by Geoff Larcom, Published June 13, 2012
Cory Chavis is a pastor, a youth violence prevention advocate and a chaplain for the Detroit Police Department who received a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy. Now Chavis plans to teach in Michigan's most needy schools and prepare students for work in the new economy.
Chavis, of Canton, is among seven fellows who will attend Eastern Michigan University as part of the second class of the highly competitive W.K. Kellogg-Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship.
In all, 64 fellows will be attending Eastern Michigan, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University as the next class. Another 10 Fellows have chosen to defer the start of their fellowships for a year. The fellows were announced in a press conference this morning in Lansing.
The fellowship recruits both recent college graduates and those seeking a different career. It 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 high-need urban or rural secondary school districts across the state. Those include Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Godfrey-Lee, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Wyoming and Ypsilanti. EMU's relationship is mainly with Detroit schools.
Research from The Education Trust, a Kellogg Foundation grantee, has shown that teacher effectiveness is the most important in-school factor in student achievement and that African-American, Hispanic, Native-American and low-income children of all backgrounds are the least likely to receive highly effective teachers. By preparing and placing first-class math and science teachers in Michigan's most underserved public schools, the WKKF-WW Michigan Teaching Fellowship seeks to provide a solution to this disparity. The program ultimately will provide more than 100,000 students with the level of instruction they need to contribute and thrive in Michigan's rapidly changing economy and workforce.
"We know that teacher effectiveness plays a vital role in student learning outcomes, and we must do all that we can to ensure the best, brightest and most effective teachers are in Michigan classrooms," said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Because improving teacher effectiveness is essential to raising the level of learning for all students, the Kellogg Foundation launched the statewide program in 2009 with $18 million in support, further reflecting its dedication to innovative education practices.
Today, Speirn joined Gov. Rick Snyder and Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, to announce the 2012 class of Fellows, who were selected from a highly competitive pool.
"Great teachers and great teaching can make all the difference for our students, their educational growth, future success and quality of life," said Snyder. "The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship is making tremendous strides toward the goal of providing children across Michigan access to highly effective educators in these critical subject areas, and I commend this work and look forward to its continued role and achievements."
This year, the program received 2,017 applications, up from 1,500 in its inaugural year. Selection included screening at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, a full-day interview process driven by veteran STEM teachers, and a careful admissions review by the partner universities.
All of the fellows majored in a STEM discipline, including 65 percent in sciences, 25 percent in engineering/technology and 10 percent in mathematics.
Nearly one in three holds an advanced degree, while nearly half (47 percent) completed an undergraduate degree more than five years ago. Many fellows who are career changers who have worked with well-known corporations; several are veterans of the armed services. Many have volunteered with faith-based and community organizations.
Here is a list of this year's EMU Fellows, along with their hometown and educational degrees:
Cory Chavis, Canton
Undergraduate college, class, and major: University of Detroit Mercy '95, mechanical engineering
Graduate institution and degree: Ashford University '11, M.B.A.
Noteworthy: Engineering and Science Student of the Year, University of Detroit; magna cum laude graduate, honors student; pastor; youth violence prevention advocate, tutor/mentor; long-term substitute teacher, emotionally impaired students; chaplain, Detroit Police Department; graduate of high-need public schools.
Cheyenne Diadiun, Ypsilanti
Undergraduate college, class, and major: Eastern Michigan University '03, dietetics
Noteworthy: Laboratory analyst; registered dietician and lactation specialist, Detroit Urban League; public health nutrition consultant, Wayne County; dean's list student and magna cum laude graduate; Sunday school instructor to low-income girls; Boys/Girls Club mentor; avid runner/physical fitness advocate.
Marissa Fountain-Nelson, Kalamazoo
Undergraduate college, class, and major: Boston University '09, athletic training
Graduate college, class, and major: University of Nevada, Las Vegas '11 M.S. (kinesiology)
Noteworthy: Athletic trainer/mentor, two public high schools; trainer at physical therapy facility; teaching/laboratory assistant and guest lecturer, kinesiology, UNLV; assistant in Boston University sports medicine department.
Ping He, Ann Arbor
Undergraduate college, class, and major: Peking University '97, chemistry
Graduate institution and degree: Brown University '01, M.S. (organic chemistry)
Noteworthy: Research associate, general organic syntheses (including student training) and estrogen receptors; university chemistry graduate assistant; volunteer, student writing workshop; elementary school events volunteer; volunteer at preschool education center.
Wade Reeser, Centre Hall, PA
Undergraduate college, class, and major: Penn State '85, engineering science
Graduate college, class, and degree: Pennsylvania State University '92, M.S. (electrical engineering), '02 Ph.D. (bioengineering)
Noteworthy: Researcher/analyst, large dynamic physics models for undersea defense; researcher, ozone exposure in human clinical trials; research assistant, bioengineering/chemical engineering/applied research lab; former grade 3 solo bagpiper and pipe sergeant, firefighters pipe band; graduate of rural public schools.
Richard Roe, Ypsilanti
Undergraduate college, class, and major: Eastern Michigan University '10, physics
Noteworthy: Graduate assistant, physics/astronomy department, teaching physics labs; substitute teacher for multiple school districts; member, professional and honors societies; volunteer, middle school group ministry; hiking enthusiast with plans to hike the Appalachian Trail.
Kevin Steinhelper, Canton
Undergraduate college, class, and major: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor '08, mathematical sciences
Noteworthy: Tutor, private math tutoring center; former actuarial analyst, Fortune 1000 company; researcher with career and scholarly experience, quantitative analysis and physics; mentor/tutor for local youth; musician and private instructor, piano.
In addition to Roe and Diadiun, another EMU graduate, Dianielle Rosen of Wyandotte, was selected as a fellow. Rosen, who graduated from EMU in 2010 with a bachelor's in biology and a master's this year in molecular biology, will attend Western Michigan University.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.
About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (www.woodrow.org) identifies and develops leaders and institutions to address the critical challenges facing society through education. The Foundation awards fellowships to strengthen human resources, works to improve public policy, and assists organizations in enhancing practice