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Georgia Southern graduate selected as Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow

MartinDaRon Martin (‘13), a Georgia Southern biology graduate from McDonough, Georgia, is among the first 36 recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship in Georgia.

The Fellowship is a highly competitive program which recruits both recent graduates and career-changers with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math — the STEM fields — and prepares them to teach in high-need secondary schools. As part of the program, Martin will receive $30,000 to complete a specially-designed master’s degree program based on a year-long classroom experience and in return, he will commit to teach for three years in the urban and rural schools in Georgia most in need of STEM teachers.

While Martin says that he is excited about his selection for this Fellowship, he admits that teaching wasn’t part of his original plan for his life. After working with a range of children in need, however, he said the opportunity seemed like a natural fit.

“I have done a lot of volunteer work in underserved, and high-need communities,” he said. “I’ve noticed that apart from systemic issues, many times the kids lack someone to motivate and encourage them. It’s amazing the difference that it makes in a kid’s life, when they know that there is someone in their corner pulling for them and telling them that they can be whatever they want to be.

“I had teachers and instructors to do that for me, and I in turn would like to do that for them.”

On Tuesday, June 23, Martin and the other fellows joined Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Fellowship officials in a special ceremony at the State Capitol in Atlanta. There, Deal underscored the importance of the program and the students it will send into the classroom.

“Our schools are our most strategic investment in the future,” said Deal. “I’m confident these educators share my belief that every child can learn and should have access to an education that prepares them for college, the workforce and beyond. The inaugural class of Georgia Teaching Fellows will gain the training necessary to serve as a lifeline for students to a high-quality education, and I’m grateful to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for its investment in our state’s students.”

For Martin, too, it’s about investment, and he hopes his background will help him bring a variety of experiences into the classroom. In the meantime, he says he’s excited to learn to be a teacher. As for the future, Martin says he hopes to continue teaching beyond the classroom, not only trying to address students intellectual needs, but also to help them in their physical needs as well.

“Of course [I want] to become a successful teacher, but I am also interested preventative health care,” he said. “Things like exercise, nutrition, screenings etc. I would like to do some community work that sheds light and urges these things in urban communities.”

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