Recent Allegheny College Graduate Receives Prestigious Teaching Fellowship

Joseph P. Hayes, a 2020 Allegheny College graduate from Jamestown, New York, has received a $32,000 Pennsylvania Teaching Fellowship from the WW Foundation to fund his master’s degree studies at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he also will teach in high-need schools.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into the classroom and building relationships with my students as well as all of the faculty I will be working with at Duquesne,” said Hayes, who was a chemistry major and education studies minor at Allegheny.

Joseph P. Hayes, a 2020 Allegheny College graduate.
Joseph P. Hayes, a 2020 Allegheny College graduate.

The highly competitive WW Foundation program recruits recent graduates and career changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math — the STEM fields — and prepares them specifically to teach in high-need secondary schools. It is the second year of the program, and this year 28 individuals were awarded Pennsylvania Teaching Fellowships. Each Fellow receives a grant to complete a specially designed master’s degree program based on a yearlong classroom experience. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in high-need Pennsylvania schools. Throughout the three-year commitment as a teacher of record at a public school, Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring.

“We are thrilled that Joe Hayes has been named a WW Foundation Teaching Fellow,” said Susan Slote, assistant professor of English and director of education studies at Allegheny. “The Foundation has long sought to identify and support excellence in teaching, particularly in rural and urban schools that have traditionally struggled to attract and retain highly qualified teachers. While Joe felt a call to becoming a high-school chemistry teacher ever since he first arrived at Allegheny, he increasingly turned his focus to understanding educational inequities in our public schools, and to serving where his teaching will be most needed.”

“The relationships I had at Allegheny are hands down the most valuable part of my college experience,” said Hayes, who played football for the Gators for four years as a wide receiver. “The relationships I built with my professors at Allegheny helped support me academically and even helped me look forward to my future. I would not have even known about the fellowship if my professors hadn’t reached out to me and suggested that I look into it.”

Hayes thanked Professor Slote; Director of Fellowship Advising Patrick Jackson; Elizabeth Guldan, his academic advisor and assistant professor of chemistry; and Autumn Parker, a career advisor in the Allegheny Gateway, for helping him prepare for his recruitment into the fellowship. “The support I had from Allegheny staff throughout the entire process was huge,” he said.

Hayes has previous classroom experience, he said, having worked as a teacher’s aide in a special education classroom in his hometown during the summers. Also, the ability to study and participate in athletics inspired Hayes during his four years at the College, he said. “The opportunity to play football while receiving a great education at the same time was critical for me,” Hayes said. “At Allegheny you are actually able to be both a student and an athlete, which is very important.”

The WW Teaching Fellowship connects STEM experts with the students who need them the most, WW Foundation President Rajiv Vinnakota said. “Not only will the program prepare each Fellow to be an excellent educator, it will also give them the practice, support, and network of peers needed to succeed throughout their careers in the classroom,” he said. “And for our university partners, the Fellowship supports their continued efforts to recruit, prepare, and mentor STEM teachers in the high-need schools that need them most.”

The WW Teaching Fellowship launched in Pennsylvania in 2018. All three participating universities — Duquesne, West Chester and the University of Pennsylvania — received $400,000 matching grants to develop their teacher-preparation programs based on standards set by the WW Foundation. Over the program’s three years, the participating Pennsylvania universities will enroll 108 Fellows.

The Pennsylvania program is supported by the William Penn Foundation, Highmark, AT&T, the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union, M&T Bank, the Weiss Family Foundation, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Foundation, and several other major individual donors. Given the state’s shortage of secondary-level STEM teachers, the foundation is looking for additional partners and funders to expand the program.

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation identifies and develops the nation’s best students to meet the most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society. In June 2020, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename the organization and to remove Woodrow Wilson from its name; a new name will be announced in the fall of 2020.