Earlier this month, Penn joined the new Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program, which intends to train teachers in STEM and employ them in underserved schools in Pennsylvania.
Participants in the program will each receive $32,000 to pursue a STEM-focused master's degree program before going on to gain a year of experience in a classroom. After completing their degrees, fellows in the program will be required to teach in one of the Pennsylvania school districts currently in need of STEM teachers, which includes public schools in Pittsburgh, McKeesport Area, Penn Hills, Woodland Hills, and Philadelphia.
The program is also being implemented by universities in a total of five states. In Pennsylvania, Penn is joined by two other schools: West Chester University and Duquesne University.
On Sept. 7, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) and President of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Arthur Levine announced the implementation of the program in Pennsylvania.
“Through the Pennsylvania Teaching Fellowship Program, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation will now help the state construct new pipelines of aspiring educators with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math, all committed to teaching in Pennsylvania’s high-need communities,” Levine said.
This is not the first time Penn has attempted innovation in training high school STEM teachers. In 2000, Penn’s Chemistry Department and the Graduate School of Education partnered to create a Masters of Chemistry Education program. The program is primarily focused on educating high school chemistry teachers who did not necessarily have an undergraduate background in chemistry.
In March 2017, Penn’s GSE lost a contract to train new Philadelphia school teachers after the School Reform Commission chose to grant the contract with Relay Graduate School of Education, an institution not accredited to award master’s degrees in Pennsylvania.
A spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia said in an email that, at the time, the high price of Penn's GSE would’ve cost residents $23,000 out-of-pocket, while the Relay GSE was set to be free for residents, allowing it to recruit a larger and more diverse pool of applicants.
Pennsylvania will become the sixth state after Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio to implement the fellowship, which has seen 1,200 teachers receive training through the program and expects another 108 in Pennsylvania over the next three years.
The new fellows are expected to enroll beginning in summer 2019.