My first year in a middle school, I was the only teacher in my grade level and subject area. Because I didn’t have a teaching partner, I readily sought opportunities to collaborate with other educators to better support my students and classroom instruction. While looking for ways to connect with teachers in my content-area, I discovered possibilities with the Tennessee Department of Education.
I served as a TNCore Coach in 2015 and in this role I learned of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship. I quickly began to research the fellowship and in doing so saw fellows were educators from across the state who taught various grades and subjects. More importantly, I realized it provided teachers the opportunity to shape educational policy that directly impacts their students.
As a fellow, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge that has helped me understand the history of education within our state. All of which explained how Tennessee became the fastest-improving state in the nation in 2013, based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and how we’ve continued to make gains. Having greater insight into the push for more rigorous standards, I recognize the need to help my students become college and career ready. Through the fellowship, I’ve been equipped with the tools to share this information with community stakeholders, school district leaders, and parents as we collectively work to prepare students for success beyond high school graduation.
My greatest take away from the fellowship is the power I’ve discovered from teacher voice. Who better to discuss the realities, needs, and direction of future policy than those in the classroom? The Tennessee Educator Fellowship has given me both the resources and support to do just that.
I strongly encourage any and every educator who is interested in working proactively for the needs of their students to apply to the fellowship. You will find this an invaluable experience that will allow you to learn the skills necessary to support the needs of your students and others across the state.