New Jersey will be first east coast-state to launch the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship — a program focused on creating more science and technology teachers. The fellowship is the signature program of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation based on Vaughn Drive.

The program grants $30,000 fellowships to college graduates and people changing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to complete a master’s program at participating universities. In return, fellows commit to teach for at least three years in a “high-need” secondary urban or rural school in the state where they complete their master’s degree and obtain teacher certification. The first fellows will be selected in spring 2014, start their academic programs in the fall, and be ready to teach in fall 2015.

The fellowship begins with almost $9 million in support from support from funders including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, M. Brian and Sandy Maher, the Overdeck Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the PSE&G Foundation, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, the Schumann Fund for New Jersey, Educational Testing Service, the William E. Simon Foundation, and Jennifer A. Chalsty.

“We are taking an important step to ensure our teachers are prepared before they are placed in high-need schools,” said Governor Chris Christie, who announced the New Jersey Fellowship on December 7.

The five learning institutions participating in the program are the College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Rowan University, Rutgers University-Camden, and William Paterson University. Fellows will go through a one-year program in local school classrooms, a clinically based approach similar to that of medical schools.

School districts providing clinical experience for the teaching fellows include Trenton, Ewing, Lawrence, and New Brunswick, which will work with TCNJ. A total of 12 school districts are involved in the program statewide.

Current funding will enable the participating colleges and universities to enroll 10 fellows per year initially. The institutions will receive matching grants to redevelop their teacher preparation programs based on standards set by the foundation.

The Foundation is also seeking additional partners and funders to expand the program, says Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “If the program is able to expand to its eventual $13.6 million target it will produce enough fellows to fill nearly all anticipated STEM vacancies in the 12 participating districts.”

Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 5 Vaughn Drive, Suite 300, CN 5281, Princeton 08543-5281; 609-452-7007; fax, 609-452-0066. Arthur E. Levine, president. www.woodrow.org.

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