Center for American Progress

RELEASE: In Second Installment of the TeachStrong Story Project, Educators Explain What We Must Do to Retain Great Teachers
Press Release

RELEASE: In Second Installment of the TeachStrong Story Project, Educators Explain What We Must Do to Retain Great Teachers

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. — The second installment of the TeachStrong Story Project, launched this week, features TeachStrong ambassadors sharing how they entered the profession and what all teachers need in order to meet the increasingly high expectations placed on students and teachers. The TeachStrong campaign is a coalition of nearly 60 leading education groups aimed at making modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority in 2016.

The second installment of the TeachStrong Story Project features high school English teacher and career-changer Ann Neary, from the Bronx, New York City; National Board Certified Teacher and math coach Karen Gant, from Miami; Kyle Schwartz, a third-grade teacher from Denver; Mike Lerchenfeldt, a seventh-grade science teacher at Iroquois Middle School in Macomb, Michigan; and Maureen Torrez, an instructional coach at La Mesa Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These ambassadors explain what motivated them to enter the classroom and what we as a country need to do in order to attract and retain great teachers.

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 new videos, ambassador Ann Neary says, “I really thought about life and what was important,” citing the events of 9/11 as a key reason why she decided to give up her career in business to become a teacher. She also discusses the importance of elevating our standards for how we recruit and retain teachers.

Ambassador Kyle Schwartz explains how she was supported by a residency program in her first year: “For that entire year, I got coaching, support, [and] feedback. And that’s what really made me the teacher I am today.”

“The TeachStrong campaign is fueled by the exceptional teachers from across the country who, as TeachStrong ambassadors, have dedicated their time and energy to helping ignite a national conversation about how to better support our teachers,” said Catherine Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Their personal stories reflect a collective hope that policymakers can work toward improving the teaching profession for all teachers.”

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 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

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact