2016 Class of ’54 Alumni Awards

Location: United States

Class of ’54 Commitment to Teaching Fellowship for Alumni Recipients 2016

Amherst is proud of its recent graduates who have chosen to teach in urban and other school systems where students may be considered “at risk” or are socio-economically disadvantaged.  Through the generosity of the Class of 1954, which has established a Commitment to Teaching Fund, Amherst is able each year to award stipends to a limited number of Amherst graduates who have been teaching for ten years or less.

The 2016 awardee biographies are listed below.

View the Program Book Here

Mia Anderson ’06 majored in Fine Arts and Psychology at Amherst. After working for a year as an associate elementary teacher and SAT tutor, she attended graduate school at Northwestern University and earned a Master of Science in Education. For two years, she taught second grade at a turnaround school on the south side of Chicago. Seeking adventure, she moved to Cape Town, South Africa, to work at an international school as a first, second, and fourth grade teacher, as well as the curriculum coordinator. Now recently married, Mia returned to the United States in 2015 and currently teaches fourth grade in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Throughout her academic and teaching careers, Mia has focused on how fine arts can enhance a student’s critical thinking skills. She strives to create opportunities for her students to visually express their ideas and learning in the classroom. In a time when standards and testing dominate education, she continues to maintain that higher level thinking can be achieved through a more creative process.

Daniel I. Calvert ’09 is a second grade special education teacher in an inclusive, co-taught classroom at Bronx Community Charter School in New York. While at Amherst, Daniel created an interdisciplinary major in Race and Ethnic Studies with a Spanish double, and was heavily involved in La Causa and WAMH. A Brooklyn native, he then returned home to New York City with Teach for America, working as a kindergarten special educator at P.S. 48 while earning a master’s degree in early childhood general and special education from Bank Street College of Education. Afterward, he moved to Mario Umana Academy, a public school in East Boston, first as a special educator and then as a general elementary teacher and school leader. This past summer he gladly returned to New York to join the only progressive public school serving the Bronx, and also began a second master’s degree program in school leadership. He believes in implementing a progressive, developmentally appropriate approach to education in poor, black, and Latino neighborhood schools.

Michele L. Morris ’02 majored in Latin American History and Spanish, and played ice hockey and rugby while at Amherst. She spent the summer before before her senior year teaching English in Costa Rica, and was quickly drawn into the profession. After graduating from Amherst she moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she interned in a kindergarten classroom in an international school. After moving back to the States and getting a master’s in teaching, she taught grades three and five for two years outside of Boston before moving to Munich, Germany, to teach fourth grade at the Munich International School. After five years abroad, she moved back and began work as a Math Specialist in the Brookline Public Schools. In this capacity, she gets to work with both teachers and students in grades four and five, fine-tuning curricula and providing intervention and extension for students. She currently lives outside of Boston with her husband and three children.

Camila de Vedia-Helm ’08 was was born and raised in San Diego, California, in a multicultural and multilingual family, and has been a high school Spanish teacher in the New York City public school system for almost seven years. The High School for Health Professions and Human Services, her school of the past six years, receives financial assistance for its high percentage of children from low-income families. There, she has found the most ethnically, racially, and linguistically diverse community she has ever experienced. As a language teacher, she has the immense freedom and tremendous privilege of being able to make far-reaching cross-cultural and linguistic comparisons that remain relevant to these incredibly diverse groups of students. Such a school in one of the most racially segregated public school systems in the nation motivates her to teach her students to critically examine racism, sexism, classism and hegemony in Latin American and Spanish culture, language and history. An understanding of social justice is essential for Latin American and Spanish studies and should be a central objective in learning across all disciplines. 

Matthew E. Yellin ’09 is Assistant Principal and a Social Studies teacher at Hillside Arts and Letters Academy, located in Jamaica, Queens. Matthew was a member of the founding staff of HALA, which opened in 2010 with the mission of creating a small arts-themed public school for the students of New York City. During his six years there, he has taught global history, government, and economics, and mentored and coached several colleagues, before this year moving into an administrative position. Matthew graduated from Amherst College in 2009 with a major in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought. While at Amherst, he tutored in the El Arco Iris program and hosted a radio show on WAMH. After Amherst, he attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he completed the one year Teacher Education Program, and student taught in a Boston Public high school. During his summers, he has pursued a variety of learning and travel opportunities that include receiving a grant to attend a National Endowment for the Humanities workshop on teaching religions and a Facing History workshop on race in America.