QUEENS COLLEGE NAMED FIRST PARTNER UNIVERSITY
FOR NEW “MATH FOR AMERICA” PROGRAM
—Newton Fellowships Designed to Add Exceptional Math Teachers to City Schools—
NEW YORK, April 21, 2004 -- New York City faces a severe shortage of qualified math teachers. But now Queens College and the Math for America Foundation (MfA) have found a new way to bring mathematically gifted individuals into public high schools through the foundation’s newly created Newton Fellowships.
The competitive fellowship offers education, support, and financial incentives to encourage individuals to become math teachers. Newton Fellows receive a full scholarship to a graduate education program, a five-year stipend of $65,000, and support services such as mentoring and professional development. Queens College was chosen as the first Partner University to train Newton Fellows, who will enroll in an intensive teacher-preparation program that leads to an MS degree in Mathematics Education; New York University was subsequently added as a Partner University. The fellowship program is the brainchild of James Simons, president of the Math for America Foundation, and was designed with the help of Professor Alice Artzt of Queens College.
At Queens College, the Fellows will conduct their fieldwork and student teach in high schools that offer strong support services to help them start a successful career. They will work in Region 9, four districts encompassing most of Manhattan and a small part of the Bronx.
Simons, who also is president of Renaissance Technologies Corporation, formerly taught at MIT and Harvard and was chairman of SUNY Stony Brook’s Math Department. It was his idea to seek out mathematically sophisticated individuals to teach in the city schools.
Artzt will advise Newton Fellows at Queens College, along with Professor Nick Metas, a math department colleague. A pioneer in new methods of educating math teachers, Artzt is director of Undergraduate and Graduate Secondary Mathematics Education at Queens College and founding director of TIME 2000, an undergraduate math teaching scholarship program unique to Queens College.
The Newton Fellowship recognizes the economic realities of teaching, which can cause mathematically talented individuals to turn to more lucrative careers. Thus, the fellowship combines both long-term financial support and services to help new teachers through their first difficult years. As Artzt explains, “We’re giving them the full student teaching that will provide the best classroom preparation. Graduates not only get jobs but they are also mentored. With this program, the likelihood that they will drop out of teaching is greatly reduced.”
This spring over 50 men and women—both recent college graduates and mid-career professionals—applied to become Newton Fellows. Candidates must meet rigorous standards, including demonstrated evidence of mathematical ability and the likelihood of becoming a strong teacher. The first Fellows will be announced in May and some will begin the program this summer at either Queens College or New York University, where they must also meet regular admissions standards. A total of 20 Fellows are expected to be chosen by August 1.
For the Newton Fellows, the stakes are high. The first year involves intensive teacher preparation and mathematics courses, ending with initial certification; Fellows will receive a $25,000 stipend over this period. During the first four years of teaching, they will receive the base salary of a new teacher and will also receive an annual stipend of $10,000 from Math for America. Finally, they will continue with coursework to obtain a Master’s degree and permanent certification. Tuition, fees, and health insurance will be covered by Math for America.
Artzt expects this pilot program to grow and serve as a model for others, an enthusiasm shared by James Simons. “Queens was accepted as our first Partner University because it has an excellent teacher preparation program,” he says. “With the support of these fellowships, they will be educating very high-quality candidates for New York City classrooms.”