KALAMAZOO--An engineer who holds 55 patents and a professional pilot with experience as a veterinary medicine surgical nurse supervisor are among 13 highly skilled people pursuing a specially designed master's degree at Western Michigan University to prepare them for careers as science and math teachers in high-need public schools.
Each of the 13 has received one of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowships. This statewide initiative aims to improve student achievement by placing into secondary-school classrooms career changers or recent college graduates who are particularly talented in math, science or technology.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled the 2012 cohort at a press conference in Lansing today. This is the second year of the program in Michigan. WMU and five other state universities are each training a class of fellows. The students were selected for this competitive fellowship for their strong backgrounds in what are known as STEM disciplines--science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"Great teachers and great teaching can make all the difference for our students, their educational growth, future success and quality of life," said Snyder in announcing the new fellows. "The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship is making tremendous strides toward the goal of providing children across Michigan access to highly effective educators in these critical subject areas, and I commend this work and look forward to its continued role and achievements."
Each participant receives a $30,000 fellowship to complete a cutting-edge master's degree program as preparation to teach in urban or rural schools. They commit to teaching for three years and will receive ongoing mentoring. Meanwhile, the participating universities agree to redesign their teacher education programs.
Goals of this initiative are to attract the best candidates to teaching, cut teacher attrition, put talented educators in high-need schools and also transform university-based teacher education programs.
The Wilson fellowship program is offered in other states. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched this initiative in Michigan, providing $18 million in funding for it.
This year's fellowship competition attracted 102,000 inquiries and ultimately 2,017 applications. The selection process included screening at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, a full-day interview led by STEM teachers and careful admissions review by the universities.
The other universities hosting fellows are Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. The 2012 cohort consists of 64 students who primarily hail from Michigan communities.
Fellows from WMU's inaugural class are just completing their first year of the program, which included a teacher internship, and are in the process of filing for certification.
2012 Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellows at WMU
The 2012 fellows at WMU, their hometown and their degree and professional activities are:
- Stephen Breisach of Kalamazoo. He is a 2011 graduate of WMU who majored in biomedical science. A sergeant with the Michigan Army National Guard, Breisach is an Iraq war veteran and has served as a combat medic. He was a dean's list student at WMU and worked as a research associate in histology at a local company.
- Vincent Csapos of Ovid, Mich. He is the recipient of two undergraduate degrees from WMU. Csapos first majored in physical science and earned a bachelor's degree in 1980. He completed a second bachelor's degree in 1991, majoring in engineering sciences. Professionally, Csapos has more than 25 years experience as an engineer in manufacturing/technical project management.
- Steven DeLong of Marshall, Mich. He is a 1996 graduate of Ferris State University who majored in pharmacy. DeLong is a pharmacist who has taught at the college level and mentored pharmacy students.
- Keith Dodich of Royal Oak, Mich. He is a 1999 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who majored in aeronautics/transportation. Dodich has more than a decade of experience as an airline pilot. He has also served as a Federal Aviation Administration evaluator.
- Mary Jane Ewing of Grand Ledge, Mich. She is a 1980 graduate of WMU, majoring in paper science/engineering. She is also pursuing a master's degree in business administration from Davenport University. Ewing has been a tutor and graduate teaching assistant in health, accounting and math.
- Lezlea Jones of Battle Creek, Mich. She is a 1994 graduate of the University of Michigan-Flint, where she earned a bachelor's degree in biology. A 2010 alumna of WMU, she earned a master's degree in counseling psychology. Jones is a therapist who is especially experienced in working with youths from low-income families.
- Anna Kozak of Bridgman, Mich. She is a 1980 graduate of Tennessee Technological University who majored in animal sciences. An aviation courseware writer, Kozak has more than a dozen years of experience as a professional pilot and flight instructor. She formerly worked as a surgical nurse supervisor at a veterinary medicine school.
- Mark Mattox of Portage, Mich. He is a 2002 graduate of Kalamazoo College who majored in chemistry. A swim coach for more than 10 years, Mattox has been a substitute teacher in public and private schools. He also has experience as an English language teacher in South Korea.
- Richard McCoy of Savannah, Tenn. He is a 1988 graduate of Christian Brothers University, where he majored in electrical engineering. McCoy has more than 20 years experience in software and controls engineering, including being responsible for teaching engineers. He holds 55 patents.
- Angee Neagle of Battle Creek, Mich. She is a 2003 graduate of the University of Michigan who majored in chemistry. She also earned a master's degree in applied statistics from WMU in 2009. Neagle has worked as a chemist for a major pharmaceutical company as well as an adjunct chemistry instructor for a community college.
- Heather Philbert-Aponte of Kalamazoo. A 1990 alumna of WMU, Philbert-Aponte majored in computer science. She has been a database analyst, a systems analyst and an engineer for higher education, municipal government and major international industry
- Danielle Rosen of Wyandotte, Mich. She is soon to be a two-time graduate of Eastern Michigan University. Rosen majored in biology as an undergraduate, earning a bachelor's degree in 2010. This year, she expects to complete a master's degree in molecular biology. Rosen has been a researcher in a molecular biology lab and studied genetics.
- Ashley Teed of Kalamazoo. She is a 2010 graduate of Central Michigan University, where she majored in exercise science. She is a certified nursing assistant at a rehabilitation center and formerly worked as a wellness specialist at a local health system.