Math and science experts to teach in high-need urban, rural schools as part of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships at EMU

by Debra Johnson, Published July 15, 2013


YPSILANTI - An electrician, an airline pilot and an electrical engineer are among seven Fellows who will attend Eastern Michigan University this fall as part of the highly competitive W.K. Kellogg Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has named 51 Michigan Teaching Fellows, who will each receive $30,000 to complete a specially designed, master's degree program as preparation to teach in high-need schools. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in Michigan's high-need urban and rural secondary schools.

The Fellows will complete their clinical work and master's degrees at Eastern bringing cutting-edge preparation and real-world expertise in math and science to high-need schools.

The 2013 class is the third group of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows named in Michigan for this program, launched by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2010 and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, located in Princeton, NJ.

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. Numerous studies have demonstrated that students in high-need schools are significantly less likely to have access to such teachers, particularly in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

Here is a list of this year's EMU Fellows, along with their hometown, educational degrees and noteworthy facts about each recipient:

  • Rose Brown, of Ypsilanti, graduated from Michigan State University in 2001 and majored in merchandising management. Noteworthy experience: substitute teacher; college chemistry and biology tutor; electrician with eight years' experience; dean's list student; ice hockey player, Michigan Senior Women's Hockey League.
  • Katherine Dickson, of Little Falls, NY, graduated in 2012 from Carnegie Mellon University where she majored in creative writing. Noteworthy experience: Algebra and English, language and arts tutor, City Year Detroit; Phi Beta Kappa graduate, dean's list student; volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters; after-school karate instructor; president, college ski team.
  • Michael Ploof, of Huntington Woods, graduated from Kettering University in 2008 in mechanical engineering and from the University of Michigan in 2010 with a master's in biomedical engineering. Noteworthy experience: Michigan Engineering Education Outreach Teaching Fellow teaching at Ypsilanti High School; volunteer tutor at elementary school, middle school, high school, and community college levels; consultant, small engineering firms, four years; advocate/participant, the Maker movement (inventors and DIY engineering/construction).
  • Steve Kowalski, of Ann Arbor, graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2001 and majored in liberal studies. Noteworthy experience: community organizer focusing on environmental hazards; AmeriCorps volunteer, urban high-need school; Habitat for Humanity volunteer; co-leader, after-school homework program.
  • Christopher Meyer, of Farmington, graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2000, where he majored in aeronautical science. Noteworthy experience: airline pilot, 10 years' experience; flight instructor, incorporating the role of physics in flight into lessons; son of a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools; coach, numerous soccer teams.
  • Kwanda Neal, from Ann Arbor, graduated from University of Michigan from 2009 in sociology. Noteworthy experience: graduate of high-need school; math substitute teacher and tutor; middle school track coach; camp counselor, Detroit Public Schools; ACT prep instructor, high school students; high school administrative assistant.
  • Quinton Myers, of Southfield, graduated from Lawrence Technological University in 2004 with a degree in computer engineering and electrical engineering. Noteworthy experience: Electrical and application engineer for four years; analyst intern with top automotive company; volunteer with the Saving Our Sons mentoring center; mentor/speaker with Detroit Public Schools; founding partner of a children's enrichment & leadership program.

All of the Woodrow Wilson fellows majored in a STEM discipline during college, with 29 percent (25) majoring in the sciences, 10 percent (5) in mathematics, and 13 percent (7) in engineering. Twenty-two recipients have advanced degrees including 11 graduate degrees, two Ph.D's and nine master's degrees.

"The research is clear - the most important factor affecting the quality of a student's education is the quality of the classroom teacher," said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. "Beyond that, effective educators can make a powerful and lasting impact on students in ways that can't be measured by test scores and report cards."

Other campuses besides Eastern Michigan who are working with the fellows include Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University.

Each university partners with local school districts, where the Woodrow Wilson Fellows learn to teach in real classrooms from the beginning of their master's work, just as physicians learn in teaching hospitals. The ten partner districts for these clinical placements, up from nine last year, include Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Comstock, Detroit, Godfrey-Lee, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Wyoming and Ypsilanti.

"Michigan's economic future will be driven by the STEM fields," said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. "Getting strong math and science teachers into Michigan's high-need schools means both creating opportunities for the young people who most need them and building the state's workforce."

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, 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. For more information, visit the W.K. Kellog Foundation homepage

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey identifies and develops leaders and institutions to meet the nation's critical challenges, working through education. Visit the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship homepage for more information.




Debra Johnson

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