With the help of nearly $9 million in support from a consortium of private foundations in the state, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has announced the launch of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship.
Created by the Princeton-based Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the program aims to recruit and prepare top college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to teach in high-need schools, with the ultimate goal of transforming the way teacher candidates in the state are trained. In partnership with twelve New Jersey school districts, five institutions of higher education — the College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Rowan University, Rutgers University-Camden, and William Paterson University — will develop model master's-level teacher preparation programs in which Wilson fellows spend a year in local classrooms. In exchange for committing to teach in a high-need urban or rural New Jersey school for three years, fellows also will receive a $30,000 stipend and ongoing mentoring.
Over the next eighteen to twenty-one months, the participating universities will design their programs. The first fellows will be selected in the spring of 2014, start their academic programs in the fall, and be ready to teach in the fall of 2015. The $9 million in funding will enable the institutions to enroll ten fellows a year, and matching grants will support further development of their respective programs. Foundations and individuals funding the effort include the Geraldine R. Dodge, Overdeck Family, Robert Wood Johnson, PSEG, JPMorgan Chase, and William E. Simon foundations; the Schumann Fund for New Jersey; Jennifer A. Chalsty; and M. Brian and Sandy Maher.
"Study after study shows that teachers are the single most important in-school factor in improving student achievement," said Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation president Arthur Levine. "New Jersey overproduces elementary school teachers but underproduces middle- and high-school STEM teachers, and 30 to 40 percent of New Jersey teachers leave the profession during their first three years in the classroom — more in high-need districts. So there's a genuine need for these new teachers and for innovative preparation that will help keep them in the classroom."