Wipro, a leading global IT company, recently awarded a five-year $1.3 million grant to a team of five Montclair State University faculty members to implement the Wipro Science Education Fellowship (SEF) leadership training program for K-12 science teachers and on June 11, more than 70 people gathered on campus for the kick-off celebration. The guests included the first cohort of 20 SEF teacher participants, as well as representatives from participating school districts, Wipro, the University of Massachusetts-Boston and Montclair State.
“The evening was very successful and truly a celebration,” says Collette Killian, College of Science and Mathematics professor and team member. Killian and fellow team members–Mika Munakata and Jackie Willis of the College of Science and Mathematics, and Emily Klein and Monica Taylor of the College of Education and Human Services–will run the program designed to train science teachers to become leaders within their classrooms.
Wipro is an India-based company with a significant presence in North America, including New Jersey. “This is the only partnership we have of this kind in the U.S.,” says Nikki Vasser Glee, senior manager in human resources at Wipro, who attended the kick-off. “We have never done anything like this in the U.S.”
More than 60 teachers from high-needs schools in the Clifton, Montclair, Kearney, Orange and Paramus school districts will participate in the Wipro SEF program over the next five years. Each teacher will receive a $10,000 stipend for participating in the professional development for two years. “They will meet with each other once a month and we will meet as a big group once a month,” says Munakata.
The Wipro SEF program supports emerging teacher leadership by focusing on reflective practice, inquiry-based pedagogies, classroom research and leadership activities. These veteran teachers will also be prepared to train and help their districts retain new teachers. “Ultimately, these teachers will be in positions to enact positive change within their schools, their districts and beyond,” says Munakata. “We hope they will form a professional community of SEF science teachers and form long-lasting professional ties.”
The Montclair State team will collaborate throughout the project’s duration with partners and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts-Boston who are running a parallel program. “The UMass team will concurrently be working with five Boston area school districts,” notes Munakata.
“Wipro is deeply committed to improving school education, especially for the disadvantaged. Our collaboration with UMass, Boston and MSU is for this purpose.” says Anurag Behar, chief sustainability officer at Wipro. “We are happy that we share this purpose with these two wonderful institutions.”
While the June 11 celebration was the first time–other than an informational meeting the Montclair State team met with the Cohort 1 teachers, their work has only just begun. “We’ll have our first working meeting on June 18,” says Killian.