Inaugural Class of Fellows in New Woodrow Wilson Program Will Prepare Thousands of Students for Workforce, Citizenship in the Knowledge Economy
Trenton, N.J.– A Ph.D. cancer researcher who has taught at Princeton University. A former senior scientist from the pharmaceutical industry. A geologist and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
These individuals are among the first 50 Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows, announced today by Governor Chris Christie at the New Jersey State House in Trenton. The highly competitive program recruits both recent graduates and career changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math—the STEM fields—and prepares them specifically to teach in high-need secondary schools. (See http://woodrow.org/news/2014-ww-newjersey-teachingfellows/ for a list of bios and factsheet on the 2014 class of Fellows.)
“With today’s announcement, we are reaffirming our commitment to investing in teacher talent with a new pipeline for recruiting highly qualified teaching candidates and training them so they can generate the greatest positive learning outcomes for our children,” said Governor Christie. “By preparing these Fellows to be top-quality educators, we will be helping more than 15,000 students to contribute and thrive in a knowledge-based, global, digital economy and workforce.”
Each Fellow receives $30,000 to complete a specially designed, cutting-edge master’s degree program based on a year-long classroom experience. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in the urban and rural New Jersey schools that most need strong STEM teachers. Throughout the three-year commitment, Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring.
The Fellowship focuses on preparing top-quality educators for many of New Jersey’s most underserved public schools. Students in high-need schools are significantly less likely to have access to strong STEM teachers.
“Study after study has shown that the single most important in-school factor in student achievement is access to excellent classroom teachers,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “These Fellows are bringing real science and math expertise to the kids who most need them. They’re going to change tens of thousands of lives.”
The Fellows will attend The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Rowan University, Rutgers University—Camden, and William Paterson University. The five institutions have agreed to make significant changes in their teacher preparation programs for these Fellows. These universities partner with local school districts, where Fellows learn to teach in real classrooms from the beginning of their master’s work, just as physicians learn in teaching hospitals.
The partner districts for Fellows’ clinical placements include Camden, Ewing Township, Newark, New Brunswick, Orange, Passaic City, Paterson, Pemberton Township, Trenton, and the rural Southern New Jersey districts of Millville, Bridgeton, and Vineland.
“Ultimately, we aim not only to prepare excellent teachers for a long-term career, but also to change the way all New Jersey teachers are prepared for real classroom challenges,” Levine said.
The program is supported to date by a consortium of New Jersey funders, headed by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Other funders include M. Brian and Sandy Maher; the Overdeck Family Foundation; Carnegie Corporation of New York; Jennifer Chalsty; the Drug, Chemical, and Associated Technologies Association (DCAT); the Educational Testing Service; the Fournier Family Foundation, Inc.; the JP Morgan Chase Foundation; Judy Lewent; Al Merck; the PSEG Foundation; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Schumann Fund for New Jersey; the William E. Simon Foundation; the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation; the Victoria Foundation; Helmut Weymar; and the Wright Foundation.
Initial funding of $11.4 million has enabled the participating colleges and universities to reshape their preparation programs and enroll their first classes of Fellows—12 Fellows each at TCNJ, Montclair, and William Paterson, and 7 each at Rowan and Rutgers. Given the state’s shortage of secondary-level STEM teachers, the Foundation is looking for additional partners and funders to expand the program to an eventual $13.6 million target—a level at which the program can produce enough Fellows to fill nearly all anticipated STEM vacancies in the participating districts.
New Jersey is one of five states now participating in the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships, which named its first Fellows in 2009 in Indiana. Other states hosting the program include Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia. Additional partner states will soon be announced, Levine said.
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About the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation (www.grdodge.org) is a private foundation based in Morristown, New Jersey. Established in 1974, it focuses on issues critical to New Jersey in the areas of Arts, Education, Environment and Media and funds organizations that have a direct, meaningful impact on the state. The Dodge Foundation’s mission is to support leadership, innovation, and collaboration for a better New Jersey.
About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey (www.woodrow.org/) identifies and develops leaders to meet the nation's most critical challenges. In 1945, the Foundation was created to meet the challenge of preparing a new generation of college professors. Today Woodrow Wilson offers a suite of fellowships to address national needs, including the education of teachers and school leaders.