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Fellowship recipients to teach in neediest schools

A former dolphin trainer, a neuroscience specialist, several people with international teaching experiences and an All-American water polo player who plans to swim the English Channel were among the first 92 recipients of the highly competitive W.K. Kellogg Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowships announced May 12.

Recruiting both recent college graduates and those seeking a different career, the three-year fellowship is awarded to promising educators with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Fellows receive $30,000 to pursue a customized master's degree program that prepares them to teach in the neediest urban or rural secondary schools in seven local districts across the state.

By preparing and placing top quality math and science educators in many of Michigan's most underserved public schools, the fellowship program will ultimately provide nearly 101,000 students with the high-quality level of instruction they need to contribute to Michigan's renewal and rapidly changing economy and workforce.

The Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched the statewide program in 2009 with $18 million in support, reflecting its dedication to innovative education practices and recognition that improving teacher quality is the key to raising the level of learning for all students.

Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, joined Gov. Rick Snyder and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in announcing the inaugural class of fellows, who were selected from a highly competitive pool of 1,500 applicants hailing from a variety of experiences and former careers in math and science-related fields.

"It is critically important to create conditions that prepare children for long-term success and independence, and in this case that means surrounding them with top-notch math and science instructors," said Speirn. "Bringing high-quality teachers to our home state's most vulnerable children and school districts honors the foundation's commitment to Michigan communities and to systemic education transformation statewide."

The inaugural fellows will attend Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, Grand Valley State University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Western Michigan University. After graduating, these fellows will not only be equipped to help the students they teach, but will represent a cadre of high-quality instructors whose knowledge and practices will positively impact their colleagues and make a real difference in the lives of students across the state.

"These people are amazing — engineers and zookeepers and medical researchers and astrophysicists, some in mid-career, others just graduating at the top of their classes. They all bring real science and math expertise to the kids who most need strong teachers," said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. "They learn to teach in real classrooms from the very beginning, just as doctors learn in hospitals. They're prepared to succeed in teaching as a long-term career. They're going to change the face of teaching and they're going to change tens of thousands of lives."

"Quality education begins with quality teachers," said Gov. Rick Snyder. "The W.K. Kellogg Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teacher Fellowship Program aligns with the state's objective to ensure that all Michigan students have access to driven, effective educators."

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (www.woodrow.org) identifies and develops leaders and institutions to address critical national challenges, working through education. The foundation supports its fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American institutions. It also supports innovation in the institutions they will lead.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

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