Imagining a New School Through the Woodrow Wilson Academy Design Fellowship

June 5, 2017

Hillary Hempstead

students who received fellowship
Xavier Tirado and Jason Heitler-Klevans will play a central role in the creation of a new graduate school of education.
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna (left) and Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Xavier Tirado and Jason Heitler-Klevans will play a central role in the creation of a new graduate school of education.

Xavier Tirado ’17, a biology and sociology double major, and Jason Heitler-Klevans ‘17, a physics major, have both received Woodrow Wilson Academy Design Fellowships. The pair will play a central role in the creation of a new graduate school of education for teachers.


The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is working to create a new graduate school of education for teachers. Fellows in the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning will be given the opportunity to play a fundamental role in the launch of the academy, which is slated to open in 2018.


Through collaboration with academy faculty and staff, fellows will create and test assessments to refine the new graduate program. While doing this, they will also work towards an initial teaching license in middle or high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects.


Both Tirado and Heitler-Klevans say that applying for the fellowship was motivated by a desire to address what they observed as the challenges in teaching STEM subjects in a classroom setting.


“I was looking for non-traditional programs that would allow me to engage in a different approach to teaching and learning,” says Tirado. “This program was a perfect fit. Working through this program will allow me to combine my passions and educational background to eradicate educational inequality in STEM fields.”


For Heitler-Klevans, the program seemed like an ideal way to institute change. “I've been thinking about ways of engaging students who might otherwise be uncomfortable or alienated by the way STEM subjects are currently taught, and this seemed like the perfect way to try to address those concerns.”


Once the ten-month fellowship program is completed and the Academy of Teaching and Learning becomes a master’s degree-granting program, the fellows will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship to the academy.


After completing the master’s program, Tirado hopes to return to his native Chicago to apply the skills he had gained. “Using this program as the foundation for a teaching career, I would like to engage with teaching and learning in new ways and take this knowledge back to my hometown. I hope to teach for some time, become a principal of a school, and work toward creating a secondary institution in an underserved area in Chicago, focused on social justice and STEM.”


Heitler-Klevans is also considering a career in teaching, but he also has a deep interest in research. “I’m still fascinated by physics research and technology development, and I may consider going to graduate school for that.”


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