Class of ’54 Commitment to Teaching Fellowship Recipients 2010

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 2010 awardee biographies are listed below along with a link to the school in which they teach.  Please visit the 2009 and 2008 Commitment to Teaching pages for information on previous alumni recipients.

Emmalie Dropkin ‘07

imageEmmalie first saw the ways education can perpetuate social injustice while student teaching in Holyoke, MA and Florence, Italy during her years at Amherst, and less than a month after graduation in 2007 she moved to Baltimore, MD to join the Baltimore City Teaching Residency.

She began teaching that fall as the primary special education teacher at Highlandtown Elementary-Middle School and received her Master of Arts in Leadership and Teaching degree from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in 2009. Emmalie is now in her 3rd year teaching and finds her students both challenging and extremely rewarding





Nancy Hawa ‘05

 Nancy graduated from Amherst in 2005 with a degree in Psychology. At Amherst, Nancy worked at Woodside Children's Center and babysat for several professors.  After a three-year side track through law school, she discovered one new passion (through talking people who don't want to be lawyers out of going to law school) and returned to an old one (working with children).  In 2008, she was accepted to the New York Teaching Fellows program and began teaching at a middle school in Brooklyn. She now teaches 7th Grade Special Education at Kingsborough Early College Secondary School.

Dale Henry '00E

After a two year stint in New York City as a client services representative at PR Newswire, Dale moved to a small town in South Texas to take a break from the frenetic pace of city living. He began his teaching career as a substitute in a one high school town in Donna, Texas. After working as a reading tutor in an 'at-risk' middle school in Portsmouth, Virginia, he made a commitment to make teaching his full-time career.

After completing a special education Master's degree and credentialing program at William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, he worked as a special education teacher in Yorktown, Virginia for four years. Currently, Dale is earning his doctoral degree (Ed.D) in Urban Education from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. There he also teaches an Autism class at Belmont High School in
downtown Los Angeles, and conducts a social skills class at Eastlake Juvenile Detention Center in East L.A.

Emily Kennedy ‘07

Emily graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2003 and Amherst College in 2007.  At Amherst, Emily was an studio art major and completed a thesis focusing on landscape paintings.  After college, Emily moved to New York City to join the New York City Teaching Fellows program, through which she began a master’s degree in education at Mercy College.  She began her teaching career as a special educator in a classroom for “emotionally disturbed” children in third through fifth grade, and is currently working in the same classroom.  She now has a group of seven fifth grade boys (three of whom she has been with since third grade!) who are getting ready to graduate this spring. 

After finishing her degree through Mercy College, Emily decided to further her education by enrolling in the developmental psychology master’s degree program at Teachers College, Columbia University, in order to continue to develop her understanding of children and their needs in the classroom.  Emily is passionate about teaching and is eager to develop as an educator so that she can better meet the needs of her students, who are challenging but extremely rewarding to work with!   

Nicole Martí ’00

As a religion major at Amherst, Nicole has long been interested in cultural diversity. During her study abroad semester in Santiago, Chile and her volunteer work with the Cambodian Tutoring program, she became inspired to teach English as a Second Language.  After graduating from Amherst, Nicole returned to Chile to teach English to adults. In 2003, she completed her Master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from New York University’s Steinhardt School.

Nicole is currently in her sixth year of teaching at Newcomers High School, a school for new immigrants to the US.  She works with intermediate and advanced level ESL students, helping them prepare for high school graduation and college level work.  In addition, she is a college advisor at Newcomers, helping young immigrants and their families navigate the college application process. She loves working with ESL students and teaching in a multicultural setting.

Adebayo Owolewa ‘04

Adebayo has always enjoyed the challenge that comes with the study of the Classics. He vividly remembers the course, “Advanced Readings in Latin: The Aeneid,” with Professor Rossi and how it pushed him to be the best learner that he could be. His senior year, he merited the Bertam Prize for excellence in Latin and has been teaching Latin for the past five years.

In 2007, Adebayo was hired by Boston Preparatory Charter Public School to design and implement the Latin curriculum for its new high school. Every day he takes great pride in teaching basic Latin to the underclassmen and bringing to life the unspoken language of Cicero and Caesar to the juniors. In addition to teaching, he also serves as a student-advisor, Head Girls’ Varsity Basketball Coach and is earning his Masters of Education in Teaching and Curriculum at the Boston University School of Education, part-time.

Martina Meijer '06

Martina's 4th grade class

While studying Globalization through Anthropology and Sociology at Amherst, Martina developed an interest in public education and education reform.

Martina's 3D class!



After graduating, she entered the NYC Teaching Fellows program and began teaching fourth grade at PS 310 in Kingsbridge. Four years later, Martina remains at the school and is focused on infusing art and music into the curriculum. She is currently studying Waldorf education in an effort to develop a more well-rounded public school curriculum.

Michael Somerville ‘01

Michael began his teaching career at the American School of Madrid as a first grade teacher.  After three years in Spain, he returned to the US to pursue a teaching position working with at-risk students. He has spent the last five years working in Washington DC as a high school math teacher. Michael currently teaches 9th and 10th grade math at The Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, DC. He is near completion of a master’s degree in education at George Washington University.  Michael is also the girls’ varsity basketball coach at Thurgood Marshall and has initiated a Saturday math study group for his students.

Todd Sutler '98

Todd's class at the New Amsterdam Museum

Todd worked at The Little Red Schoolhouse while attending Amherst. That experience told him that he  would spend the majority of his career working with children. He spent six years working as a bond trader for an investment bank in New York, Toronto and Tokyo before running an after school program for teenage boys in New York City. It discouraged him when he discovered that a number of the high school boys were not receiving any homework assignments. When they shared the fact with him that “Our teachers don’t think we’re smart,” he decided to become a teacher.

Todd's class watching birds in Central Park!

Todd's graduate work was in elementary and middle school education. Last year, he was a co-founding teacher of the third grade at Community Roots Charter School in Fort Green, Brooklyn; he'll help start their fifth grade this fall. He would like to help grow the progressive charter school movement, which focuses on teaching children through experiential learning. Todd believes learning by doing leaves a longer-lasting imprint on a child’s brain then learning by memorization. He believes our country must present alternatives to the majority of successful charter schools whose pedagogy focuses on rote training.