The TeachStrong campaign brings together teachers unions; teacher voice organizations; and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016.
Washington, D.C. — In the fifth installment of the TeachStrong Story Project, educators from New Hampshire, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, New Mexico, and Indiana discuss what they can do to take action as TeachStrong ambassadors. The TeachStrong campaign is a coalition of 60 leading education groups aimed at making modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority in 2016.
The fifth installment of the TeachStrong Story Project features Heidi Welch, a high school music teacher from Hillsboro, North Carolina; Kyle Schwartz, a third-grade teacher from Denver; Rob Croston, principal of the Jenner Academy of Arts in Chicago; Ann Neary, a high school English teacher in the Bronx, New York; David O’Hara, a high school principal in Brooklyn, New York; Maureen Torrez, an instructional coach at La Mesa Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Thomas Hakim, an 8th-grade math teacher from Indianapolis. In this video, these ambassadors discuss the actions they and other educators can take to help make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession a reality at the state and national levels.
The Story Project is a collection of short videos, longer compilations, and sharable content featuring the TeachStrong ambassadors—a group of nearly 100 educators from 27 states and Washington, D.C. As ambassadors, these exceptional educators advise the TeachStrong coalition on teacher pipeline policies and serve as activists and spokespeople for TeachStrong in their local communities. The program ranges from first-year teachers to 30-year veterans of the profession, as well as principals, deans, school librarians, union chapter leaders, innovators, school founders, and curriculum and instruction experts. Ambassadors were nominated by TeachStrong partner organizations and were selected to participate in the program based on their demonstrated commitment to the campaign’s principles and goals.
In the first compilation video from the Story Project, ambassador Heidi Welch explains the value of social media in spreading the word. She explains, “The more people see TeachStrong in their Twitter feeds, in their social media conversations, the more the word is getting out of ‘What is TeachStrong? How can I be a part of it?’”
Ambassador Kyle Schwartz says, “It is time for educators to come together as a community to speak out.”
Several ambassadors discuss the importance of engaging policymakers in this effort. Ambassador Rob Croston emphasizes the need “to invite policymakers into our schools, to see the real truth: what works, what doesn’t.”
“Politicians need to come out with a platform for education,” says ambassador Ann Neary. “The conversation needs to be, ‘let’s elevate the teaching profession and modernize it, too.’”
Ambassador David O’Hara is confident that policymakers will pay attention now that the TeachStrong coalition has grown from its original 40 partners. He says, “We’re building a network in this coalition and so politicians have to listen.”
Ambassador Maureen Torrez points to the importance of focusing on solutions. She says, “We need to be solutions-based now; we need to start bringing ideas out about what we can actually do to make things different.”
Ambassador Thomas Hakim emphasizes the importance of thinking strategically: “How do we go back to our home states? How do we go back to our individual schools and start to really organize this idea of, ‘the profession needs to be brought up to a higher standard’?”
About the TeachStrong Ambassador Program
The TeachStrong initiative was launched based on a shared understanding among its partners that the expectations on students, teachers, and schools have never been higher, but the systems to prepare, support, and compensate teachers have not been elevated commensurately. The coalition aims to elevate the prominence of this issue among thought leaders, the public, and especially parents and teachers in order to offer concrete policy solutions about how to elevate and modernize the teaching profession. This effort will not be successful without educators. They know firsthand the challenges that they face every day in their classrooms, and they have unique insight into the likely efficacy of potential solutions.
The TeachStrong Ambassador Program is an opportunity for educators from across the United States to enrich this important effort with their experiences and expertise. Ultimately, ambassadors will have a critical role in shaping TeachStrong’s policy positions; engaging others in this effort through traditional and social media; and calling on political leaders to take up this agenda.
More information about the TeachStrong campaign can be found at teachstrong.org.
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