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Fellowships help STEM alumni reform teaching

Oct. 13, 2010

KALAMAZOO--People with science, mathematics and engineering degrees who want to be part of a national effort to reform the way math and science are taught in the United States have a new option--a graduate fellowship program that offers a $30,000 stipend and a chance to spend a transformative year earning a master's degree and teaching in a high-need middle or high school classroom.

Photo of Woodrow Wilson Fellow teaching.Western Michigan University is one of six Michigan universities now accepting applications for entry into the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship Program.

Foundation officials will offer an information session about the program at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, in Room 1040 of the Fetzer Center.

A total of 20 fellowships will be available in each of the next two years at WMU and at the five other schools in the Michigan program.

Applications for the two final rounds of consideration for 2011 are due Dec. 1 and Jan. 12, respectively. Complete information and application details are available at wwteachingfellowship.org.

The fellowship program is aimed at those with bachelor's degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, know as STEM programs. The Michigan fellowships were unveiled early this year by President Barack Obama during a Washington, D.C., news conference.

The program, which already exists in Indiana, begins next year in both Michigan and Ohio. In Michigan, it will be funded by a $16.7 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation.

The opportunity is open to career changers who already hold undergraduate degrees in the arts and sciences as well as recent grads and students who will graduate this year. Those selected will attend an enriched, school-based master's-level teacher education program. Throughout the program, their coursework will be blended with teaching experiences completed alongside a master teacher in a high-need middle or high school classroom.

"This is an amazing career opportunity for alumni and community members who are interested in changing careers and also for students graduating this year in STEM fields," says Dr. Marcia Fetters, associate professor of teaching, learning and educational studies, who co-directs the fellowship program at WMU with Dr. Tabitha Mingus, associate professor of mathematics.

"Fellows are trained in an intense mentoring experience with master teachers. When they complete the program, they will become part of an elite national network of Woodrow Wilson Fellows who are thought leaders and advocates for reform," says Fetters.

At WMU, the program will be a strong field-based effort focused on preparing teachers for work in urban settings. The University has partnered with two large school districts—Benton Harbor Area Schools and Kalamazoo Public Schools—to ensure fellows have a wealth of experience in the classroom.

The fellowship program at WMU will lead to initial certification in mathematics, chemistry and physics. Certification will be earned in the first year of the fellowship program, and the program will ultimately lead to a master's degree.

Michigan universities selected in addition to WMU are Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan--Ann Arbor and Wayne State University.

Across Michigan, the fellowship will prepare 240 teachers for two years beginning in summer 2011. Over the course of the program, approximately 90,000 students will receive high-quality instruction in the critical STEM subject areas from teaching fellows in their first three years in the classroom.

The first round of fellowship awards will be announced in April 2011. Fellows will begin their studies in May. A three-year commitment to teaching in one of Michigan's high need districts is part of the fellowship program.

The first cohort of fellows will seek teaching positions for fall 2012 employment in high-need districts around the state. Through the fellowship program and during their first three years of teaching, they will receive intensive support and mentoring to encourage them to continue their professional development and work with Michigan youth.

Visit wmich.edu/education/fellowships for more information about the WMU program.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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