Making a new commitment… to the classroom

February 28, 2012

Ann Schultz is a Fellow in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship. She is learning to teach biology to ninth-graders in the heart of Detroit, which is, she says, exactly where she wants to be.

When the mother of two teenagers decided to get her teacher certification, it was because she felt a drive to make high quality education available to students who can’t afford the kind of experiences she gave her own children. She had seen how much academic rigor can vary from one community to the next as a child moving with her military family.

So she doesn’t mind driving 45 miles from her home in Whitmore Lake, Mich. to the teaching internship at Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

Or making the trip to Michigan State University for her coursework.

Schultz requested MSU – one of six Michigan universities participating in the new alternative teacher certification program – because she wanted the intensive, full year of student teaching the College of Education is known for.

“I can’t imagine just jumping in by myself without all of the support I have, from the Fellowship itself and from the MSU faculty,” she said.

“I am in the process of the best preparation I could possibly receive.”


Preparing urban teachers

To meet the 2011 W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellows click here.

That preparation began last May, when Michigan State welcomed its first cohort of WKKF-WW Teaching Fellows to campus. Over the summer the diverse group of students developed close relationships with one another as they were immersed in what it means to be a successful teacher, from general pedagogy to understanding the role of race and equity in education.

The Fellowship, which also has been rolled out in Indiana and Ohio, is focused on helping individuals with backgrounds or academic preparation in mathematics or science fields become excellent teachers in high-need school districts. In the case of MSU, the program has been designed specifically to prepare teachers for careers in urban communities.

Schultz and her fellow cohort members were able to begin testing their own prior knowledge and assumptions by interacting with urban students who were participating in the Summer High School Scholars program held by the MSU College of Education each year on campus.

“I never thought about racism as a system of advantages and disadvantages because I had the luxury of not seeing it,” said Schultz, who has a master’s degree in chemical and life science. “And now I see it.”

Like other secondary education interns from MSU, the first WKKF-WW Fellows were placed in Grand Rapids or Detroit public schools this fall for a progressively more responsible teaching experience that lasts the entire school year. Ironically, Schultz landed – after a few logistical moves throughout DPS – in the classroom of one of the first teacher candidates to complete MSU’s full-year internship: Nina (Cook) Ashford. Up to a quarter of their students struggle to get to school on a daily basis and many are learning English as a second language.

“They see a textbook and a lot of vocabulary that’s foreign to them, but it’s exciting for me to be challenged to bring the study of life, basically, to life for them,” Schultz said. “My mentor teacher and I have a dynamic, mutually respectful working relationship. She has really encouraged me to take the lead.”

Once the MSU internship ends this spring, Fellows will complete the additional requirements to obtain the master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum and get their teaching certificate. They will continue to receive mentoring as a benefit of the Fellowship during their first three years as full-time teachers.

The next cohort of WKKF-WW Fellows, which are selected on a competitive basis, will be announced in May 2012.


Sound like you or someone you know??

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship will be recruiting its third cohort starting this summer. The final application deadline will be in January 2013. Visit for more information.