TeachHouse in DC: 2015

National Connections: U.S. Department of Education and Leading Educators (nonprofit) 

Inaugural TeachHouse fellows (left to right) visiting the Department of Education in Washington, DC:  Shannon Potter, Benton Wise, Erin McInerney, Ashley Pollard, Scott Ellis, and Mary Margaret Mills.
October 25-26, 2015 

Duke TeachHouse fellows traveled to DC for a roundtable discussion at the Department of Education (DOE) with policymakers and educators focused around their work as TeachHouse fellows and early career educators in the North Carolina public schools.

The best part of traveling to the Department of Education was sitting in a room of policymakers and educators who respect how large of an impact teachers have on students in the classroom and in turn, do as much to include teacher voice within the process of policymaking… As a new teacher I felt valued as a professional, included in a national conversation, and challenged to innovate within my profession to increase student achievement. --Benton Wise

DOE attendees included Elizabeth Ross (Evaluation and Support Systems, Equity, Turnaround, Charters, and Tribal Waivers); Joiselle Cunningham (K12 Policy, White House Liaison, Diversity); Roger Nozaki (Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary); Charlie Doolittle (Policy); Shannon Mitchell (Teacher Incentive Funds, Office of Innovation and Improvement); Vanessa Tesoriero (Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs); (Meredith Morelle (Policy -TAF); Aman Dhanda (Teacher Leadership - TAF); Mia Long and Jenese Jones (2015 Fellows, Leadership for Educational Equity Policy Advisor).

The trip… invigorated my spirits and helped me view my profession from a new lens. Before, I considered the teaching and learning that occurs in my classroom to be relatively isolated compared to the larger scale decisions made at the federal  level. After our meetings with policy makers and teacher leaders, I came to realize that those working on a larger scale education initiatives have the same hopes and dreams for K-12 children as I do. --Ashley Pollard

TeachHouse fellows networking with Leading Educators.

Fellows also visited DC schools to observe in classrooms and meet with school faculty and administrators to discuss teacher leadership, reform, and innovation in public education. They also met over dinner with the regional and associate directors of Leading Educators, a nonprofit focused exclusively on teacher leadership. Plans are in place for ongoing collaborative work between Duke TeachHouse and Leading Educators Fellows.

My experience opened my eyes to the number of nonprofits and government programs devoted to teacher leadership, innovation, and development, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue as we strive to bridge the gap between policy and teacher voice. --Scott Ellis

Following the visit in November,  Laurie Calvert (Teacher Liaison with the Department of Education) and Nikki Diamantes (Regional Director of Leading Educators) will lead virtual seminars with Duke TeachHouse and Leading Educators fellows to include a debrief of the DC experience, brainstorm of ongoing collaborative work, and discussion of teacher leadership and teacher impact on policy.