Seven Rowan graduate students to join first cohort of Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows

Seven Rowan graduate students to join first cohort of Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows


Seven graduate students in Rowan University’s College of Education are among the first Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows announced on Tuesday, June 10, by Gov. Chris Christie.

The highly competitive program recruits both recent graduates and career changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math—STEM fields—and prepares them specifically to teach in high-need secondary schools.

“With today’s announcement we are reaffirming our commitment to investing in teacher talent with a new pipeline for recruiting highly qualified teaching candidates and training them so that they can generate the greatest positive learning outcomes for our children,” Christie said.

“By preparing these fellows to be top-quality educators, we will be helping more than 15,000 students to contribute and thrive in a knowledge-based, global, digital economy and workforce.”

Each fellow receives $30,000 to complete a specially designed, cutting-edge master’s degree program based on a year-long classroom experience. In return, fellows commit to teach for three years in urban and rural New Jersey schools that most need strong STEM educators. Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring throughout their three-year commitment.

Currently, students in high-need schools are significantly less likely to have access to strong STEM teachers, state officials say.

“Study after study has shown that the single most important in-school factor in student achievement is access to excellent classroom teachers,” says Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “These fellows are bringing real science and math expertise to the kids who most need them. They’re going to change tens of thousands of lives.”

New Master of Arts in Teaching STEM

All of the teaching fellows at Rowan are graduate students in the new Master of Arts in Teaching STEM program in the College of Education. They will teach in Millville and Vineland.

Rowan is one of five institutions statewide to make significant changes in teacher preparation programs for the Woodrow Wilson fellows. Just as physicians learn in teaching hospitals, fellows will learn to teach in real classrooms from the beginning of their graduate work. Altogether, there are 50 Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows statewide at Rowan, The College of New Jersey, Rutgers University-Camden, Montclair State University and William Paterson University.

The goals of the teaching fellowships are to attract the best candidates to teaching, place strong teachers in high-need schools, cut teacher attrition and retain top teachers, and transform University-based education.

Deep commitment

Those goals resonate in Rowan’s College of Education, says Monika Shealey, the college’s dean.

“The goal of the College of Education is to prepare and support reflective practitioners to use education to transform our global society,” says Shealey. “The Woodrow Wilson Fellows Program represents an opportunity for our college to join a network of institutions across the country dedicated to preparing and supporting teacher candidates to respond to the pressing needs of P-12 schools, particularly in the STEM areas.

“This is work that we are deeply committed to in the College of Education.”

New Jersey is now one of five states participating in the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships. The first fellows were named in 2009 in Indiana.

“Ultimately, we aim not only to prepare excellent teachers for a long-term career, but also to change the way all New Jersey teachers are prepared for real classroom challenges,” Levine says.

The program is supported to date by a consortium of New Jersey funders, headed by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, with initial funding of $10.6 million. Other funders include M. Brian and Sandy Maher, the Overdeck Family Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Jennifer Chalsty, the Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies Association (DCAT), the Educational Testing Service, the Fournier Family Foundation, Inc., the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Judy Lewent, Al Merck, the PSEG Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Schumann Fund for New Jersey, the William E. Simon Foundation, the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, Helmut Weymar, and the Wright Foundation.

Rowan's Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows

Rowan’s Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows include:

Jeffrey Chiusano of Cherry Hill. A 2014 physics alumnus from The College of New Jersey, Chiusano will teach physics at Millville High School.

Drew Favat of Gibbsboro. Favat earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Rowan in May. He will teach eighth-grade math at Rossi Intermediate School in Vineland.

Bethany Fowler of Uvalde, Texas. Fowler just completed her master’s degree in mathematics from Arizona State University. She also holds an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics from the University of Texas, earned in 2012. She will teach math and engineering at Millville High School.

Daniel Klehamer of Avenel. Klehamer, who earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Rowan in May, will teach physics to juniors and seniors at Vineland High School.

Leslie Tolentino of Bronx, NY. A 2014 mathematics graduate of the University of Albany, Tolentino will teach eighth-grade math at Lakeside Middle School in Millville.

Christopher Tomlinson of Chatsworth. Tomlinson graduated from Rowan in 2010 with his bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. In 2012, he earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He’ll teach math to ninth- and tenth-graders at Vineland High School.

Matthew Zachariades of Egg Harbor Township. Zachariades completed his mathematics degree in May from High Point University. He will teach eighth-grade algebra at Lakeside Middle School in Millville.