In 2001 the Georgia Tech Student and Teacher Enhancement Partnership (STEP) Program received three years of funding from the National Science Foundation to develop a program that provides graduate students with the opportunity to cultivate their leadership, teaching, and presentation skills while concurrently using their science and technology content skills to assist local high schools in improving student learning. Graduate students chosen to participate in the STEP program spent 10 hours per week during the summer receiving training on teaching skills and strategies, and 15 hours during the school year planning and directly assisting teachers and students in a local high school. In return, the graduate students received an NSF stipend and tuition waiver.
Beginning in the fall of 2002, STEP expanded to include undergraduate students in Engineering, Science, and Computing who were of junior status or above (at least 60 credit hours) and who were participating in the Georgia Tech Co-op Program with a placement at a local metro-Atlanta employer.
STEP received a five-year extension from the National Science Foundation beginning with the 2004-5 academic year. For this renewal period, there were some changes in the undergraduate program. We received funding from the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences, the School of Literature, Communication and Culture, and the School of Public Policy to support undergraduate fellows from those disciplines.
Undergraduate STEP Fellows worked for 10 hours per week for the whole academic year as part of a team at a local high school, pursuing goals defined by the team of STEP Fellows and teachers. The undergraduate students were paid a stipend of $2,500 from the STEP program for each of Fall and Spring semesters. During the Summer term, the students could enroll in a CETL graduate course for their training. Because of the funding sources, we could only accept students from Engineering, Science, LCC, or Public Policy majors at this time. All undergraduate fellows must have at least junior standing as of the end of the Spring semester prior to their year of participation, and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
Starting in the 2006-7 academic year, the STEP program began moving towards institutionalization with the introduction of STEP Graduate Teaching Fellows. These graduate student participants worked for only five hours per week at the school with an extra two hours of preparation time. In return, they received a tuition exemption and a stipend supplement of $7K on top of another GRA or GTA position. For this transition year, there were both traditional STEP Fellows and these new STEP Teaching Fellows in the program.
In the 2007-8 academic year, the program took one more step towards institutionalization. The traditional STEP fellows were phased out completely. In addition, the undergraduate participants became STEP Teaching Interns with a five hour per week commitment for an hourly pay rate of $15/hour of work (not including commuting or preparation time). Due to the successful funding of an NSF grant, the College of Computing started supporting four undergraduate Teaching Interns in the STEP program.