Richmond receives community engagement award

February 10, 2015
(Left) Alycia Meriweather, Detroit Public Schools; (Middle) Gail Richmond; (Right) Tom Bordenkircher, Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Photo courtesy of Communications and Brand Strategy.

(Left) Alycia Meriweather, Detroit Public Schools; (Middle) Gail Richmond; (Right) Tom Bordenkircher, Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Photo courtesy of Communications and Brand Strategy.

Each year, university and community partners are selected to jointly receive the Community Engagement Scholarship Award at the Michigan State University All-University Awards. This year’s recipient is Department of Teacher Education Associate Professor Gail Richmond.

The long-standing partnership between Richmond and Detroit Public Schools (DPS) is one of many Richmond has centering around powerful and meaningful science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. DPS is one of the largest partners for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship at MSU. This program is an opportunity for individuals with degrees in STEM to learn to teach math or science in high-poverty schools. Together, Richmond and DPS have identified mentor teachers for selected Fellows to establish professional support for the beginning teachers during their internship experience and first years on the job.

This is the fourth year in a row that a College of Education faculty member has won the Community Engagement Scholarship Award, previously known as the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award.

“The impact of education is enormous. It can change lives, it can change communities,” Richmond said. “As teachers, we’re responsible for preparing children for the future … making them want to be better educated, to go to school, to prepare for a productive life. It is our duty to show kids their potential–and how they have the potential to make a difference. We need to build hope.”

The STEM teaching fellowship led by Richmond builds on the strengths of the main Teacher Preparation Program at MSU, in which candidates have a full-year teaching internship prior to certification. The collaboration between Richmond and DPS utilizes course- and field-based preparation, in addition to workshops, mini-grants and a partnership with induction coaches to support beginning teachers during their first three years. The result is something that can have a massive impact. High-poverty areas are especially susceptible to high teacher-turnover, and with the support and education Richmond’s program provides, the new STEM teachers are more likely to stay, and more likely to make a difference in their students and their greater communities.

“We need to appreciate that beginning teachers are just that–beginners. We need to help support them, because you can’t think about changing communities without thinking about how to facilitate that change,” Richmond said. “If I can have a teacher feel as though they’re making a difference, that’s huge.”

Along with Detroit, Richmond helps support Fellows teaching in high-poverty schools in urban and rural communities across the state, including Escanaba, Fife Lake, Grand Rapids and Jackson, among others. While there are no new cohorts in the Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship after this year, MSU and DPS are committed to supporting the current Fellows for the first three years of their teaching careers. A similar program, the Supporting Early-Career Teachers of Science through Urban Partnerships (SETS-UP) fellowship, was established and builds upon the Woodrow Wilson program. To learn more about SETS-UP, watch this video.

In addition to her work with beginning and mentor teachers around Michigan, Richmond is also committed to teaching high school students the importance of STEM education. For 26 years, Richmond has been director of High School Honors Science, Math and Engineering Program (HSHSP), a national summer program that provides 650 students who are entering the 12th grade with research guidance, skills to master research proposals and more in a university environment.

To Richmond, the Community Engagement Scholarship Award is more than just a celebration of one collaboration or project, but a commitment to a lifetime of work in education, STEM and communities.

Previous College of Education recipients of the award include Randi Stanulis (2007), Angela Calabrese Barton (2012), Daniel Gould (2013) and Dorinda Carter Andrews (2014).