After Alexander Kruszewski graduated from George Mason University in 2017 with his degrees in physics and English, he stayed in the Northern Virginia area to work in community organizing and youth empowerment. He also taught robotics and worked as a curriculum developer.
But it was substitute teaching in Northern Virginia that convinced Kruszewski to pursue a teaching certification program.
“When I started substitute teaching, I would come home from work so full energy that I thought, well, if substitute teaching can make me feel this way, then teaching really should be my career,” said Kruszewski.
Now Kruszewski can pursue that career as a 2021 WW Pennsylvania Teaching Fellow.
Kruszewski will receive $32,000 to complete a specially designed master’s degree program in teaching at University of Pennsylvania. The program involves a 10-month classroom teaching experience in a Philadelphia public school, in addition to coursework.
As part of the fellowship, Kruszewski has agreed to teach for three years in high-need Pennsylvania public schools. He started the program this semester.
“The students I am teaching now and will be teaching in the three years following the program have so many barriers put up in front of them. It is fulfilling in a true and genuine way to help them flourish,” Kruszewski said.
And he’s not alone. His wife, Sojourner Gleeson, had previously decided to go to University of Pennsylvania to pursue a degree in social work but deferred for a year during the pandemic. Kruszewski said that he’s glad it worked out for them to pursue their degrees there at the same time.
“Philadelphia seems like it will be in our future for a while,” he said.
Kruszewski is one of 40 individuals chosen to be in the third cohort of the WW Teaching Fellowship program, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars said. While Kruszewski will attend University of Pennsylvania, other members of his cohort will be attending Duquesne University and West Chester University, also located in Pennsylvania.
“Alexander Kruszewski has been selected as one of our 2021 Teaching Fellows because the search committee was impressed by his academic excellence, his passion for STEM, and his commitment to educating students in high-need urban secondary schools,” said WW Teaching Fellowship Program Director Audra Watson. “We look forward to following his journey toward becoming a STEM educator through this program.”
The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, formerly known as the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, recruits both recent graduates and individuals going through career changes with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math. Throughout the three-year teaching commitment, fellows receive support and mentoring though the program.
“Alex was an enthusiastic and engaged student, which I’m sure will make him an outstanding classroom teacher,” said Debra Lattanzi Shutika, associate professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “I’m really proud of his accomplishments.”
“What I’m doing feels so natural, so I just know this was the right step for me,” said Kruszewski.