Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Trains Future STEM Teachers

Release Date: 
Jun 12 2013

The following story appeared in the June 11 edition of Inside IUPUI.

Prospective teachers with backgrounds focused in the sciences are in the latest wave of instructors preparing to do their part to bolster student performances in STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as part of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program.

The fellowship program features IUPUI and its higher education partners, Purdue, Ball State and the University of Indianapolis, in providing an accelerated master’s program in education, focusing specifically on training future teachers in how to better prepare Indiana’s high school and middle school students to handle those subjects. The STEM courses often are linked to high-value professional careers. As part of their training, teachers will earn an accelerated master's degree, then work with middle and high school students in high-need public schools.

Woodrow Wilson FellowsSeveral School of Science students are among the latest class of Woodrow Wilson Fellows, dedicated to putting more STEM teachers in the classrooms.

The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship was launched in Indiana in 2007, and began accepting teachers to the program in 2009. This summer, the fifth class of prospective teachers was named, including 30 new fellows from across the state who will go through a yearlong experience in local classrooms and study specific STEM teaching approaches.

The fellows receive a $30,000 stipend to complete the intensive master’s program, and after completion will spend at least three years in a high-need Indiana classroom. They will be given ongoing support and mentoring as part of the program.

The fellowship has been funded with grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. and supplemental state support. The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation of Princeton, N.J., administers the program. It was first launched in Indiana in 2007, and has since been established in three other states: Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey.

IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz believes the Woodrow Wilson program serves people who want to teach, including those who started down a different path but now desire a career change, one that can make a major difference in the lives of Hoosier pupils.

“The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship is a tremendous opportunity for individuals choosing to teach as a second career,” Bantz said. He also considers “it a great partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the State of Indiana and IUPUI to bring talented teachers to Indiana classrooms.”

Kathy Marrs, the director of the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship program at IUPUI, said IUPUI provides unique opportunities with the fellowship initiative.

“Fellows select one of three degree programs -- the M.S. in education, M.S. in mathematics or M.S. in technology education -- and have an additional option for dual certification in special education during their clinical residency year,” she said. “These options allow our fellows to provide a high-quality STEM education to all students, particularly those in high-need schools.”

Woodrow Wilson Fellowship officials estimate that the Indiana program reaches more than 22,000 students throughout the state each year. Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows have been named each year since 2009, representing 226 new teacher candidates for Indiana.

Members of the first three classes are now teaching around the state, with those named in 2012 now ready to enter the classroom on their own. And state officials have given their stamp of approval on the fellowship program by establishing a line item in the state budget to allow the program to continue once the initial national funding has wrapped up.