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Dunham Family Gift Supports UW Student Teachers

September 1, 2022
logo for Dunham Family Fellows

A recent gift from Dave and Kelly Dunham to the University of Wyoming College of Education has created the Dunham Family Fellows program to develop future teacher leaders for Wyoming.

The program was designed to provide innovative and unique experiences during an impressionable time in a future teacher’s educational journey. The Dunham family has a passion to create positive experiences that solidify students’ belief in their decision to enter the teaching profession and provide them with an optimistic view of the opportunities that lie ahead.

Dunham Family Fellows will receive an award to cover any expenses incurred during their student-teaching residency. The inaugural cohort of Dunham Family Fellows will begin the program this fall and will start student teaching in spring 2023.

“We are grateful for the ability to give our students a substantial award to ease the financial impact they experience during student teaching. In addition to the cost of attendance, the funds can be used to cover living expenses, such as rent, utility bills and gasoline,” says Alan Buss, a professor and director of the School of Teacher Education. “This is especially helpful to students who leave Laramie and must find temporary housing around the state to complete their student-teaching residency.”

“The time, effort and financial burdens placed on today’s student teachers are significant. This support will ease these burdens and allow recipients to positively experience the start of a professional career that creates a lifetime of meaningful relationships,” say Dave and Kelly Dunham, who live in Sheridan. “We hope the experience empowers students with a growth mindset to become Wyoming’s next educational classroom leaders and to mold those who will follow in their footsteps.”

In addition to their traditional coursework and requirements, Dunham Family Fellows will participate in a full year of additional professional development experiences that strengthen their professional and leadership qualities. During these events, students will connect with state education leaders to enhance their understanding of pressing issues facing teachers and students. The Fellows also will receive training to expand their classroom management techniques and help them maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Yennifer De Carrillo, Shannon Harris, Melanie Long, Jessica Middelstadt, Reuben Morris and Noelle Peterson

Plans also are in place to have the Dunham Family Fellows engage with the Wyoming Teacher-Mentor Corps (WTMC). This elite group of Wyoming mentor teachers is being trained by the UW College of Education to provide expert guidance to early-career and pre-service teachers so they can improve teacher success and retention. The Dunham Family Fellows also would be prime candidates to become future teacher mentors in the WTMC.

“As teacher leaders, Fellows will begin to see that their world is much bigger than their classroom and will realize how they fit into the entire educational ecosystem,” Buss says. “They will see how their teaching influences learning further down the line and be mindful of how their professional behavior affects the school and community at large.”

“We are hoping to change new teachers’ mindsets by ensuring they have the support and tools to enjoy successful careers,” says Elizabeth McMahan, director of student teaching. “Teachers entering the field need to know they are part of a larger community and should feel empowered to work with their peers to affect change beyond their classrooms. We want them to feel confident in their teaching practice and to know they have a network of peers to support them in their first years of teaching.”

The fellowship programming will extend beyond a participant’s time at UW, and the cohort members will meet a few times during their first year of teaching to reflect on their experiences. A goal of the program is to have past cohorts play an active role in developing the skills and abilities of current Fellows. This interaction will further develop a community of teacher leaders throughout the state that can help new teachers transition into the profession.

Students can apply for this highly selective program when they fill out their student-teaching residency application. Applicants must write brief statements about their future goals as teachers; reflect on teacher leaders who have inspired them; and share their ideas about beneficial professional development for new teachers. Both merit and need are taken into consideration when awarding the fellowships.

The program was created in memory of alumnus Marvin “Lee” Dunham, of Wheatland. Dunham received his B.A. from UW in 1954 and later returned to complete a master’s degree in educational administration. Dunham served his hometown school system, Platte County School District 1, for 48 years, mentoring thousands of students and inspiring his peers.

“My father’s life was defined by his passions for education, the development of meaningful relationships with people and the University of Wyoming. As his remaining family and retired educators ourselves, my wife, Kelly, and I could not imagine a more rewarding way to honor my father than to combine those three passions into the support of student teachers at UW,” Dave Dunham says.

People interested in supporting UW student teachers can make a gift here: https://give.uwyo.edu/student-teacher-support#updates.

Members of the inaugural cohort of Dunham Family Fellows are:

-- Yennifer De Carrillo, of Laramie, an elementary education major who will complete her student teaching with Albany County School District 1 in a third/fourth grade classroom at the UW Lab School in Laramie.

-- Shannon Harris, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a student in the teaching secondary content graduate certificate program, with a focus on biology education. She will student teach with Albany County School District 1 in the middle-level science classes at the UW Lab School in Laramie.

-- Melanie Long, of Broomfield, Colo., an elementary education major who will complete her student teaching with Laramie County School District 1 in a first grade classroom at Goins Elementary School in Cheyenne.

-- Jessica Middelstadt, of Cheyenne, a student in the teaching secondary content graduate certificate program, with a focus on English education. She will student teach with Laramie County School District 1 at East High School in Cheyenne.

-- Reuben Morris, of Sheridan, an elementary education major who will complete his student teaching in a fifth grade classroom with Sheridan County School District 2 at Woodland Park Elementary School in Sheridan.

-- Noelle Peterson, of Encampment, an elementary education major who will complete her student teaching in a first grade classroom with Sheridan County School District 2 at Sagebrush Elementary School in Sheridan.

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