By ERIN ROLL
Some Montclair science teachers who had an opportunity to work with their peers on a fellowship project for science educators are beginning to see the fruits of their labors.
For four years, Montclair State University has participated in the Wipro Science Educator Fellowship program, which aims to help K-12 science educators improve their work in the classroom. Three years ago, the university invited its first group of teachers, representing five districts, to participate.
That first group of teachers has completed the three-year cycle, and were honored with special awards during the June 7 Montclair BOE meeting.
Montclair High School teachers Joyce Weeg and Owen Ambrose were among the first cohort of teachers, which also included Edgemont teacher Gloria Lepari.
The second cohort included Montclair teachers Alyson Wasko, Susan Bermeo, Susan Eckert, Emma McKeon and Delia Maloy.
Weeg teaches ninth-grade biology and Ambrose teaches special education. They set to work on a project to use case studies — real-life examples of topics that are covered in textbooks — to get their students more interested in science. “We wanted to shift the instructional approach from memorization to a more practical applied knowledge framework,” they said in a joint statement.
Weeg and Ambrose said that this was their first time working together.
The fellowship program started at the University of Massachusetts Boston and is now offered at three other universities, including MSU.
Monica Taylor is an associate professor in the department of secondary and special education in MSU’s College of Education and Human Services. For the Wipro program, she was one of the coordinating faculty on the university’s end.
Eight districts in northern New Jersey were invited to apply for the fellowship. Five were selected: Montclair, Orange, Clifton, Paramus and Kearny.
MSU invited K-12 science teachers in each district to apply, and selected five teachers from each district.
The fellowship period runs for three years, and each of the participating teachers receives a stipend of $10,000.
During that time, the teachers research different teaching methods and then use them in the classroom. They work in groups to evaluate one another’s progress, and there are also opportunities to attend conferences and workshops.
Both Weeg and Ambrose are considering applying for an extension of the fellowship program, and, in their statement, said they are seeing the program’s results taking shape in students’ reactions: “We recently received a wonderful compliment when a student said, ‘I love the way biology was this year because it just seemed so fair, it was all just about learning, not getting ahead or falling behind.’”