African American Teaching Fellows (AATF) exists to recruit, support, develop and retain highly qualified African-American teachers to work in our public schools. After considerable listening, research, and consultation with local school officials and regional educational leaders, AATF was founded in 2004 by a diverse community group that included members of TJMC. The organization is governed by a Board of volunteers from area churches, school divisions, and businesses, and has received on-going financial underwriting from individuals, local foundations, churches, community organizations, and the annual John Baker Legacy dinner.
TJMC has been a strong supporter of AATF since its inception. Many TJMC members make annual individual donations to AATF, and TJMC has held Social Action Collections for AATF for more than eight years. For the last two years we have provided almost enough to support one Fellow for a full year.
AATF provides Fellows with money for tuition, fees, and books in the form of a forgivable loan. Fellows commit to apply to teach in local schools and then teach here for as many years as they received financial support from AATF. When that contract is fulfilled, their AATF loan is forgiven, and they are counted as “AATF Alumni.” Some Fellows have taught locally for many years and then moved on to other districts. There are currently at least 19 Fellows teaching throughout Virginia, five in Charlottesville City schools and eight in Albemarle County.
The AATF teacher development program works to promote educational leadership skills. Evidence of the success of this effort includes the following:
Brandon Isaiah, in his seventh year of teaching special education classes, coaches varsity football at Albemarle High School. He was selected as the 2016 All-Jefferson District Football Team Coach of the Year.
Brandon Readus, in his fourth year of teaching, is now the gifted resource teacher at Woodbrook Elementary and was a recipient of the Golden Apple Teacher Award for the 2015-16 school year.
Abigail Kayser completed six years of teaching in City and County elementary schools and is currently in her third year of a doctoral program at UVA’s Curry School Department of Curriculum & Instruction.
Tamara Wilkerson taught Spanish at Jack Jouett Middle School for three years and is currently the Executive Director of AATF.
All the money collected in the TJMC Social Action Collection will be used for the Fellows who are currently preparing to become teachers and provide support services for Fellows who are first-year teachers in local schools. (See chart below.)
AATF Fellows Currently in Teacher Education and/or AATF Development Programs
|Cohort 2016 First-Year Teachers||Maria McCullough||Curry School of Ed, UVA||Woodbrook Elementary Third Grade|
|Deandra Irving||Mary Baldwin College||Monticello High Physics|
|Cohort 2017 Student Teachers||Camara Glover||Curry School, UVA 5-year Masters Program||Elementary Education And Gifted Education|
|Jamir Kai||Curry School, UVA 5-year Masters Program||Spanish, K-12|
|Kendra Johnson||Liberty University||Special Education|
|Cohort 2018 May 2018 Graduates||Cameron Fleming||Curry School, UVA 5-year Masters Program||Elementary Education|
|Nikia Ewell||Curry School, UVA 5-year Masters Program||Elementary Education|
The AATF Program Committee will begin interviewing candidates for Cohort 2019 in the spring. They hope to recruit six new Fellows by summer 2017.