2018 Class of ’54 Alumni Awards

Location: United States

Class of ’54 Commitment to Teaching Fellowship for Alumni Recipients 2018

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 2018 awardee biographies are listed below.

View the Program Book Here

Mia Anderson ’06 works at a public elementary school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Masters in Education from Northwestern University, and has previously taught Grades 1-4 in Chicago and in Cape Town, South Africa. Currently completing her tenth year in the classroom, Mia teaches Second Grade and serves as her school’s Site Testing Coordinator. Mia also is part of her school’s Leadership Team, where she helps in decision-making processes that align with the school mission, and she is also an active member of her school’s PTA. After school hours, she heads the 21st Century Community Learning Center as the Site Coordinator, implementing a STEAM-based enrichment curriculum through a federally funded program that connects students with community organizations around Santa Fe. Mia’s latest ambition places her in a year-long internship and certification program to obtain her Administrator’s license. All of Mia’s roles in her school community focus on her philosophy that learning occurs best when individual connections are made with students and their families.

Christine Cantore ’12 grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania and graduated from Hershey High School. After high school, Christine attended Amherst College where she majored in Psychology and was a member of the Varsity Field Hockey team. She graduated from Amherst in 2012 and moved to New York City to join the 2012 Teach for America New York Corps. Through Teach for America, she was hired as a kindergarten special education teacher at Public School 157x, an elementary school in the South Bronx, NY. Christine has been at P.S. 157x for the past six years, teaching kindergarten and first grade special education, as well as Special Education Teacher Support Services for students in all elementary grades K-5. In addition, Christine serves as the Special Education Liaison for P.S. 157x, coaching special educators on creating and implementing individualized education plans for all learners with special needs.

Michael Chernicoff ’09 grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Amherst in 2009 with a degree in physics. Following a brief stint in the healthcare database industry, he enrolled in graduate school at Boston University, where he received an MA in physics. In 2014, Michael put his doctoral research on hold to pursue a second masters degree in science education, also at BU. This second graduate program was funded through the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship, which recruits scientists to teach in high needs schools as fully licensed public school teachers. After completing education school in 2015, Michael taught physics for a year in the Boston public school system. Since 2016 he has been working as an 11th and 12th grade physics teacher at Framingham High School in Framingham, Massachusetts. Michael lives in Manchester, Connecticut with his partner Sarah Bolts, Smith class of 2008 (no, they did not meet in college). 

Camila de Vedia-Helm ’08 has been a high school Spanish teacher for almost 9 years in the New York City public school system. She credits receiving the Commitment to Teaching Fellowship award in 2016 as supporting and inspiring her to become a more innovative and tenacious leader. She views herself as equal parts educator and community organizer. Much of her work aspires to connect traditionally uncommon alliances and communities both inside and outside of her school community in order to more efficiently and effectively share her outside resources and privileges with her students. Since 2016 she has been a guest speaker at the CUNY Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, organized lectures, workshops and mentorships between high school students and NYC professional documentary filmmakers, completed a six month paid academic sabbatical leave at the University of Buenos Aires, advised the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), and been approved to design and teach the Advanced Spanish Medical Interpreting program at High School for Health Professions and Human Services.” 

Taylor Grant-Knight ’13 is a high school math and computer science teacher at the East-West School of International Studies, a public school in Flushing, Queens (NY). After spending his first year after Amherst in the tech industry, Taylor moved to New York City to pursue teaching. He received his teacher training through the New Visions for Public Schools Math and Science Teacher Residency (MASTER) program and earned an MA in Adolescent Education in Mathematics from Hunter College. Since joining East-West, Taylor’s main focus has been on revitalizing and expanding the school’s computer science program. He has secured his school’s involvement in the NYC CS4All program and, in addition to Algebra I, currently teaches the AP Computer Science Principles course. In the next year, he will be expanding the computer science offerings to include an introductory course in computer science and an elective in robotics. While at Amherst, Taylor majored in mathematics, played alto saxophone in the jazz ensemble (and, presently, plays with the school staff band), danced in Amherst Dance, and directed the a cappella group Route 9. 

 Ashley McCall ’12 is a Cincinnati native who currently resides in Chicago, IL. She serves as a 3rd grade bilingual English/Language Arts teacher at César Chávez Multicultural Arts Center and serves as a teacher representative on the Chávez Local School Council. Ashley was a 2012 Teach For America corps member and taught 3rd at LEARN South Chicago and 2nd grade bilingual education at Peabody Elementary School. She served on LEARN Charter Network’s Social Studies C3 Framework Design Team to develop and align benchmarks for a new standards-based curriculum. As a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow (2016-2017), Ashley collaborated with teachers across the state of Illinois to elevate teacher voice in the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), advocate for an equitable state funding formula, and evaluate year one implementation of Senate Bill 1. Ashley was a lead author of the policy brief “From Zero to SB100: Teachers’ Views on Implementation of School Discipline Reform”, which was published in March 2018. In 2017 Ashley was awarded the Francis and Elliot Lehman Excellence in Teaching Award, an annual award given to an outstanding teacher in the Chicago-Northwest Indiana region. As a community organizer with Illinois for Educational Equity (ILEE), Ashley partners with teachers, families, and community leaders to advance for a more equitable education system for students. She graduated from Amherst College in 2012 with a BA in Political Science and Spanish and received her MAT from Dominican University.