Leadership

Leadership Policy
The Need for a Social Studies Coordinator
April 4, 2018
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The Need for a Social Studies Coordinator

Jeff Gray
@iteachushistory

Let me briefly introduce myself to you. I am a twenty-five-year veteran teacher and have taught social studies in Tennessee for thirteen years. I’ve also taught for six years as an adjunct professor in a college of education and am currently a Tennessee Hope Street Group Fellow. In addition, I am the founder of the First Tennessee History Alliance which provides monthly professional development opportunities for teachers in the First CORE Region.
In the Classroom Leadership
It Is Imperative for My Students to Be Global Citizens
February 15, 2018
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It Is Imperative for My Students to Be Global Citizens

Melissa Collins
@CollinsNBCT

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize is a $1 million award presented annually to an individual that has made a major contribution to education. This prize vets and rewards teachers around the world, with the foundational belief that educators should be recognized, highlighted, and celebrated for the work that they do for the profession.
Leadership Professional Learning
My Leadership Story
January 28, 2018
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My Leadership Story

Melissa Collins
@CollinsNBCT

I am Dr. Melissa Collins, and I am a nationally known teacher leader. I have received National Board Certification, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, the Horace Mann Teacher Excellence Award, West Tennessee Teacher of the Year, and was recognized as a 2018 Global Teacher Prize Finalist to name a few. I have conducted leadership and instructional workshops to inspire teacher leaders. These accomplishments have helped me to strive as a leader in and outside the classroom.  Even though I am a successful educator, I overcame many obstacles to get where I am today.
Leadership
The Importance of School Leadership
January 21, 2018
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The Importance of School Leadership

Kenneth Chadwell
@kchadwell2014 

It has always been my belief that nothing can have a larger impact on a student's learning than a teacher. It seems that sometimes we forget about the impact of school leadership on the teacher. During most of my seventeen-year teaching career, I was under the belief that a good teacher can overcome a bad school administrator. That is no longer my belief. I think that the choice of who will lead a school has become the number one factor of how successful a school will be.
In the Classroom Leadership
For Such a Time as This
January 15, 2018
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For Such a Time as This

Mark Wittman
@wittmanmarks

As I have reflected over the past 23 years of my teaching career, the scripture “for such a time as this” seemed to be the theme of my involvement with education. It was “for such a time as this” that I made the move from western Kansas and settled in the inner city of Memphis, TN. I settled in Memphis with 9 years of teaching experience and a heart to serve the community. My willingness, skills, and passion allowed me to be instrumental in opening a Faith-Based school where I served as a kindergarten teacher. Helping open this school was just the first stepping-stone of my future in Memphis. It was the first of the many experiences that were revealing to me that I was in Memphis “for such a time as this.”
In the Classroom Leadership
Synergy
December 10, 2017
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Synergy

Hayley Cloud
@hcloud_tn

The Wright brothers created the world’s first powered airplane because they shared the same curiosity and intellect. Michael Jordan completed 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association with the help of a skilled team. Helen Keller devoted much of her life to raising awareness for people with disabilities after overcoming challenges with the help of Annie Sullivan. Martin Luther King Jr. had a grand impact on the Civil-Rights Movement because of the many demonstrators that followed him in his efforts. For centuries, some of the most influential people in history have changed the world as a result of synergy. Synergy is when two or more people interact, cooperate, or collaborate to produce a greater result.  Synergy is vital to creating effective schools.
In the Classroom Leadership
Find Your Mrs. P
October 22, 2017
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Find Your Mrs. P

Jeff Gray
@iteachushistory

My experience as a first year teacher is not unlike many others in the teaching profession. I was fresh out of school, ready to change the world. My first teaching job found me in a large southern city with a sordid, but progressive history in public education. I was assigned to teach 8th grade social studies in a large middle school located physically in a solid middle class suburb. However, our student population was anything but solid middle class. Through the then constitutional busing policy, our student population was majority minority with a high percentage of free and reduced lunch. Our faculty was full of “newbies” just like me, trying to change the world.
Leadership Policy
Public Education is Vital to the Success of our Students
October 1, 2017
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Public Education is Vital to the Success of our Students

Stacy Jones
@stacyjonestned 

Ispent this week at a meeting in Nashville reviewing end-of-course assessment items for Tennessee’s state department of education. I have contracted independently in this endeavor for the past two years, and I’m sure that many—even some fellow educators—might question the potential interest level in such an activity. However, I enjoy it immensely. It connects me to the objectives I’m trying to achieve for my students in my public school classroom, based on our specified standards, and it keeps me engaged as an educator. Scrutinizing reading passages and their connected test questions most certainly requires a high level of critical thinking.
Leadership Policy Professional Learning
Get Caught in the “Web” of Teacher Leadership
August 29, 2017
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Get Caught in the “Web” of Teacher Leadership

