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President Obama highlights Michigan education program to improve preparation of math and science teachers

Contact: Kathy Reincke, WKKF Communications
(269)969-2079 office; (269)274-5445 mobile

WASHINGTON — Today as part of a White House event celebrating the importance of teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education, President Barack Obama highlighted the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship as a model effort to inspire students to excel in math and science.

“America’s leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today, especially in science, math and engineering,” said President Obama. “That’s why I’m pleased to announce the expansion of our “Educate to Innovate” campaign today and applaud the several new partnerships launched that will help meet our goal of moving American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade.”

The president recognized the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship as one of the new partners of the “Educate to Innovate” campaign.

Also announced today are the six universities that have been selected to participate in the Fellowship program — University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, and Wayne State University.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded Fellowship program provides promising future teachers with an exemplary, intensive master’s degree program in education and places those Fellows in hard-to-staff middle and high schools for a minimum of three years. The Fellowship will prepare 240 teachers for two years beginning in 2011. Through this program, approximately 90,000 students will receive high-quality instruction in the critical subject areas of STEM from Fellows during their first three years in the classroom. 

Joining the president today at the event were Dr. Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and a respected expert on teacher education, and Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Mr. Speirn said the Fellowship program is in keeping with the Kellogg Foundation’s mission to improve learning conditions for vulnerable children, especially in its home state of Michigan, where there are enormous challenges.
“At the Kellogg Foundation, we look to support innovative partnerships that will help create the kinds of schools that all children deserve,” he said. “Strengthening students’ skills in math and science is necessary to strengthen our state – and nation’s — economy.”

Dr. Levine said, “America’s schools of education are being asked to rise to the challenge of preparing a new generation of teachers — educators who can teach the most diverse population of students in the nation’s history to meet the highest standards ever demanded by our schools.”

President Obama’s focus on this issue comes as the Kellogg Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation announce the six Michigan universities and the five school districts selected to participate in the program. Last fall, the Kellogg Foundation announced its $16.7 million grant establishing the WKKF-WW Michigan Teaching Fellowship.

As noted above, the six universities are:

  • University of Michigan
  • Michigan State University
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Western Michigan University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Wayne State University

The five school districts are:




 Battle Creek Public Schools

 Benton Harbor Public Schools

 Detroit Public Schools

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Kalamazoo Public Schools

“Improving the quality of math and science instruction in our schools is critical if we are to reach our goal of having one of the best-educated workforces on the planet,” said Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm. “This fellowship will be transformational for our students, teachers and universities.”

WKKF_WW Granholm

Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation President Arthur Levine (left to right) and W.K. Kellogg Foundation President and CEO Sterling Speirn look on as Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm talks to media about the six Michigan universities and five school districts that will participate in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship

Several factors were considered as part of the process of selecting the universities, including:

  • Commitment to the goals and standards of the Fellowship
  • Capacity to establish a world-class math and science teacher education program
  • Existing relationships between the universities and surrounding urban or rural school districts

These universities will begin important changes over the next 21 months as they redesign their teacher education programs in science and math. They will create a collaborative relationship between the schools of arts and sciences and education, and when appropriate, engineering. Instead of simply adding a pilot project, these model math and science teacher education programs will completely replace the existing programs and will be sustained for years to come.

As part of their commitment to the program, these universities will match a $500,000 enrichment grant from the Kellogg Foundation that can be used to hire new faculty, contract with consultants, purchase equipment or make other changes that are necessary for this transformation to take place. In addition, the universities will each receive $6,000 per Fellow which will be used to provide the new teachers with mentoring during their first three years in the classroom.

The Fellows, who will be announced in the spring of 2011, will receive a $30,000 stipend while they complete the program. They will study a curriculum that is rooted in subject matter, but that also covers adolescent development and learning, working with parents and communities, and classroom management. 

Beginning in fall 2012, the first team of Fellows will be placed in one of the five school districts selected and receive intensive support and mentoring to encourage them to continue teaching as a long-term career. Marks of success for the Fellowship program will be the Fellows’ retention in teaching as well as student learning outcomes in the Fellows’ classrooms.

Working in partnership, the university and school district leaders will identify the middle and high schools where the Fellows are to gain extensive, supervised field experience—the same kinds of high-need schools in which the Fellows will teach when they complete their year-long program.

The Fellows can be college seniors, recent graduates or career changers. The current market downturn in Michigan has forced many experienced engineers and professionals out of the workforce, making available a talented pool of workers who can share their knowledge and depth of experience with the state’s students in formal learning settings.
Note: Interested Fellowship applicants contact wwteachingfellowships@woodrow.org.

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