Voya STEM Fellowship

Professional learning that takes your STEM teaching from good to great

The National Network of State Teachers of the Year and Voya Financial partnered to investigate what leads to effective STEM learning. Over the course of three fellowships, 15 members of NNSTOY and 15 high-potential educators have sought to answer these guiding questions:

1. How can professional learning opportunities be transformed to empower STEM teachers with the skills they need to create robust learning environments?

2. What changes could be made to teacher training and professional learning that would directly lead to an increased interest of STEM careers among students?

3. What are some activities or learning programs that would lead to these outcomes?

Jump to:

Professional Learning Videos

Fellowship Phase 1

Fellowship Phase 2

Fellowship Phase 3

Professional Learning Calendar

About the Fellows

Based on their research over the past two years, the Fellows created professional learning videos in 2019 for STEM educators so that they have the skills they need to provide students with robust learning environments.

Go to the videos.


In 2020, the Fellows are building off of their research and hosting Twitter chats based on the 7 Characteristics of Rockstar STEM Educators and leading virtual workshops from March - June.

Go to the content calendar and videos.

Professional Learning Videos

Professional Learning Videos to Enhance Your Practice

STEM is more than a set of subjects to teach - it’s a mindset! The Fellows created a Facebook Live Summer Series to provide professional learning to STEM educators so that they have the skills they need to provide students robust learning environments.


*Click each of the characteristics below to learn strategies to improve your teaching to improve student outcomes.


  1. 2020 Virtual Workshops
  2. Building Classroom Culture and Positive Relationships
  3. Encouraging Academic Risk-Taking
  4. Inspiring Curiosity and Inquiry
  5. Promoting Failure
  6. Collaborating with Colleagues, Organizations, and Businesses to Improve Learning
  7. Exposing Students to Real-World STEM Research and Problem Solving
  8. Willing to Rock the Boat




About the Fellowship


Fellowship Phase 1

Fellowship Phase 1: Building the Foundation

In the beginning, the Fellows found that there are 18 Characteristics of Effective STEM Educators:

Read the Phase 1 Impact Report

Fellowship Phase 2

Fellowship Phase 2: Narrowing the Focus

The Fellows built off of the work of "Characteristics of Rockstar STEM Educators" and conducted focus groups to determine what of the (above) list was most important to teach and hardest to teach a teacher to do well.

The Fellows conducted focus groups over the 2018 school year with 420 STEM teachers, 50 administrators, and 10 university professors that yielded the following results:

*See more of Phase 2 findings below.



Using the survey data, the fellows took the skills that overlapped (very important AND hardest to teach a teacher to do well) and developed the 7 Characteristics of Rockstar STEM Educators.

Read the Phase 2 Impact Report

Fellowship Phase 3

Fellowship Phase 3: Sharing Broadly

Having researched deeply, the Fellows are ready to broadly share the findings of the first two fellowships with STEM educators around the globe through virtual workshops and Twitter chats.  Join the Voya STEM Fellows for bi-weekly virtual workshops and Twitter chats to build your PLC, your skillsets, and continue to grow as a STEM educator.

Professional Learning Calendar


About the Fellows

Voya STEM Fellows

Learn more about our Fellows, click each name to read more.

Katie Anderson

Katie is an Assistant Professor and teaches methods coursework to preservice teachers and supervises student teachers.@KatieAndersonSD

Jessica Anderson

Jessi Anderson is the 2016 Montana Teacher of the Year, an aspiring researcher, and a lover of coaching teachers to implement innovative practices.


Carly Bowden

Carly Bowden is a 7th grade math teacher and a Milken Award winning educator. She is an advocate and believer in the power of experiential learning for every student.


Hailey Bull

Hailey is a sixth year science teacher and STEM enthusiast at Vallivue Middle School in Caldwell, Idaho.


Melissa Collins

Melissa Collins has been an elementary school teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis, TN for 20 years, where she is constantly amazed by her students’ curiosity about the world around them.


Allison Dopler

Allison is a social studies teacher at a STEM school in Colorado.


Steve Elza

The 2015 Illinois Teacher of Year, Steve Elza deeply dedicated to student success, teaching Automotive Technology in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.


Melyssa Ferro

Dr. Melyssa Ferro, the 2016 Idaho STOY, is a middle science teacher, STEM coordinator, and advocate for student opportunities in STEM. She is passionate about citizen science and place-based learning and encouraging underrepresented STEM student populations to persevere in STEM educational and career pathways.


Anthony Grisllio

Anthony E. Grisillo is a teacher librarian who is the 2014/15 PA Teacher of the Year, an avid science enthusiast, and passionate learner and teacher.


Debbie Grothaus

Debbie is a physics teacher at Los Alamos High School.


Jerome Kroll

Jerry is a CTE Teacher with a focus on Automotive Technology.


Cameron McKinley

Cameron is a Technology Coach and mom of 3 who loves learning, technology, family, and fitness, and served as AL Teacher of the Year 2007. Google Certified Innovator http://bit.ly/2LyZ30w


LeAnn Morris

Dr. LeAnn M. Morris, CETL, is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Carson City School District, where she is a 30-year veteran, the 2008 Nevada State Teacher of the Year, the 2009 NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence for Nevada, and a Kappa Delta Pi Teacher of Honor.


Nola Norris-Greer

Nola Norris-Greer is a second-grade teacher.


Michelle Pearson

Michelle is the 2011 Colorado Teacher of the Year, a Tech geek, and a Historic Preservationist.

@tchpreservation, @2geekyteachers

Rachelle Pedersen

Rachelle is a Technology Education teacher, an Engineer, and now a full-time Ph.D. student, who is passionate about helping kids be engaged and successful in STEM!


Katie Pemberton

Katie has 15 years experience as a middle school math teacher, was awarded the 2013 Idaho State Teacher of the Year, and the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.


Kristen Record

The 2011 CT Teacher of the Year, Kristen has taught physics at Bunnell High School in Straford, CT since 2000, is the recipient of the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and is an advocate for strong public schools.


Dyane Smokorowski

Smokorowski is the 2013 KS Teacher of the Year and a 2019 National Teacher Hall of Fame inductee whose passions include active and engaging professional learning and student global collaboration.


Tim Stumpff

Tim is a third-year teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, striving to help create future leaders, old and young.


Kali Tomlinson

Kali is a sixth-grade math and science teacher and a  lifelong learner who loves to laugh.


Carolyn Torres

Third-grade teacher, Carolyn Torres, Ed.D.is the 2014 NMSTOY, a National Board Certified teacher and has been teaching math and science for 29 years.


Cori Wotjuski

Cori is a fifth-grade teacher from Wisconsin who is passionate about STEM education and who wishes all students have the opportunity to explore each day.


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