Maureen Henderson
@MaureenHender18

Imagine a spider spinning a web.  It begins with individual fibers, then works to strengthen them, carefully finishing with their connection.   Across the state of Tennessee there are many strands of teacher leadership being spun.  Amazing initiatives and programs have been put in place to reinforce them.  What does it look like when these pieces are woven together to create a strong, powerful design?
Leadership Policy Professional Learning
Once a Fellow, Always a Fellow
June 22, 2017
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Once a Fellow, Always a Fellow

Diarese George
@DiareseGeorge

What’s my next move? What are my options? Are there opportunities for growth beyond the classroom? In the classroom? This time last year, these were questions that I had asked myself. At the time, I had just completed my fourth academic year of teaching and wondered what my professional trajectory looked like in the coming years. I transitioned into education after working in business for six years after college. In business, there was always an understanding that if you came into an entry-level role, depending on the company, you should be preparing for upward mobility within 2-3 years. Having surpassed that timeframe in the classroom, I was anxious to see what my next steps in the profession would be. That’s when I came across teacher education fellowship opportunities after reading Commissioner McQueen’s monthly Educator Update. (See past updates and sign up to receive them here.)

I decided to apply to Hope Street Group’s State Teacher Fellowship, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education’s Tennessee Educator Fellowship, and Education Pioneers Summer Fellowship. I was surprised to be accepted to each of them! At the conclusion of this year, I have completed each fellowship. Reflecting on them, I see they each offered unique experiences that have equipped me to be a better educator.

My Education Pioneers Fellowship placed me at the Tennessee Department of Education in the Office of Licensure and Educator Preparation. Last summer I worked on a project that explored the opportunities and challenges of school districts collaborating with education preparation programs to create partnerships. Working at this level helped me to see education from a broader lens, especially regarding an initiative like that. That experience helped me to reframe my thought process and view situations from different perspectives. It also gave me access to executive directors across various departments, professional development with the Commissioner, and a chance to view the Department’s five Education Priorities at work in real time.

I participated in both the Hope Street Group and SCORE Fellowships at the same time during the 2016-2017 academic year. The Hope Street Group Fellowship connected me with other teachers and local and national policymakers to give feedback on critical education policy issues, while serving as a spokesperson for positive change in the profession. I also was able to provide feedback to the Department of Education regarding professional development, chronic absenteeism, and RTI2. Additionally, Fellows convened throughout the year to receive advocacy training to aid in our roles. Three of the most helpful things that I learned are how to utilize Twitter for professional development, how to participate in and host Twitter chats, and how to conduct a meaningful focus group.

The SCORE Fellowship selects teacher leaders from across the state to train them to advocate and elevate their voices to support and advance student-focused education policy. SCORE provided the historical context of education policy in Tennessee, including where the state started and how it became the fastest improving in the country. This Fellowship connected me with key individuals and policymakers who played a role in the state’s improvement. It also equipped and empowered me to lead my own advocacy project, which centered on supporting educators of color in Tennessee. SCORE convened Fellows four times throughout the year to provide both advocacy training to support our projects and opportunities to meet key stakeholders, including Commissioner McQueen, executive directors from national education reform organizations, state legislators, and gubernatorial candidates.

My participation in each one of these fellowships has left me feeling enlightened, equipped, and energized to continue to engage in the policy work that I have begun. As my fellowships concluded, I remind myself that the work is just starting. We need more educators involved in education policy and engaging policymakers. When highly effective educators inform and shape education policies based on their practical knowledge and experience of excellent teaching and learning, the results are better for students. I highly recommend any of these fellowships to any educator who is looking to advocate on behalf of students and make an impact in the policy space. Each one of these fellowships proclaim once a Fellow, always a Fellow. For that, I will forever be connected to these organizations, their ongoing work, and the future Fellows who participate in them.

Diarese has taught Business courses at Clarksville High School for the past three years. In that time, he has served as a lead instructor for the school’s career Academy, member of the Instructional Leadership Team and an Academy lead in cross­-curricular collaboration for project­-based learning. He is a graduate of his district’s Leadership Development course, and a district­-wide Professional Development facilitator for Microsoft Excel training. Diarese holds a BBA in Marketing and Management and M.A. in Corporation Communications from Austin Peay State University, MBA from University of Phoenix and an Ed.D. in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University. He also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging his colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.