JSU alum named Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellow

JSU graduate Walter Mathis

JSU graduate Walter Mathis

(Lansing, Mich.) — Jackson State University chemistry graduate Walter Mathis was recently named one of 43 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellows for 2014.

Mathis, a Detroit native who will attend Wayne State University for graduate school, is high school math teacher and formerly a substitute math and science teacher and an undergraduate computational and analytical researcher. He is a professional member of the American Chemical Society and the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship recruits accomplished career changers and outstanding recent college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (the STEM fields). The 2014 Fellows are the fourth class of new teacher candidates to be prepared through the program since the fellowship was launched in Michigan in 2010.

Mathis joins other outstanding teacher candidates including a longtime engineer who mentors new mothers, a physicist who has worked with superconductors at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a Ph.D. studying environmental toxins in low-income communities. The fellows will prepare to teach in Michigan’s high-need secondary schools.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder introduced the fellows at the Michigan State Capitol on June 11.

“Michigan needs to develop talent for in-demand jobs so our students are best prepared for long and productive careers,” Snyder said in his remarks.  “The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation should be commended for working to train people, many with experience in the STEM fields, to work in our urban schools, where they will share their knowledge as well as become an inspiration to young students.”

Each fellow will receive a $30,000 stipend while completing an intensive master’s-level teacher education program at a participating Michigan university, including Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. These institutions have committed and continue to commit to provide fellows a full year of experience in local classrooms, as well as specific teaching approaches for the STEM fields — a clinically intensive model still rare in university-based teacher preparation.

Michigan school districts in which the fellows undertake clinical practice include Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Comstock, Detroit, Godwin Heights, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Lincoln, and Ypsilanti. These districts partner with the participating universities to offer fellows practical experience.

Since the program’s inception in 2010, 239 fellows have been named in Michigan. After their preparation, fellows commit to teach for at least three years in a high-need Michigan school, with ongoing support and mentoring. The fellows to date will have a projected eventual impact on the lives of more than 20,000 students each year.

“We take tremendous pride in these fellows,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, which administers the program. “They are accomplished people, they are passionate about the STEM fields, and they are deeply committed to young people. They will change countless lives, and the campuses and districts they are working with are changing the way teachers are prepared.”

The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship was launched in Michigan with $18 million in support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Other participating states include Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, and Georgia. In each state, gubernatorial leadership and statewide coalition-building have been key to the creation of the program, as has a blend of private and public support. Several additional states are in discussion with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation about creating their own programs, said Levine.

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