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My Town Holland: Two recent Hope College grads Named Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellows | People

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My Town Holland: Two recent Hope College grads Named Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellows
People, Schools
My Town Holland: Two recent Hope College grads Named Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellows

HOLLAND, Mich.-- Two members of Hope College’s graduating class of 2014 have been named 2014 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellows.

Alexandra Benson of Alpena and Grace Blank of Three Rivers are among 43 teacher candidates introduced at the Michigan State Capitol by Governor Rick Snyder on Wednesday, June 11.

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.

“Michigan needs to develop talent for in-demand jobs so our students are best prepared for long and productive careers,” Snyder said.  “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. The institutions provide Fellows a full year of experience in local classrooms, as well as specific teaching approaches for the STEM fields.

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.

Benson, who majored in chemistry at Hope, will attend Wayne State University.  Her activities as a student included participating in research, serving as a laboratory teaching assistant, the Chemistry Club and the Mortar Board honorary society.  She is the daughter of Jon and Jacqueline Benson of Alpena, and a 2010 graduate of Alpena High School.

Blank, who majored in chemistry and sociology at Hope, will attend the University of Michigan.  Her activities as a student included participating in research, serving as a laboratory teaching assistant, the Chemistry Club and serving as an academic coach with TRiO Upward Bound.  She is the daughter of Dr. Paul and Sara Blank of Three Rivers, and a 2010 graduate of Hackett Catholic Central High School.

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.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; internationally they are located in Mexico and Haiti. More information is available at wkkf.org.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey (woodrow.org) identifies and develops leaders to meet the nation’s most critical challenges. In 1945, the Foundation was created to meet the challenge of preparing a new generation of college professors. Today Woodrow Wilson offers a suite of fellowships to address national needs, including the education of teachers and school leaders.

People, Schools