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Fellowships produce top-notch STEM teachers

David Johnson - WWUIndy Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellow David Johnson teaches math at Lynhurst 7th & 8th Grade Center on Indianapolis’ west side.

As UIndy’s Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship program begins its sixth year of preparing math and science teachers for underserved Indiana schools, its numbers tell a tale of success.

The program is aimed at recent graduates and career-changers from STEM-related fields. The fellows undergo an intensive one-year master’s degree program that, from the very beginning, places them in local schools for observation and supervised student teaching. The UIndy fellows undergo rigorous coursework – developed collaboratively by the School of Education and the College of Arts & Sciences – and emerge with a three-year commitment to teach math or science in a high-need urban or rural school.


Of the 51 fellows who completed the program in its first four years, all found teaching jobs upon graduation, and 45 of them taught in local schools this past year, says UIndy program director Deborah Sachs. Almost half of them work at schools that partner in the program by hosting student teachers or site visits. Of the seven graduates from the most recent fifth cohort, six already are employed for the fall.

“Our fellows are highly sought after by administrators, who say they are not typical first-year teachers,” Sachs says.

Graduates of the WWITF program also are more likely to remain in the teaching profession than the average beginning teacher. A recent national survey found that only 70 percent of teachers continue in the profession after their first year in the classroom. In contrast, 97 percent of UIndy’s WWITF graduates remain for a second year and 87 percent remain for a third year of teaching.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation initially launched the program at a handful of Indiana colleges, where it has been funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and supplemental state support. The program has since been established in four other states.

The new, sixth cohort of UIndy Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows was announced in June at a Statehouse meeting with Gov. Mike Pence.

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