Newest Class of Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows Announced at State Capitol


ATLANTA – Gov. Nathan Deal at the State Capitol today announced Georgia's newest class of Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows, including 13 who will study at Mercer University.

With the addition of this year's class of 63 aspiring educators who will attend Mercer, Columbus State University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University and Piedmont College, the Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship will have prepared a total of 159 teachers to lead STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classes in the state's high-need secondary schools.

“Sandra and I are honored to welcome this third class of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows into the program,” said Deal. “Georgia has earned many accolades over the past several years, and none of them would be possible or sustainable without our leaders in the classroom. This program creates a pipeline of dedicated math and science teachers to the schools that need them the most, and we wish the best of luck to this year's class.”

“As Georgia re-emphasizes its commitment to turning around the state's low-performing schools, it is essential that every Georgia child has access to excellent educators, particularly in subjects like science and math,” added Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “With the Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship program, Georgia colleges are ensuring Georgia classrooms have a pipeline of needed teachers both committed to teaching in high-need schools and with the skills and abilities to boost student learning. Teachers like our Georgia Teaching Fellows are key to future success.”

Among Mercer's newest Fellows are recent graduates or career-changers with strong backgrounds in the STEM disciplines. They include Morgan Akridge from Toccoa; Joey Chan from Marietta; Julius Collado from Darien; Dezmon Gay from Atlanta; David “Ben” Jones from Huntington, West Virginia; Austin Lord from Toccoa; Angela Monetta from Loganville; Jiyou Oh from Macon; Chelsea Robinson from Clarkston; Shakevia Robinson from Atlanta; Lynetria Sanders from Columbus; Jose Santana Villa from Conyers; and Ashley Stirgus from Detroit, Michigan.

Akridge (CLA '17), Chan (CLA '15), Lord (CLA '17), Oh (CLA '12, MED '16) and Santana Villa (EGR '16) previously earned undergraduate or graduate degrees from Mercer.

“Our second cohort of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows has been in Macon just over a month, has already completed a weeklong robotics workshop with Dr. Anthony Choi in the School of Engineering, and is midway through a full load of classes,” said Dr. Sharon Murphy Augustine, chair of teacher education in the Tift College of Education and program director of Mercer's Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships. “All of the Fellows' classes are connected to the clinical field experiences of several STEM camps they will facilitate on campus for middle-school students. The Engineering Design Process STEM Camp is currently underway with students from our partner districts in Bibb, Dodge, Houston and Monroe counties.”

“It is exciting to see the Fellows engaging with this problem-based learning approach to education,” added Dr. Phil McCreanor, professor of environmental engineering and director of Mercer's Engineering Honors Program.

Each Fellow receives $30,000 to complete a specially designed, cutting-edge master's degree program based on a yearlong classroom experience. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in the urban and rural Georgia schools that most need strong STEM teachers. Throughout the three-year commitment, Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation is administering the program, with in-state coordination by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Current project funding is $13.7 million.

The university partners, selected in a statewide review by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, have spent years tailoring their teacher preparation programs to meet the Fellowship's standards for intensive clinical work and rigorous related coursework.

All five participating universities received $400,000 matching grants to develop their teacher preparation programs based on standards set by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. The participating Georgia colleges and universities will administer the program for three years, each enrolling a total of 36 Fellows for a total of 180 Fellows who will contribute to the state's high-need secondary schools.

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation is partnering with a wide range of school districts across the state on this effort. The Bibb County School District, Dodge County Schools, Houston County Schools and Monroe County Schools are partnering with Mercer in Central Georgia.

Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio are currently Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship states. The Georgia program brings the Woodrow Wilson Foundation's total commitment to the Fellowship to more than $90 million nationally. For more information, visit

About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation identifies and develops the nation's best minds to meet its most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society. For more information, visit

About the Tift College of Education

Mercer University's Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University's three Regional Academic Centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. The College offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Practitioner,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students.