Eleven career changers and recent graduates were tapped this summer as elite Woodrow Wilson Fellows at The University of Akron (UA). These top-quality teacher candidates, who come from around the state, will prepare to teach math and science in high-need Ohio schools.
UA has the distinction of welcoming nine of the eleven Fellows back to their hometown of Akron. The extra-special piece of this cohort is that two are married to each other!
Matthew and Jessica York, of Akron, were accepted into the UA program as its first married couple. The Yorks, both biologists, are looking forward to the Fellowship to make them better educators as well as better people.
“My mother was the first person to tell me about the Fellowship. She has always said she was just waiting for me to figure out that I was meant to be a teacher,” says Jessica.
Matthew saw a posting to apply for the Fellowship in 2012 and was interested, but due to a hectic schedule, didn’t apply. After a few more missed opportunities to apply for the Fellowship, the couple saw that the Foundation was opening up applications in January 2013. They jumped at the chance to apply.
The Yorks met through a family friend in 2010 in Frisco, NC. Both had similar backgrounds and interests: biology and a love for nature. In the summer of 2011, they were engaged where they met and were married the following year on May 26, 2012.
Jessica’s inspiration for the Fellowship flows, in part, from her mother, who made a career change from the STEM field to becoming a teacher in a high-needs urban school district. Jessica’s own move from a rural school district to Akron Public Schools during her sophomore year also helped to drive her desire to become a teacher.
Matt was born and raised in Akron and has a legacy of teaching in his family – both his father and grandfather were natural and passionate leaders, says Matt. His hope is to be an advocate for educational reform and to help improve educational standards.
The Woodrow Wilson Ohio Teaching Fellowship recruits accomplished career changers and outstanding recent college graduates in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (the STEMM fields) to teach these subjects in high-need Ohio schools.
Each Fellow will receive a $30,000 stipend to complete an intensive master’s-level teacher education program. After their preparation, Fellows commit to teach for at least three years in a high-need Ohio school, with ongoing support and mentoring.
Since the program’s inception in 2010, 219 Fellows have been named in Ohio. The Fellows to date will have a projected impact on the lives of at least 22,000 students each year.