Director's Message: January 2021

Duke TeachHouse: A first of its kind living & learning community of early career teacher-leaders committed to making positive change in education

Finding new ways of doing and being amidst a pandemic... creativity and innovation in action. 

This second edition of the newsletter is a tribute to our local, national, and international education partners. Their support, networks, and collaborative initiatives have grounded TeachHouse’s mission to empower teacher voice and enable innovation and advocacy in K-12 schools and been instrumental in shaping, cultivating, and growing the TeachHouse experience... 

from Dr. Peter Gamwell, distinguished Canadian author and educator and Pino Buffone, Director of Renfrew County District School Board (Ottawa) discussing creativity in the classroom,

to Laxmi Rajak, Trinity Class of 2015 and Shisir Khanal, Co-Founder and CEO of TEACH FOR NEPAL facilitating an in-person collaborative exchange of teaching practices between Nepali educators and TeachHouse Fellows,

to Dr. Betty Sternberg, Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Emerita networking educators from CT and TeachHouse Fellows to examine teacher leadership and school change,

to TeachHouse fellows reflecting on the TeachHouse visit to Finland and ways the trip informed and transformed their thinking about American education and their own teaching practices,

to pre-service teachers and TeachHouse Fellows organizing and piloting the first TeachHouse UnConference for Early Career Teachers.

In 2021, finding new ways of networking and collaborating... as educators and community members. 

Over the past two years (2018 - 2020), TeachHouse Fellows have:  

  • designed and launched the first TeachHouse Unconference for Early Career Teachers, a teacher-led and teacher-driven event organized and facilitated by TeachHouse Fellows and pre-service teachers in Duke’s teacher preparation programs (Fall 2020)

James Hopkins, Principal of Lakewood Elementary:

"This is the type of leadership school administrators across the country crave. Please continue to push for these unconventional and convenient ways to get educators into the same room/virtual space to share experiences and talk about honest challenges and ways they are working to overcome them. Teacher Leadership will become significantly more valuable over the course of the next several decades--so keep leading! While teaching is overwhelming in and of itself, it is uber inspiring to witness both future and veteran teachers step into leadership roles."


  • networked with school, nonprofit, and policy professionals in Washington, D.C. (Fall 2015, Spring 2020) and will co-sponsor the DukeEd Equity in Education event (Spring 2021)

Langley King Ellman, TeachHouse Community Engagement & Partnership Liason: 

"Spending time in Washington, DC allowed fellows the chance to build their professional networks, engage with educational experts, and observe excellence in a variety of school contexts. Growing the TeachHouse learning community beyond Durham allowed fellows to better analyze their own experiences and contribute thoughtful reflections on the DC system. In the current context of the pandemic, we're immensely grateful that our year started with this whirlwind, in-person trip!"

  • partnered with Teach for Nepal on a cultural exchange to support professional development for TeachHouse fellows and teachers in the Tulsipur, Dang, region focused on classroom culture and student-centered lesson design (Summer 2019)


  • visited Ottawa area public schools with Pino Buffone (Director of Education) and Peter Gamwell (distinguished Canadian educator) to explore creativity and innovation in the classroom (Spring 2019)


  • observed all levels of Finnish public education from Pre-K to 12 and university teacher preparation programs to broaden understanding of a successful national education structure (Spring 2018)

With gratitude to our partners and wishing each of you peace and good health over the holidays and throughout the new year,

Jan Riggsbee