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BC Senior Nathan Kono Awarded Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (February 2011) – Boston College senior Nathan Kono has been named one of 25 recipients of the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color, which will support his master’s degree study at the Lynch School of Education in preparation to teach high school mathematics.

Nathan Kono, a senior at Boston College, has received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color.

Kono, a math major and music minor, said he knew he wanted to become a teacher after filling in for his mother, Amy, a math teacher at his alma mater Hanover (N.H.) High School, when she was recovering from surgery last year.

“I basically took over her five classes for a few weeks,” said Kono, who started out at BC focused on pre-med studies in the footsteps of his father, Alan, a physician. “It was one of those things that by just doing it, I knew right away that this is where I’m headed.”

Kono said it’s an honor to receive one of just 25 fellowships funded annually by WW-RBF to advance prospective teachers of color who want to teach in urban and rural schools throughout America.

“I’m honored to receive this fellowship,” Kono said. “The foundation is so well respected and the WW-RBF fellow network is such a great group to be a part of. Urban education is a very challenging subject area and I think the fellowship will provide me with the support to see me through that. There will be 25 other fellows going through the same thing. I’m honored and excited to have this opportunity.”

The WW-RBF Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color help recruit, support, and retain individuals of color as K-12 public school teachers in the United States. Current trends indicate that by the year 2020, the percentage of teachers of color will fall to an all-time low of five percent of the total teacher force, while the percentage of students of color in the K-12 system will likely be near 50 percent. The fellowships offer an important opportunity to ensure that greater numbers of highly qualified teachers of color enter public school classrooms around the country.

BC Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Donald Hafner said Kono’s undergraduate study in Mathematics and Music will prepare him to provide critical help in two high-need subject areas for urban schools.

“Without question, a key factor in student success in our schools is the wisdom and encouragement of their teachers,” Hafner said. “Students want to learn from their teachers, and they also want to admire them, and Nathan Kono will be an inspiring example in the urban classroom.  He has mastered a difficult major in Mathematics, and like so many talented mathematicians, he also has a passion and a talent for music.  He is just the sort of skilled teacher that the founders of the WW-RBF Fellowship hoped to draw into the urban school classroom, and I am pleased that Nathan has received this recognition and the Fellowships' generous financial support for his graduate preparation for teaching.”

Kono said he plans to pursue his master’s degree at the Lynch School, which this year was named one of just 29 graduate programs qualified to nominate WW-RBF fellows. The fellowship comes with a $30,000 stipend, which Kono said would allow him the freedom to focus on preparing for a career teaching in urban schools.

-- Ed Hayward, an assistant director in the Office of News & Public Affairs, can be reached at