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Charmaine Giles '10 Awarded Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color

Charmaine Giles '10 Awarded 
Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color

by Tiffany Liao '10

Charmaine Giles
Charmaine Giles '10

Charmaine Giles '10 is one of 25 students nationwide selected for the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color (WW-RBF). The Fellowship is designed to recruit, support, and retain individuals of color as K-12 public school teachers in the United States.

"I was shaking when I got the letter saying I got it, so I got my mom to open it and then we did our little dance around the living room," Giles remembers.

Giles, from Wyncote, Pa., is an educational studies and sociology and anthropology major. She will use the awarded grant for the Teacher Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School for Education. To be accepted in the WW-RBF program, students must be nominated by a liaison and go through a competitive selection process.

Professor of Educational Studies and Associate Provost Lisa Smulyan '76 nominated Giles because of her strong dedication to urban education, notably though her work with Project Blueprint, a program that provides at-risk minority youth from Chester, Pa., with opportunities for academic support, life skills training, personal development, cultural enrichment, and career exploration.

"[Giles] has taken education courses at Swarthmore and has a strong grounding in the field, she has developed her skills and interest in teaching through her various extracurricular activities on campus, and she is committed to being involved in the use of education as a way of meeting the needs of individuals and working toward social justice," Smulyan says.

Lang Center Students
Charmaine Giles works with a student at Project Blueprint.

Fellows are committed to teach in a public school for three years after graduate school. Giles is training to teach social studies to sixth and seventh graders and plans to work in Philadelphia. She credits her liberal arts background for granting her the critical perspective to teach effectively and meaningfully.

"Because of Swarthmore, I understand the meaning of a person creating history because it's really the person who won and who has the written history that can quote unquote speak the truth," Giles said, "I feel like in an urban environment where their history and their community or social capital isn't being tapped into, that's really, really powerful."

For Giles, the Fellowship serves as validation of her passion for education reform over the last four years.

"I never regretted staying up super late doing [Project] Blueprint lessons or studying that extra hour just to get a better understanding of how adolescents work through stage theory or all the things that I work really hard for and continue to work for," Giles says. "But it's nice to know other people besides my mom think that I'm worth the time to invest something very huge in."