VISTA Program Opens New Professional Development Site at Virginia Tech

Media Contacts:

Catherine Probst, George Mason University, 703-993-8813,

Jean Elliott, Virginia Tech, 540-231-5915,

Jill Williams, VISTA, 703-993-5396,


Fairfax, Va. In an effort to further engage students and teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) and George Mason University, the lead institution for the project, will partner with Virginia Tech to offer an additional professional development site.

Virginia Tech joins Mason, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University as VISTA’s fourth implementation site. The site will make participation in professional development activities more convenient and economically feasible for elementary teachers, and middle and high school science teachers in the southwest region of the state.

Beginning in June 2013, VISTA Elementary Science Institute will welcome teachers of grades four through six for a four-week program. The program focuses on increasing elementary teachers’ knowledge of science and improving their ability to teach science. The deadline to apply for the program is Feb. 28.

Virginia Tech also will deliver the Secondary Teacher Program starting in August 2013, which provides two graduate-level courses for middle and high school science teachers in their first or second years of teaching. These courses are offered over a two-year period during the fall semesters. Applications for this program will be accepted through late summer.

Participants in both programs receive individualized coaching from master teachers throughout the year, stipends ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, paid travel expenses, and $1000 for classroom science supplies.

John Wells, associate professor in Virginia Tech’s School of Education, will serve as the on-site principal investigator and oversee the program at Virginia Tech. Amy Bordeaux will lead delivery of the two programs at Virginia Tech. Bordeaux started her career as a middle school science teacher at James Madison Middle School in Roanoke City Public Schools, taught science methods courses in the Graduate School of Education at Mason, and has been involved in recruiting and coaching for VISTA.

VISTA educational partners include George Mason University, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, the Virginia Department of Education, and Oregon State University. VISTA corporate partners include Northrop Grumman, Micron Foundation, Boeing, CGI, and Merck, with additional support provided by Dominion, ExploreLearning, IBM, and the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST).

More information and applications for the VISTA program can be found on the website.

About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in education, engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition.

About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 215 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 30,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $450 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


The Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) is a statewide partnership among 60+ Virginia school districts, six Virginia universities, and the Virginia Department of Education. Its goal is to translate research-based best teaching practices into improved science teaching and student learning for all students at all levels. The initiative, which is working to build a community of practice across the Commonwealth, is funded by a five-year, $34 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Investing in Innovation program, which includes a $5.7 million private sector matching requirement. Learn more at