1. What is BELS in NH?

BELS in NH stands for Building Equity Leaders for STEM in New Hampshire. BELS in NH is a University of New Hampshire Master Teaching Fellowship program, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce program, that supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers to build their leadership skills, equity pedagogies and STEM content knowledge and instruction. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers (grades 6th -10th) will be recruited from BELS partner school districts, Manchester, Nashua and Rochester.

BELS comprises three strands: teacher leadership, equity, and enriched STEM content and pedagogies. These strands are woven together to create a coordinated, comprehensive PD program for motivated teachers to positively impact STEM instruction at their school and across the state.

BELS is a five-year program involving two phases of professional development including summer institutes, academic year workshops, PLCs, and mentoring plus teacher leadership opportunities at all levels including activities within partner school districts and STEM professional societies: New Hampshire Science Teachers Association and New Hampshire Teachers of Mathematics (see Q. #17- preliminary PD schedule & expected outcomes). Travel, meals, and a competitive fellowship stipend ($50,000) provided. 

BELS in NH will serve as a new capacity-building model for excellence in NH STEM professional development: one that uses a cohort approach to developing teacher leaders, is informed by principles of teacher learning across the career span, involves multi-level collaborations, and is sustainable. Beyond the five-year program, BELS Fellows will serve as outstanding teacher leaders capable of designing and enacting project-based STEM learning that is culturally responsive, relevant and authentic, and who understand the effects of poverty on learning.


2. What are the benefits of participating in the BELS Master Teaching Fellowship program?

BELS Master Teaching Fellow benefits include:

  • As a Master Teaching Fellow receive $50,000 fellowship distributed as $10,000 per year for each of five years (failure to complete reverts to a loan)
  • Take part in ongoing professional development (5 years) to become a teacher leader in equity and STEM
  • Collaborate with a community of other BELS Master Teaching Fellows
  • Design a teacher leadership plan to align with your PD & district goals
  • Work directly with your school district and a NH STEM professional society to disseminate new ideas & strategies


3. What are the expectations of participating in the BELS Master teaching Fellowship program?

  • Accept the terms and conditions of the BELS salary supplement (See Q. #8)
  • Participate fully in all professional development activities (e.g., summer and school-year workshops, district meetings, coaching) over five years
  • Serve as a STEM teacher at a NH high-needs school district (i.e., one of the partner school districts) for the five-year duration of the BELS program
  • Design, teach, and model project-based STEM curricula that are community-responsive & inclusive
  • Implement a self-designed teacher leadership plan aligning with your PD and district goals
  • Take on a leadership role within your school district to lead your own PD activities for peers and colleagues
  • Work with partner NH STEM professional societies, New Hampshire Science Teachers Association & New Hampshire Teachers of Mathematics, to fulfill your leadership plan
  • Provide feedback to the BELS Project Team on annual basis (i.e., online surveys) and share copies of your work as you progress through the BELS program

    4.  What is the program’s definition for STEM?

    We are defining STEM in its broadest terms and can be understood either strictly confined to any of the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics disciplines OR any integrated combination of the disciplines as long as at least one of the disciplines is represented. Computer science, coding, and computational thinking are included in this definition.

    5. When is the application due date?

    All required application materials must be submitted by due date published on the BELS for STEM in NH webpage, February 12, 2021.


    6. From where can I obtain the BELS in NH online application?

    The online application and associated instructions can be found on the BELS in NH webpage:  unh.edu/leitzel-center/BELS-NH.


    7. Do I need to collect and provide any academic career transcripts?

    All post-high school grade transcripts must be provided. This includes transcripts from colleges and universities that you attended, but may not have earned a degree. Unofficial copies of transcripts are acceptable.


    8. How much is the fellowship?

    Teachers receive a fellowship of $10,000 per year for each of the program’s five-years (total of $50,000). See Q. #8 on early departure from the program.


    9. What happens if I decide to or need to leave the program at any time?

    Any participant who departs the program prior to completion will have their stipends revert to a loan. This means that early departure participants will be required to repay all or a portion of their stipend. For National Science Foundation’s terms and conditions about the fellowship, click on the "Expand" link below.

    The Building Equity Leaders for STEM in NH fellowship will revert to a loan, meaning the recipient will be required to repay all or a portion of the fellowship, if any of the bullets below apply to the recipient:

    • fails to maintain an acceptable level of progress in the BELS program;
    • is dismissed from the BELS program or from teaching employment for disciplinary reasons;
    • withdraws from the BELS program before completion (completion occurs in Year 5 of the program);
    • declares no intention to fulfill the intended commitments of a BELS teacher-fellowship, as prescribed by the BELS program
    • unable to complete their BELS program at a NH high-needs school district.

