You teach because you want the best for your students.  There is so much they can learn.  Unfortunately, decisions made by people far from your classroom, do not always put kids first.  But if they knew your kids, if they spent time in your classroom, maybe they would.  Imagine that when decisions were made affecting your students, a real teacher’s voice was heard.Lee-Stein3

Like you, my students’ success is my greatest desire. When my algebra students ask “Will I ever use this?” I respond “After I graduated the internet was invented, the cellphone, GPS, and soon the self-driving car. What will you do?”  After part I of TNReady last year, I was disheartened when my most advanced students spoke of their frustrations.  As an educator and scientist, I knew I had to do more for my students.

My wife, a fellow teacher, encouraged me to apply for the SCORE Tennessee Educator Fellowship.  When I read the bios of previous fellows, I was a little intimidated.  These were great teachers.  Even though I entered the teaching profession with a degree in engineering, I knew my limitations. Yet I had to do something for my students.  For them, I took the time and applied.  I wanted their voice to be heard.

Wow, have I been encouraged.  Unlike the atmosphere of your typical faculty meeting, these fellow educators are truly inspiring.  They positively believe we can do better for our students.  If we were all in the same school, it would be unstoppable.  We all know our students deserve more.

I have also learned so much through the fellowship.  I am astounded at my fortune for being a teacher in Tennessee and not somewhere else.  We ARE the fastest-improving state.  I am humbled, by the unwillingness of our state leaders in education to allow our students to stay at the bottom.

ILee-Stein4 have met real policymakers and state legislators who want to hear about my students, who value the voice of a real classroom teacher.  They value my expertise.  They want to put our kids first, and SCORE is providing me the skills to make sure my voice is heard.  Training me in advocating for students among my fellow teachers, parents, the general public, and those who make decisions that directly affect my classroom and yours.

Maybe you are disheartened like I was about last year’s state test or are disappointed that there is no data from last year.  We as educators have been given a moment to capitalize on the work done by those before us.  The decades of student data have given us an incredible gift in understanding where we have been.  Standards have been raised for students, and assessments are being developed to better measure student learning.

More people need to hear about the needs of your students and how they deserve more.  As teachers, we transform our students and by doing this we create the future.  Why not be a part of shaping the educational landscape in Tennessee?  Don’t worry you won’t have to leave your students behind.  You will learn how as a teacher you can make their needs heard beyond your classroom walls and into the ears of those making decisions that directly affect them. Apply. Join your fellow teachers who know the best thing we can do for our future is put our students first.