2019 Class of ’54 Alumni Awards

Location: United States

Class of ’54 Commitment to Teaching Fellowship for Alumni Recipients 2019

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 2019 awardee biographies are listed below.

View the Program Book Here

Tian Buzbee ’13 discovered a passion for teaching math during high school in Atlanta, GA. When she ventured north to attend Amherst, she majored in Mathematics and Studio Art. In an Amherst Reading/Writing/Teaching class, Tian realized her love for working with teenagers while teaching students at Holyoke High. Through a placement with Teach for America, Tian moved to New Orleans to teach high school. She was fortunate to be hired by Riverdale High School, which is where she remains to this day. At Riverdale, she is chair of the Math Department and a member of the school Leadership Team, as well as the Flag Team coach. Tian’s three favorite things about Riverdale are the school’s diversity, her students’ senses of humor, and the way she is empowered as a Geometry teacher to be as creative and weird as she wants. Tian believes it is most important for students to be curious, kind, and active participants in their lives. She serves as a senior board member for the Collective GNO, Teach For America’s alumni of color organization. Tian has a Masters of Arts in Teaching through Relay Graduate School of Education. 

Daniel Calvert ’09 is a second grade special education teacher at Bronx Community Charter School in New York. While at Amherst, Daniel created an Interdisciplinary major in Race and Ethnic Studies, double majored in Spanish, served as co-chair of La Causa, and was Hip-Hop Music Director of WAMH. He grew up in Brooklyn and returned home to New York City after graduating, entering teaching through Teach for America. He worked for three years as a kindergarten special educator at P.S. 48 in Washington Heights while earning his master’s degree in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education. After time in Boston, Daniel returned to New York to join Bronx Community Charter School. He believes in implementing a progressive, developmentally appropriate approach to education with a focus on social justice in order to provide a more equitable education for poor, black, and Latinx students.

Michaela Duggan ’11 graduated from Amherst with a degree in Biology and an interdisciplinary degree focused on Educational Inequality. After graduation, she joined Teach For America and taught 5th grade science for two years in a refugee and immigrant community in southeast Nashville, TN. In addition to teaching, Michaela founded and lead a Healthy Schools Team to support the physical and mental health of students, teachers, and families. While in Nashville, Michaela earned her M.Ed from Lipscomb University. For the last six years, Michaela has been teaching 6th grade science at Boston Collegiate Charter School where she also serves as Grade Level Leader and runs a STEM club. During the summers, Michaela has worked as an instructional coach and curriculum specialist at the Teach For America summer training Institute or taught summer school. She is part of the SciEd Innovators Fellowship, a program that focuses on bringing democratic science teaching to classrooms.

Suraj Gopal ’07 majored in music while at Amherst College. Suraj began his journey as an educator as a graduate fellow in the music department. He immediately felt at home leading ear training labs and assistant directing the choral society. In particular, his positive experience teaching non-major students beginner music theory pointed the way forward to a career helping students with significant academic needs. After a year in Boston tutoring, he moved to New York City. Teaching Artist and substitute teaching positions in public and charter schools were followed by a stint as a student advocate at an after-school program in Harlem. In 2011, he joined New York City Teaching Fellows and began teaching special education full-time, which he does to this day. Suraj taught at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies from 2011-2016, and has been at Special Music School since the fall of 2016. Along the way, he has run multiple music clubs, coached boys’ soccer, and facilitated the school chapter of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. At SMS, he focuses on teaching quantitative subjects to special populations, and also facilitates a student-run recording studio.

Saskia Fabricant ’09 began her career tutoring formerly truant and at-risk youth in the Boston area before going abroad to Ecuador to teach English. She obtained her M.A. in Teaching English as a Second language in 2013 and subsequently taught ESL and French at Lawrence High School, a school that was placed in state receivership due to consistently low performance. After teaching in Lawrence for two years, Saskia had the opportunity to help develop a new Sheltered English Immersion program at Fenway High School in Boston. There she taught ESL and Humanities as well as serving as the Language Acquisition Team Facilitator. In 2018 she joined the founding team of the Pathways Program at the High School of Commerce in Springfield as an English Language Development specialist. Saskia serves on the Teacher Leadership Team and advises the LGBTQIA+ club. In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking, reading, cooking, and traveling.

Tom Anderson ’10 graduated from Amherst College with a degree in English. Tom is now in his ninth year teaching high school special education science classes in the New York City public school system. He began teaching through the New York City Teaching Fellows program in 2010, after getting his feet wet with the teaching profession with an internship at America Reads and the Reading, Writing, Teaching course at Amherst. Tom has been recognized by Math for America with a Master Teacher fellowship and by the Teacher Leadership Quality Program with another fellowship. He has also begun a teacher coaching program in his school in which he delivers staff training and professional development workshops to a staff of over 200 teachers. Tom founded a robotics team, developed websites to host teaching materials, and has written a series of grants that helped bring in over $500,000 to purchase laptops, tablets, and a rebuilt greenhouse for the students at his school. This year, Tom is piloting his school’s first integrated Chemistry classes, in which students with disabilities are offered seats in the general education classroom, making a higher-level science course available to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to take it.