Ball State is participating in a $10.1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to support an Indiana program intended to help overhaul teacher education and encourage exceptional teacher candidates to seek long-term careers in high-need classrooms.
It is among the first sites chosen by The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for an eventual national fellowship for high school science and math teachers.
The Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship - launched at a Dec. 19 news conference in Indianapolis by foundation and endowment officials, along with Gov. Mitch Daniels - will provide fellows with a $30,000 stipend to complete a year-long master's program at one of four selected Indiana universities: Ball State, Purdue University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and the University of Indianapolis. Fellows are then placed in a high-need urban or rural school that has committed to provide ongoing mentoring and, in turn, each agrees to teach in Indiana for three years.
"The time is right for this effort, and the need is great," said Sara B. Cobb, vice president for education at Lilly Endowment. "We are pleased that four of Indiana's top schools of education are committed to work with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation to recruit excellent candidates and enhance their educational programs so that they focus more on student learning.
"We look forward to seeing the eventual impact of the new approaches on the students they teach."
Fellowships will be open to college seniors and career-changers from around the nation who boast outstanding undergraduate records and majors in math or science, and who also are willing to teach in Indiana.
Initially the program will prepare 80 new Indiana math and science teachers each year, or roughly one-quarter of the total number of teachers the state is now preparing in those fields. According to Foundation officials, aspirations are to eventually scale up to prepping 400 new teachers per year.
Provost Terry King represented Ball State at the joint announcement and called the university's selection to be a partner in the initiative another indication of its leadership and innovation.
"Ball State was founded as a teachers' academy more than a century ago, so our campus always has been a place where the training of educators has been important," noted King. "Throughout its history, the university consistently has explored new methods for training teachers and school leaders, as everything from our electronic field trips to establishing the only Indiana laboratory school to providing an immersive learning experience for every student shows.
"We look forward to our involvement in this new teaching fellowship program and to working with two of the leading philanthropic organizations in the country, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Lilly Endowment."
As Ball State's chief academic officer, King has played a pivotal role in guiding the university's efforts to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education through the university's ongoing development of young teachers.
As explained by Foundation officials, the Indiana fellowship has four goals:
Transform teacher education - not just for Fellows but also for the universities that prepare them, other teacher candidates in the same programs, and the high-need schools where they are placed as teachers;
Get strong teachers into high-need schools. Indiana has chosen to focus on attracting math and science teachers, though other states may later choose different subject areas;
Attract the very best candidates to teaching through a fellowship with a well-known name and high visibility, similar to a National Merit Scholarship; and
Cut teacher attrition and retain top teachers through intensive clinical preparation and ongoing in-school mentoring, provided by veteran teachers and supported by able principals.
"Indiana was selected as the lead state for launching this fellowship because of the commitment to education shown by the governor and other state leaders, strong support for the program within the state's philanthropic and business communities, and the willingness of leading universities, as well as local school superintendents, to advance exemplary approaches to teacher preparation," said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, who led a multi-year study on needed improvements in teacher education.
The participating universities will introduce new curriculum and outcome measures anchored by supervised clinical experience and ongoing mentoring in schools. Each will receive 20 fellows a year and work with schools to support their graduates and track their effectiveness over time.
The host institutions also will lodge responsibility for the teaching fellowship in the provost's office and promote close partnerships between their teacher education programs and their colleges of arts and sciences.
Applications for the first Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowships will be available in fall 2008, with Fellows to be named in spring 2009. In the interim, the selected universities will enhance their teacher education programs as necessary to meet Woodrow Wilson's standards for Fellows' preparation.
"Schools are only as good as the teachers who serve in them," observed David Haselkorn, senior fellow at Woodrow Wilson, who directs the Foundation's teaching fellowships. "This is a new strategy to ensure excellence in teaching, the profession that shapes America's future."
By Kevin Burke, Director