Elizabeth Shotwell of Mifflinville, a student in Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Curriculum and Instruction doctoral program, has been selected for the inaugural class of William Penn Fellows. Only 10 students were chosen for the program.

William Penn Fellow Elizabeth ShotwellThe William Penn Fellowship was created in 2016 by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and is housed in the Office of Administration. The program provides aspiring professionals with advanced degrees the opportunity to serve and learn with the state's top executive leaders.

Fellows will work to improve the overall effectiveness of state government by serving on projects that align with the Governor's priorities of Jobs that Pay, Schools that Teach, and Government that Works.

Shotwell was selected to receive the Charter Schools Fellowship with the Department of Education under the Schools that Teach category. She will begin working in the program on July 31, 2017, and will be a Fellow through August 2, 2019. At the conclusion of her work, she will present the results to the Governor and other senior officials.

In addition to the educational requirement, selection as a William Penn Fellow is based on a combination of the following:

  • Established excellence in academics and/or professional achievement
  • Proven leadership ability and potential for further growth
  • Demonstrated commitment to public service
  • Evidence of effective teamwork and working well with others

The application process is a rigorous one; applications are reviewed, applicants are screened via telephone interviews, and they must travel to Harrisburg for in-person interviews.

Shotwell, a graduate of William Allen High School, received her bachelor's degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and her master's degree in Alternative Education from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. She expects to complete her IUP doctoral studies in 2017. She has been taking her coursework at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg, but has presented at IUP Technology Days. Her dissertation is focused on the instructional impact of the inclusion of outdoor education.

“I've been teaching for almost 14 years, with experiences in preschool, elementary, and, most recently, within a secondary level cyber charter school for the past 11 of those years,” Shotwell said. “When I entered the doctoral program at IUP, I wanted to find a way to have a positive impact on public education in the United States. I originally planned to go into higher education, with the idea that training future teachers will make that significant impact.

“While I still plan to eventually work in higher education at some point in my future, this fellowship is an immediate way to work within the state of Pennsylvania to impact education and Pennsylvania's students,” she said.

Shotwell, who chose the area of charter school public policy as a focus for her Fellows work, is hoping to address the issues of teacher effectiveness and best practices in charter schools.

Shotwell's own story includes coming from an at-risk background, “one of those students who should never have made it” in higher education, “but I worked extremely hard and continually set goals in regards to furthering my education,” she said. “I also had teachers and professors who saw beyond circumstances and pushed me to succeed. I think every child deserves that same treatment.”

Fellows will begin their work with an orientation period designed to educate them on how the government works and fits together.