ASU math grad selected for competitive Woodrow Wilson fellowship

Bethany Fowler

Arizona State University graduate Bethany Fowler of Uvalde, Texas, is among the first 50 Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows announced this week by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The highly competitive program recruits recent college graduates with strong science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) backgrounds to teach those subjects in high-need high schools.

New Jersey is one of five states participating in the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships. It is funded by a consortium of New Jersey donors, including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, with initial funding of $11.4 million.

Fowler just completed her master’s degree in mathematics at Arizona State University’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. “In my time at ASU I had the opportunity to study mathematics education with professors Kyeong Roh, Marilyn Carlson and Pat Thompson. This group of individuals is highly experienced and successful in their field, and I learned so much from them about focusing on student understanding.”

Professor Marilyn Carlson says Fowler is an exceptional mathematics instructor: “Her research perspective and genuine curiosity about student thinking and learning is driven by a desire to make mathematics learning accessible to all students, including those who haven’t previously viewed themselves as being mathematically talented. She sets high standards for student learning and supports them in persisting to make sense of novel problems.

“Last semester, a precalculus student came by her office and was upset because Bethany was making her think in her class," says Carlson. "When the student claimed that she had never had to think in a math course before, Bethany politely informed the student that she needed to change her view of mathematics.”

Fowler enjoyed teaching precalculus classes at ASU. “I learned so much by working with so many students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds," she says. "My students continually inspired me to want to teach.”

Fowler and the other Fellows each receive $30,000 to complete a specially designed master’s program based on a yearlong classroom experience. She will attend Rowan University in New Jersey. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in urban and rural New Jersey schools most in need of STEM teachers. Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring throughout their three-year commitment. Fowler will teach math and engineering at Millville High School in Millville, New Jersey.

“I have been paired with two veteran teachers with 12 and 13 years experience each. I feel that working with them in their classrooms over the next school year is an invaluable opportunity to learn how to be an effective teacher,” said Fowler. “I hope to learn as much as possible about helping my future students be as successful as possible.”

“Study after study has shown that the single most important in-school factor in student achievement is access to excellent classroom teachers,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “These fellows are bringing real science and math expertise to the kids who most need them.”

“Bethany will be an exceptional teacher and leader of other teachers. She has strong mathematical abilities and understands how foundational ideas are learned and connected,” said Carlson. “Bethany recognizes that every class of students is unique, and she works tirelessly to support her students in becoming more powerful and confident mathematical thinkers. She doesn’t just teach mathematics, but she teaches students mathematics.”

Fowler is honored to be named a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. “I have the opportunity to join a group of highly motivated individuals working together to improve the quality of STEM education for many, many students in this country,” she said.