Eastern Michigan to partner in fellowship to prepare new math, science teachers

by Pamela Young, Published January 08, 2010

YPSILANTI —Eastern Michigan University, known for its 160-year history of teacher education, will participate in a new fellowship program designed to prepare teachers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship has awarded a $16.7 million grant to six Michigan public universities and five school districts for training 240 new math and science teachers to work in selected middle and high schools. In addition to Eastern Michigan, the universities are the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Wayne State University. The five school districts are the Detroit Public Schools, Battle Creek Public Schools, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Benton Harbor Area Schools and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced the fellowship grant Jan. 7 in Lansing.  Michigan is one of only three states, along with Indiana and Ohio, chosen for this program. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded fellowship program provides promising future teachers with an exemplary master’s degree in education, and places those fellows in hard-to-staff middle and high schools for a minimum of three years. Candidates will range from college seniors and recent graduates to those who have changed careers or veteran educators.

Granholm said Jan. 7 that Michigan has phenomenal universities. “That’s why the news of our state being chosen for this program is so exciting,” she said in a statement.  “The state desperately needs teachers in the areas of math and science. Over a period of five years, nearly 20,000 Michigan public school students will receive a high-quality education in science, technology, engineering and math from these new teachers.”

Factors considered as part of the process of selecting the universities included a commitment to the goals and standards of the fellowship; the capacity to establish a world-class math and science teacher education program; and existing relationships between the universities and surrounding urban or rural school districts. Eastern’s strengths included:

  • Its teacher preparation programs, which are rated as “exemplary” by the Michigan Department of Education.
  • Eastern Michigan is one of the largest providers of educational personnel in the country.
  • Depending on the discipline, between 90 and 100 percent of Eastern students pass the state certification subject matter test on their first try.
  • Eastern has long history of cooperation between its college of arts and sciences and its college of education in planning special programs to train teachers. That is particularly relevant for a program offering training in STEM areas. Examples of this joint effort include development of the Masters of Arts in Teaching program in mathematics and development of a new elementary education program.
  • The University has a solid track record of preparing and placing students of color in teaching positions. The Michigan Department of Education has given EMU the highest rating in the “Diversity” category.
  • Fourteen percent of Eastern’s teacher education graduates are minorities, making EMU second only to Wayne State within the state of Michigan.
  • Eastern has partnership agreements that offer intensive mentoring for its graduates with six area school systems. They are Ann Arbor, Lincoln, Inkster, Wayne-Westland, Willow Run and Ypsilanti.

As part of a Jan. 6 White House event celebrating the importance of teachers in the four STEM areas, President Barack Obama called the fellowship “a model effort to inspire students to excel in math and science.”

He also cited the Michigan Teaching Fellowship as one of the new partners in the president’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign. The campaign is part of his efforts to lift American students to the “top of the pack” in science and math achievement during the next decade. The campaign was launched in November 2009.

Pamela Young

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