Bowdoin Teacher Scholars, a unique program for a liberal arts college, prepares and certifies current students and recent graduates to teach in public schools anywhere in the country.
BTS always takes place on campus during the spring semester, meaning just-graduated seniors face a stretch of time—about seven months—before the program begins in January.
The new fellowship takes advantage of this period to offer funding to a Bowdoin graduate who plans on enrolling in BTS. Based on the fellow’s interest and the needs of the College, the Snow Fellow works in a variety of teaching, learning, and mentoring contexts at Bowdoin in the fall.
“The fellowship offers a range of opportunities for the postgraduate to engage in professional development, and is unique among colleges and universities in both fostering professional growth and providing financial support prior to beginning an approved teacher-education program,” said Charles Dorn, the department. chair and Barry N. Wish Professor of Social Studies.
The fellowship is an extension of the support the Snow Family has given BTS for many years. Their donations already cover stipends for undergraduates and postgraduates as well as provide college loan forgiveness.
“The Snow Family’s generosity has allowed us to lower financial hurdles that would otherwise prohibit students from becoming certified public school teachers,” Dorn said. “Their continued support has now permitted us to establish this exceptional fellowship and we are incredibly grateful.”
This fall, Lily Sage ’22 was the first to receive the new Snow Family Teaching Fellowship. She graduated from Bowdoin in May after majoring in education and English and minoring in urban studies.
She was initially drawn to the opportunity, when she was told of it last spring, as she was then contemplating the months of time between graduation and BTS—months she otherwise would have spent living in Portland, Maine, and likely waiting tables, she said. .
Plus, she added, “I was excited to work with Chuck Dorn and the education department more closely. It’s my favorite department, and I wanted to get to know the faculty more professionally.”
Dorn said having Sage pilot the fellowship has been helpful. “Her contributions have been tremendously important as we work to finalize the various components of the fellowship, the time commitment involved, and the specific responsibilities entailed,” he said in an email. “We are delighted with the outcome of her efforts, have used what we learned through her experience to fine tune the fellowship, and are already looking forward to next year.”
Over the past four months, Sage had three main duties. She was a teaching assistant to two major education classes (and prerequisites for BTS): EDUC 3301: Teaching and Learning and EDUC 3302: Curriculum Development.
For Teaching and Learning, she taught a unit about island schools as an example of a distinctive rural community that Bowdoin teachers might one day work in. As it always does, the island schools’ curriculum included an overnight trip on Vinalhaven, an island with a small year-round. population and a K-12 school. Later, Vinalhaven high schoolers visited Bowdoin.
Sage said being a TA for the classes not only gave her teaching experience, but also served as a refresher to critical material. “The skills I was watching students learn and revisiting myself will come in so handy,” she said. “I think any aspiring teacher can always reflect and practice more, and there is so much to learn from those classes.”
Additionally, last semester she helped the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching conduct a self-evaluation by leading focus groups with student users and employees. And she partnered with the Office of Inclusion and Diversity to facilitate trainings for sophomores around the issues of class and equality.
“A real mix! But that was part of the fun — that I got to dip my toes in a bunch of different areas around teaching and learning in higher education, and across the spectrum from classes to support centers to facilitation,” Sage said.
Midway through the semester, Sage also began volunteering with Freeport High School’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program, working closely with the school’s new Mainers, as refugees in Maine are commonly called. This experience inspired her to travel next year and gain more fluency in French and to learn Portuguese, two languages spoken by many new Mainers.
“I can’t think of a more important job, a more urgent job,” she said about teaching, “considering that the future of the world depends on education.”
Another telltale sign she’s found her vocation: “Every time I go into a classroom, I feel so much joy, it’s constantly engaging,” she said. “My brain responds well to the work.”