- Associated Press - Saturday, May 17, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - A University of Mississippi graduate student Jessica Fancher Peralta is the first Mississippian to receive a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Fellowship worth $175,000.

A University news release said the five-year program will offer financial support to assist Peralta with a variety of grants for classroom materials, professional development, networking opportunities, travel to national conferences and more.

The Moorville native is to start her first year of teaching this fall.

Knowles Science Teaching Foundation was founded in 2002. Its teaching fellowships are designed to attract and retain high school teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Fellowships are awarded to students who demonstrate a high level of content knowledge and effective teaching methods, along with potential to become influential teaching leaders.

“The thing I like most about the fellowship is the community of educators all across the country,” Peralta, who will begin teaching mathematics at Oxford High School later this year, said in the university’s news release. “It’s a network of current fellows and past fellows. I will be able to connect with teachers all around the country to share experiences and seek out ideas.”

The release cites Knowles foundation data indicating more than half of all U.S. STEM teachers have less than five years’ experience in teaching.

“Jessica exhibits all of the things you want from a teacher leader,” said Allan Bellman, associate professor of mathematics education and the faculty member who encouraged Peralta to apply. “Teachers who receive Knowles Fellowships are exceptional educators. They have strong promise of staying in education and spreading a wide influence.”

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