    If one or more of the above circumstances occurs at any time during the first full year of the program, then the total amount of fellowship received by the individual must be repaid.

    If one or more of the above circumstances occurs at any time after completion of the first full year of the program, then one-half of the total amount (including Year 1) of fellowship received by the individual must be repaid.



    10. Do I need to remain in the program for five years?

    Yes. The full program for all participants requires five years to reach completion. Less than full completion of the program requires conversion of your fellowship to a loan. See Q. #8 for details. In addition, no other teacher may take your place in the program at any point during the 5-year teaching commitment.


    11. Do I need to be a classroom teacher?

    Yes.  Applicants must be a full-time, certified STEM teacher and hold a Master’s Degree in a STEM or education discipline. Instructional coaches, specialists, curriculum coordinators, special education teachers and ESLS teachers with primary responsibilities in STEM discipline instruction, AND also holding a Master’s Degree are eligible to apply. The more time spent in the classroom and the more time instructing in STEM areas, the stronger the applicant will be.

    The term STEM teacher means an individual who is certified/licensed to teach mathematics or science (including engineering and computer science) at the secondary level.


    12. Do I need to have a Master’s Degree?

    At the time of application, you must have a Master’s Degree or higher in a STEM or education discipline. There are no exceptions for duration of comparable life or professional experience that can be substituted for this degree requirement.


    13. What grade-levels can I teach in order to apply?

    This program serves STEM teachers in the grades 6 through 10 band. The term STEM teacher means an individual who is certified/licensed to teach mathematics or science (including engineering and computer science) at the secondary level.


    14. Do I need to be a US Citizen or US Permanent Resident to apply?

    Yes. The sponsor, National Science Foundation, requires all fellowship recipients to be US citizens, nationals, or permanent residents.


    15. Do I need to provide letters of recommendation in support of my application?

    Yes.  All applicants must submit two (and only two) letters of recommendations by persons writing about both your demonstrated and your future potential to serve in a leadership role that advances equity in STEM education.

    16. Do I need to notify any persons in my school or district about my intention to apply for the BELS program?

    Yes.  All persons intending to submit an application must notify the BELS point-of-contact for their school district (see list below).


    17. Will the Summer professional development programs interfere with Summer School or other Summer activities (e.g., vacations)?

    Yes.  While the Summer PD programs will not consume the entire Summer, they will be scheduled each year (see Q. #17 for preliminary PD schedule). All participants must attend these sessions and therefore it is necessary to schedule all other Summer activities around your BELS in NH fellowship commitment. The Project Team will make efforts to identify the best or optimal scheduling, but this will not meet everyone’s needs and therefore everyone must be prepared with flexibility around other Summer activities and commitments.

    18. Is there a professional development schedule that I can review?

    Yes. The following chart shows an overview of the PD activities and approximate time commitments. Any posted schedules should be viewed as a general guide and not as solidified. Scheduled activities and their timing are subject to change.

    Table 1: Preliminary BELS Professional Development Schedule* (starting Summer 2021; July 6-9 & Aug. 3-6)



    Summer Academy Intensive


    Academic Year Workshops

    Fellow Provides Outreach within District

    Fellow Provides Support within District

    PLCs & Coaching Sessions with UNH Leadership

    Fellow Designs & Implements Leadership Project

    Fellow Leads Workshop at STEM Conference

    Approximate Time Commitment



















    Phase I

    YR 1










    YR 2










    Phase II

    YR 3










    YR 4










    YR 5










    *In-person workshops will be held at UNH Durham & Manchester campuses throughout the 5-years.



    19. Will this BELS PD be in-person or online?

    At this time, we are planning to hold the BELS PD programming in an in-person format at either our Durham or Manchester campuses (travel to workshops will be covered by BELS). However, we will monitor conditions carefully and continually to ensure that any in-person engagement is safe and conducted according to both state of NH and CDC COVID-19 guidelines. There is the possibility that the PD programming will be provided exclusively using remote formats, including on-line, or in some hybrid model still to be determined. Final determinations on the UNH campus location and format to be used will be dependent on timeliness of guidance received from state and national experts.


    20. Who do I contact for more information?

    For more information, contact: Steve Hale, steve.hale@unh.edu, BELS in NH Program Coordinator.