U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the names of eight teachers selected to be Teaching Ambassador Fellows for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. Three teachers will serve as full-time employees at Department of Education headquarters in Washington, D.C., while five will remain in their classrooms and participate on a part-time basis.
"Improving education is about schools and classrooms, so it's vital that the clear and strong voices of teachers and principals guide our work, "said Secretary Duncan. "The Teaching Ambassador Fellows play a critical role in ensuring that we hear directly from classroom teachers across the country and helping us to understand their needs and hopes for students. I am looking forward to working with the 2013 Teaching Ambassador Fellows to continue this work."
Now in the sixth year, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowships were created to give outstanding teachers an opportunity to learn about national policy issues in education and to contribute their expertise to those discussions. Fellows, in turn, share what they've learned with other teachers in their professional networks, contributing to a larger understanding of federal initiatives and encouraging broader input into policy and programs designed to improve education at all levels. The eight new fellows are currently participating in a four-day summit at the Department's headquarters to become more familiar with federal education policy and Department staff, as well as to begin exchanging ideas for enhancing communication between teachers, stakeholders and education policy leaders. The summit jumpstarts their year-long dialogue with Secretary Duncan and department officials about school and classroom practices that advance learning and student achievement.
The 2013 U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellows will continue to work with and build on the efforts of the 80 previous Fellows from the past five classes. Past Fellows have contributed to the Department in numerous ways, including:
Holding hundreds of conversations with thousands of teachers and other stakeholders across the country which helped form the basis of the Department's RESPECT project (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching) to transform the teaching profession and inform policy efforts to support great teachers and leaders;
Bringing direct teacher input and insight into the decision to offer states flexibility in current plans for teacher evaluation systems before data impacts personnel decisions for educators, as well as measures to avoid double-testing as we transition to ambitious new standards and assessments; and,
Informing several efforts to enhance communication directly from ED to teachers, including the Departments' Teaching Matters newsletter and Ask Arne video series.
This year's eight fellows were selected from a pool of over 1200 applications from teachers and instructional specialists serving in traditional public and charter schools, as well as alternative and private schools; from nearly every state, grade level and instructional area, and who teach in a wide variety of urban, rural and suburban settings.
The following three teachers have been selected as Washington Fellows who will be placed to work full-time at the Department of Education's headquarters:
Lisa Clarke, a 2012 Washington Fellow and a social studies teacher from Kent-Meridian High School in Kent, Wash., will serve as the program's inaugural Team Lead and work in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education;
Joiselle Cunningham, a fifth grade reading teacher at KIPP Infinity Middle School in Harlem, will work on teacher quality issues in the Office of the Secretary; and
Emily Davis, a 7th and 8th grade Spanish teacher at Pacetti Bay Middle School, an International Baccalaureate school in St. Augustine, Fla., will work in the Office of Educational Technology
The following five teachers have been selected as Classroom Fellows:
Mauro Diaz, a life science teacher at Dean Morgan Middle School in Casper, Wyo.
Maddie Fennell, a literacy coach at Miller Park Elementary School in Omaha, Neb.
Tami Fitzgerald , a science teacher at West Muskingum High School in Zanesville, Ohio.
Jonathan McIntosh, the Special Education Coordinator and Director of Debate for KIPP AMP (Always Mentally Prepared), a middle school in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Tom McKenna, a fourth grade teacher at Harborview Elementary School in Juneau, AK.
The group is joined by a 2013 Resident Principal, Joshua Klaris, who will advise the Department from an experienced school administrator's perspective and assist in the launch of a 2013 Principal Ambassador Fellowship (PAF) program, expected to be announced later this fall.