Two University of North Georgia (UNG) graduates have been selected as 2016 Woodrow Wilson Georgia STEM Teaching Fellows.
Rachel Hastreiter, who earned a math degree from UNG in May, and Catherine Harvey who earned a math degree in December 2015, were both introduced by Georgia officials earlier this month as part of the national teaching fellowship program designed to close achievement gaps and provide highly qualified instructors for all students.
The highly competitive program recruits both recent graduates and career changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and prepares them specifically to teach in high-need secondary schools.
As STEM Teaching Fellows, Hastreiter and Harvey will receive complete tuition waivers as well as a $30,000 stipend to use while pursuing master’s degree in a teaching program. In return for their fellowship, each student has committed to teach in a high-need urban or rural school in Georgia for three years, with ongoing mentoring.
Hastreiter will be pursuing her master’s degree at Georgia State University and Harvey will be pursuing her master’s degree at Mercer University. They are the third and fourth UNG graduates to have been selected for this teaching fellowship. Last year, Christy Stromberg and James Herndon were selected as part of the inaugural cohort of the Georgia program.
"There is a nationwide shortage of STEM teachers, and they can be discouraged from teaching at high-need schools," said Patrick Riccards, spokesman for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. STEM teachers in metro areas have more options, he said, but in a rural area, the needs are greater. "So you may not only be the chemistry teacher, but also the life sciences teacher, and coach a sport, because that’s what the schools need," Riccards said.
Sixty students from five Georgia colleges and universities make up the second fellowship class of the national program funded by the foundation. Georgia was selected as the fifth state — and first Southern state — to participate in the national fellowship program in 2014. The initial group of 50 fellows began the program last fall. Gov. Nathan Deal has touted the program as a way to better prepare students for the jobs available and coming to the state, along with the state's efforts to produce 20,000 new teachers by 2020.
Students interested in applying for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship or learning more about nationally competitive scholarships should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.