Campus & Community

Harvard Graduate School of Education awards six Conant Fellowships

6 min read

The Harvard Graduate School of Education presented six outstanding educators from the Boston and Cambridge public school systems with James Bryant Conant Fellowships on May 31. Each of the recipients will receive one year of study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).

Cambridge Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Fowler-Finn and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Michael Contompasis Ed.M. ’87 honored the fellows at a Harvard Faculty Club ceremony.

“My congratulations to you,” Contompasis said. “Take advantage of this program. You don’t often get the opportunity to take a year off and look at the things that interest you.”

This year’s recipients are Amy Bisiewicz, the Boston Public Schools’ director of instructional and information technology; Ryan Rud, English teacher at Boston’s English High School; Jonathan Sproul, director of development at Monument High School in Boston; Lynn Brown, humanities teacher at the Martin Luther King Jr. Open School in Cambridge; Joanne Cleary, kindergarten teacher for Cambridge schools; and Timothy O’Connor, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at the Baldwin School in Cambridge.

Contompasis encouraged the recipients to experience all aspects of Harvard and enjoy their time, but to “remember I want you to come back.”

For Cleary, a kindergarten and sixth-grade teacher for 33 years in Cambridge schools, this fellowship couldn’t have come at a better time. “I think this will be revitalizing and open a lot of new ideas, opportunities, and challenges,” she said. “It is a great offer to give a teacher a chance to step back and re-evaluate like this.”

HGSE awards the Conant Fellowships to support the professional growth of outstanding Boston and Cambridge public school teachers and administrators who have shown commitment to public education and demonstrated leadership potential. As a stipulation of the award, fellows are required to continue in their school systems for one year after receiving their advanced degree. Recipients are chosen by the Conant Fellowship Committee, which includes representatives from HGSE as well as the Boston and Cambridge public school systems.

The fellowships, named after the former Harvard University president who was a dedicated supporter of public education and a strong advocate of school reform, were established in 1986 to commemorate the University’s 350th anniversary.

Recipient biographies

Since 2000, Amy Bisiewicz has worked for the Boston Public Schools’ office of instructional and information technology overseeing a variety of technology projects and initiatives for more than 20 Boston schools. Recent projects include support of the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School’s “One-to-One Wireless Learning Initiative,” a citywide collaboration project led by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Bisiewicz will be pursuing a master’s degree in the technology, innovation, and education program to enhance her knowledge of emerging educational technologies, effective technology integration in the classroom, and the enhancement of student learning.

For the past five years Ryan Rud has been teaching English at Boston’s English High School where he also coaches track and soccer. He is a member of the English High School design team, a group dedicated to redesigning the school to create the best possible learning environment for students. Previously, Rud taught in the central valley of California. Rud will be pursuing a master’s degree in the education policy and management program. He is interested in finding effective approaches to meeting the complex needs of urban youth through schools.

Since 2004, Jonathan Sproul has been the director of development at Monument High School. In this role he raised and managed $600,000 in grant funding, designed the course curriculum in forensic science and criminology, and created and managed programs such as the e-Pal Program, an innovative literacy program in which ninth-grade students correspond about classic novels via e-mail with Boston-area professionals. He also serves as the internship director of the Boston Police Athletic League’s Public Safety Internship, providing career training and job placement for more than 150 students. He began his career in education as a high school math teacher at Barnstable (Mass.) High School and also taught special education for Framingham (Mass.) High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. He will pursue a master’s degree in student leadership.

Lynn Brown, humanities teacher at the Martin Luther King Jr. Open School in Cambridge, has taught integrated social studies and English language arts courses to seventh- and eighth-grade students since 1996. From 2003 to 2004, she provided support to students in grades six through eight and worked with teachers systemwide to incorporate adolescent literacy strategies into content areas. She also received community recognition for managing an evening tutorial program for Boston Public School students in grades six through 12. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She will be pursuing a master’s degree in the arts in education program.

Joanne Cleary has taught in the Cambridge Public School system for the past 33 years. Currently, she teaches kindergarten. For the majority of her teaching career she has worked at the John M. Tobin Elementary School, the school all four of her sons attended. She was a member of The Teacher Project, an in-service teacher-as-researcher project, initiated by Jean Bamberger at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and HGSE Professor Eleanor Duckworth; was a collaborating teacher at Project Zero on the Making Learning Visible Project; and is a recipient of the Crystal Award for Preeminence in Teaching. She holds a master’s degree in elementary reading and will pursue a master’s degree through the technology, innovation, and education program to further her interest in integrating technology into the fabric of classroom learning experiences.

Timothy O’Connor has taught in Cambridge for the past 11 years. He began his career at the Harrington School teaching fifth- and sixth-graders. Currently, he is a sixth-grade math and science teacher at the Baldwin School. He has drawn from his experience as a program director and adventure coordinator for Camp Quinapoxet and Brantwood Camp to infuse a model of classroom facilitation based on respect, risk taking, and hard work in his classroom. He is currently an adjunct professor at Lesley University, teaching math and science courses in the education department. He is listed in the “Who’s Who of Cambridge” and was nominated for Disney’s Teacher of the Year in 2004. O’Connor will pursue a specialized master’s degree, hoping to refine his classroom program to create a middle school model of classroom facilitation.