Felllows from left to right: Michael Seymour, Ebert Escobar, Hannah Mattson, Heather Wegenhart, Keyonna Sturdivant, Cassie Smith, Chashaun Matthews, Laila Bacha, Diana Dowd, James Herndon, Yancey Mitchell, and Shadeed Abdul-Salaam (not shown) with Project Director, Dr. Desha L. Williams.
KENNESAW, Ga. (June 1, 2015) – It was a little like a blind date when the 12 Woodrow Wilson teaching fellows met their mentor teachers for the first time recently. But as with any successful pairing, the participants soon hit it off.
"This is a banner day for us to have this group come together," said Kennesaw State University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Ken Harmon. "This is an outstanding initiative with tremendous implications for the future."
Last year, the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State was selected as one of five Georgia institutions for the Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship, a growing national initiative that seeks to increase the supply of outstanding teachers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to change how they are prepared to teach.
Kennesaw State, along with Columbus State University, Georgia State University, Mercer University and Piedmont College, each received $400,000 matching grants to develop their teacher preparation programs based on standards set by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The institutions were charged with developing a model master’s-level teacher preparation program, offering fellows a rigorous yearlong experience in local classrooms.
The fellowships are similar to a physician’s hospital-based training in conjunction with a medical school.
"I’ve always been good at math, but I want to switch to math education because I found my passion is to help students," said Keyonna Sturdivant, a fellow who moved from Ohio to Georgia to participate in the program. "Eventually, I’d like to get a Ph.D. in education to be a superintendent or a math education professor one day."
The teaching fellows receive $30,000 stipends to use during the 15-month, 36-credit hour master’s program, followed by three years of teaching and mentoring. Preparation extends into the first three years of teaching in urban or rural schools, incorporating induction and mentoring programs that feature ongoing school-university cooperation.
"I wanted a student teacher so I could help someone who wants to be a teacher," said Daniel Keiger, a KSU grad and junior math teacher at Osborne High School. "I want to help them grow as a teacher."
The 12 fellows were chosen from a pool of 1,000 applicants, according to Tom Bordenkircher, a Woodrow Wilson Foundation representative at the event.
"Working with this institution has been one of the biggest pleasures in my job," he said."KSU ranked tops among all the people applying for fellowships, which tells us you were known long before we got here for great education and great teacher education."