Program trains teachers for high-need areas
Rochell Mahaley received her Bachelor of Science in animal science at MSU and a master’s from the veterinary medical school at MSU. And now she’s back for more.
Mahaley is one of 11 students involved in the second cohort of W.K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows at MSU.
“The main purpose is to increase the quality and the quantity of math and science teachers for high-need schools,” Dr. Connie Bond, vice president for the fellowship, said. “To work with universities to help them improve the way they prepare math and science teachers.”
The second cohort began May 20. MSU’s first fellow cohort started at the beginning of summer 2011 and currently includes nine fellows.
Mahaley, who comes from a family of several teachers, said she enjoys the diversity of backgrounds of the fellows in the program and has enjoyed the classes so far.
The program runs over a course of four years and includes two summers of classes, with a teaching residence in between in high-need urban areas, and three years of teaching with online courses, Dr. Gail Richmond, associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education and director and co-principle investigator of MSU’s fellow program, said the program is focused on individuals and teachers within STEM fields, or science, technology, engineering and math.
“I really want more of the minority students to know they can succeed,” Mahaley said, adding that as a minority herself, there weren’t many role models she could relate to. “If I can persuade (minorities) to make a decision to go to college, then that’s the greatest goal for me.”
Bond said this year’s cohort consists of 64 fellows across Michigan. The fellowship receives 2,017 applications a year, and there currently are 222 fellows across three states.
“It gives us a little bit of an advantage,” Greg Smith, an MSU alumnus in the first cohort, said. “(The fellowship) brings some element of prestige with the name.”
Bond said the program started in 2008 in Indiana and has since spread to Michigan and Ohio and is looking at including several more states in the near future, she said.
Each fellow receives $30,000 through the foundation, but much of that money goes toward the cost of tuition.
Richmond said MSU’s program focuses on high-need urban areas that need STEM teachers. The program also supports students through the program during their first three years as an educator, which Richmond says is the most common time teachers choose to leave the field.
“We want to attract the most highly qualified teachers to the profession and keep them there,” Richmond said.
For Mahaley, the long journey that began just one month ago already has been rewarding.
“It’s just an amazing program,” she said. “ I couldn’t ask for better … I encourage others to be a part as well.”