STEM Teachers Can “Change Lives, Bring Opportunity”
The below remarks were delivered by Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine at a New Jersey Statehouse Ceremony on June 15 to honor the 2016–17 Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows.
We have assembled to celebrate the 2016 class of Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows, the third such cohort, 62 men and women who will educate the highest need children in the state in the most understaffed subjects — STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)
But first I have the honor and privilege of introducing our host, the person whose strong support made the Fellowship possible in this state, the 55th governor of New Jersey, the honorable Chris Christie.
Governor Christie has long been an advocate for STEM and STEM education. From the start of his administration, he made STEM a priority, an essential, in building the state’s economy. The governor has been a champion for schools that will prepare all of New Jersey’s children for the 21st century global, digital, information economy and the excellent teachers required to accomplish this.
This day is five years in the making.it began with a state whose future is rooted in the quality of its schools and a governor who believes educational improvement an imperative. New Jersey embraced a program operating in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio that recruited extraordinarily talented people, high achievers with undergraduate STEM degrees, college graduates and career changers, willing to spend a year preparing to become teachers and then after graduation to spend a minimum of three years teaching the children in the high need urban and rural districts that need them the most.
It depended on five outstanding universities committed to creating model stem teacher education programs to guide the state and the nation — the College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Rowan University, Rutgers University-Camden, and William Paterson University. Their efforts focus on programs that are clinically based and integrated with course work, provide three years of mentorship for each prospective teacher, and establish meaningful partnerships between K-12 schools and both the colleges and education and arts & sciences at each university.
Twenty partner school districts across New Jersey are working with these universities to build these new pathways for STEM educators. These districts include: Bridgeton, Burlington, Camden, Clifton, Ewing Township, Glassboro, Gloucester, Hamilton, Millville, Newark, New Brunswick, Orange, Passaic City, Paterson, Pemberton Township, Pennsauken, Trenton, Union City, Vineland, and Willingboro.
This program would not have been possible without the tremendous coalition of New Jersey funders, led by Chris Daggett, the president of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Other essential funders include: The Overdeck Family Foundation , M. Brian and Sandy Maher, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Fournier Family Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Educational Testing Service, Al Merck, Jennifer Chalsty, DCAT, JP Morgan Chase Foundation ,Judy Lewent, PSEG Foundation, Schumann Fund for New Jersey, William E. Simon Foundation, Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, Hearst Foundation, Victoria Foundation, Bob Johnston , Helmut Weymar, and the Wright Foundation.
There are many people and organizations who have made today possible, including Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks, who has been instrumental in shaping this program, along with Commissioner of Education David Hespe, State Board of Education President Mark Biedron, legislators on both sides of the aisle, and the New Jersey Education Association. Your leadership and commitment to the children of New Jersey is just incredible.
Today we unveil the most tangible measure of their accomplishment, the 2016 New Jersey Teaching Fellows. These Fellows offer extraordinary records, including sky-high grades and a passel of honors.
Twenty-five percent of this year’s class have done advanced graduate work, with master’s degrees in subjects such as biomedical engineering, radiation biophysics, and environmental biology. One has earned a Ph.D., another holds and M.D., and two have law degrees. This year’s class includes those who have just completed their undergraduate degrees, as well as those who are coming from careers at hospitals, in the Peace Corps, with the Red Cross, and even with the Staten Island Zoo.
Demographically, a third of this year’s New Jersey Teaching Fellows are men, and a third are of color, twice the national average for teachers.
For 70 years, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has been awarding fellowships. The recipients have won 14 Nobel prizes, 35 MacArthur Genius Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, Fields Medals, and even an Academy Award.
However, there is no group of which we are prouder than our Teaching Fellows, not simply because of their extraordinary accomplishments and credentials, but because they are going to change lives and bring opportunity to kids who desperately need them and build a better tomorrow for them.
Governor Christie, on behalf of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, I am pleased to present you the 2016 class of New Jersey Teaching Fellows.