The University of St. Thomas School of Education has selected five middle- and high-school educators to participate in an inaugural fellowship program designed to produce extraordinary classroom teachers.
The five were selected from 105 applicants from 20 school districts and 21 private schools in the Twin Cities metro area.
Each participant in the yearlong St. Thomas Teaching Fellowship program receives a stipend, iPad and graduate-level academic credits.
The program begins this month; its goal is to bring together a group of accomplished educators and help them further develop their teaching, mentoring, critical-thinking and technology skills.
Applicants were required to have five years of classroom experience and to have shown the kind of dedication and leadership that will help them become extraordinary teachers.
“The program provides a setting of support and professional development for teachers who are experienced and want to become experts,” said Dr. Bruce Kramer, dean of St. Thomas’ College of Applied Professional Studies. “The ultimate goal is to ensure more learning for students through the development of their teachers.”
The first cohort consists of three men and two women; they come from five school districts, one urban and four suburban. They represent five disciplines: language arts, math, science, special education and instructional coaching.
Kim Colbert -- language arts and theater, St. Paul Central
Colbert is a 17-year veteran teacher of English and theater. She began her career as an educational assistant at Central where, she says, she received "the best training in classroom management, ever."
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Colbert says she is a teacher for life who enjoys the daily "theater of the absurd" of teaching high school. She finds grounding and sanity in the classroom when other professional responsibilities seem overwhelming.
Colbert is a union activist, serving on the Human Rights Committee and Executive Committees of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers. She also is a member of the National Education Association Board of Directors. Colbert was the 2008 Minnesota recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English Outstanding Educator Award and has been awarded two Teacher Fund Grants.
Justin Jacobs -- math, Osseo Public Schools
Jacobs originally is from Breckenridge where he graduated from high school in 1996. He studied mathematics at the University of Minnesota and graduated with distinction with a bachelor of science in 2000. He later earned a master’s in mathematics with emphasis in math education while participating in a joint effort between the U of M’s Math Department and College of Education.
While studying at the university he worked as a teaching assistant for Calculus I and Calculus II and was a section leader for the University of Minnesota Talented Youth in Mathematics Program. He taught seventh grade for two years at Westwood Middle School in Spring Lake Park and has taught at Park Center Senior High School for the past seven years. Jacobs has shared his love of mathematics with more than a thousand students over the past nine years.
Robert Reetz -- instructional strategies and special education, Irondale High School in Mounds View
Reetz is an instructional strategies facilitator and special education teacher at Irondale High School. Students in his ninth and 10th grade English concepts course master reading strategies that they use in other classroom settings. He uses data generated from the Measuring Academic Progress (MAP) reading test to determine the readiness level of each student in his class and measures comprehension growth throughout each unit using the SMART Student Response System.
Reetz is a graduate of Augsburg College where he completed a master’s thesis on using MAP data to differentiate reading comprehension curricula.
Tim Ronhovde -- science, Edina Public Schools
Ronhovde teaches 7th grade science at Valley View Middle School in Edina where he also is staff-development coordinator. He serves on the Building Leadership Team, the Site Council and coaches the eighth-grade Knowledge Master’s Team,
He says he entered the teaching profession “in a fairly roundabout fashion.” After earning a biology degree from Marquette University, he joined the Peace Corps as a science teacher in Zimbabwe. After returning to the United States he began teaching middle school science and math.
He has since completed his master’s degree and teaching license from St. Mary’s University and earned an education specialist degree and K-12 principal licensure from St. Thomas’ School of Education.
He applied for the fellowship program because “I have reached the point where I consider myself a good teacher, but I desire to be a great one. … I realized that were I to find myself at the helm of a school I would want this for all of my staff.”
Cassie Schlangen -- language arts, Spring Lake Park High School
Schlangen received her bachelor’s degree in English from the College of St. Benedict in 2006. For the past five years she has taught language arts at Spring Lake Park High School where she also has served as a coach, student government adviser, teacher leadership team member, and district curriculum lead.
The St. Thomas Teaching Fellowship is made possible through a gift from Nancy and John Tellor. Nancy Tellor is member of the College of Applied Professional Studies Advisory Board.