of Delaware senior Daniel Levinson knows that not every high school
student he’s teaching shares his love of math. He even acknowledges that
some of them may never use algebra in their adult lives.
But, as a student teacher this semester at Conrad Schools of Science
near Newport, Delaware, he’s learning how to motivate all students, not
just those who are planning careers in STEM fields.
“I want them to see that the problem-solving skills and rational
thinking that you use in math is something they will use in the future,”
he said. “Math teaches you to be a problem-solver, and they’ll need to
solve problems for the rest of their lives.”
Levinson, who is graduating this spring with a degree in mathematics
education, has thought about a teaching career since he was in third
grade. In high school in his hometown of East Windsor, New Jersey, he
began zeroing in on a goal of teaching math at the secondary school
His dedication and passion for the career was recently recognized by the national Knowles Teacher Initiative,
which named Levinson a 2019 Knowles Teaching Fellow. The fellowship is
highly competitive, with only about 35 awarded each year to early-career
math or science teachers, and recognizes those selected for their
commitment and their leadership potential.
The fellowship provides five years of financial support, which can
cover such costs as classroom materials and continuing education, and
professional development through a variety of workshops, mentoring and
coaching opportunities and a network of current and former Knowles
The fellowship program was created, according to the Knowles Teacher
Initiative, in recognition of the fact that “learning to teach well
requires time, sustained effort and ongoing support and development
throughout a teacher’s career.”
Levinson hopes to make use of the fellowship to continue to improve his teaching and to earn a master’s degree.
He first learned about the program from Michelle Cirillo, associate
professor of mathematical sciences, who encouraged him to undertake the
lengthy application and selection process.
After submitting personal essays and letters of recommendation,
Levinson took part in an in-depth phone interview and then a weekend of
intensive activities, during which he and some 66 other finalists were
observed as they engaged in discussion groups and problem-solving
“I thought I did really well,” he said of the final step in the
process. “But then, I thought all 66 of us did really well, so I didn’t
take anything for granted.”
Although Levinson is still completing his full-time student teaching
this semester, he already has quite a bit of experience over the past
several years. In addition to field placements through UD, he’s worked
as a tutor at a private math learning center and as a substitute
He’s pursuing teaching jobs for next fall in Delaware and other parts of the country.
More about the Knowles fellowship
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, established in 1999, aims to
increase the number of high-quality high school science and mathematics
teachers in order to improve science, technology, engineering and math
(STEM) education in the United States.
The Teaching Fellows Program, the foundation’s signature program,
targets young teachers and empowers them to become leaders in
strengthening the teaching profession.
The program also seeks to address the national problem of teachers
who leave the profession before they develop expertise, and the gap in
which children of color and children living in poverty are
disproportionately taught by the least experienced teachers.
Article by Ann Manser; photo by Andre Smith