg High student Tanya Tabor, who was struggling in her advanced chemistry class, talked about her tutoring experience with Samantha in an interview the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “She’s re