Fellowship

The Drive to Teach & Lead

When I drive, I think about my own mortality. Although I’m not typically a nervous person, I still realize how easy it would be to get hurt or killed while in my car. When I first had those thoughts, I wondered what the impact would be if I died right then. I got this strange pleasure knowing that I was a good enough person that my family and my friends would be heartbroken...

CEO Jonas Chartock on "A False Choice"

We’re looking for our first VP of Storytelling & Development in Leading Educators’ 5-year history. I’ve been reflecting on what this role will mean for our organization, why we believe diversity and equity is so important and why I am excited about where we’re headed.

  • This is our moment to tell our story + shape the narrative.  We’ve proven that when given access to skill development and the right leadership roles, teacher leaders increase student achievement, remain in their schools longer than their peers and develop leadership skills that ignite whole school transformation. Our new VP of Storytelling will re-imagine our story, help us tell it and then ensure it quickly spreads throughout the world.
  • The choice between diversity + excellence is false. Diversity is the very means to excellence. I still have conversations with colleagues in the field who are not talking about the business case for diversity and equity. The facts are that diverse teams perform at higher rates than non-diverse teams and the research that shows women often outperform men yet women are not represented in senior leadership. Without diversity and equity, Leading Educators cannot grow from 1,000 Teacher Leaders to 10,000; from serving 200 schools to 2 million students or move from raising $6 million to $20 million over the next three years.
  • If you browse our website, you might note that there are fewer senior leaders of color. You might interpret this fact to mean we do not think a senior leader of color can be successful here. It does not. It means we have significant work to do and we will not shy away from it. We are happy to talk to you personally about what we’re doing to work on this. Studies also show that men often apply for jobs when they only meet 60 percent of the qualifications for a senior role. Women wait until they meet 100 percent. Please do not wait. Please put yourself and others forward.
  • We’re just getting started. Ninety percent (90%) of principals with a Fellow said that our teachers have had a positive impact on their school. In 5 years, we’ve expanded into new regions and nearly 100% of our Fellows remain in education and continue to assume greater leadership and impact within their schools.

Our inaugural VP of Storytelling & Development arrives to a learning organization whose intent is to expand its impact. To learn more, reach out to Ify Offor Walker  or me directly.

Here’s to the next phase and seeing you aboard the teacher leader rocket ship!

RAND Report Shows Early Signs of Success in Leading Educators Fellowship

Today the RAND Corporation released the first stage of a multi-year study on the Leading Educators Fellowship program. This initial report examines the effects of our Fellowship programs in Kansas City and New Orleans on leadership growth, student achievement, and teacher retention. 

The results of the report suggest that the Leading Educators Fellowship improves leadership skills in teacher leaders, shows promise in positively impacting student achievement, and helps retain teachers in high-poverty schools. Below is the press release from RAND, which can also be found here:

Program to Improve School Outcomes and Student Achievement Shows Early Signs of Success

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A program intended to boost student achievement by providing teachers two years of professional development, including formal training sessions and meetings with a leadership coach, is showing early signs of success, according to a new RAND Corporation report. The program also includes the mentoring of other teachers by those receiving these more-intensive efforts.

The fellowship program created by Leading Educators, a national nonprofit based in New Orleans, is showing promising results on student achievement, according to a preliminary evaluation of the effort. The program is unique because it focuses on middle-career teachers, while other efforts typically focus on new teachers, and offers leadership development for classroom teachers.

The fellows participate in a two-year training program consisting of a series of professional development sessions, school visits and meetings with a leadership coach. Fellows can be teachers as well as school administrators. In addition, fellows select other teachers to mentor at their own school. The teachers mentored by the fellows participate in meetings and workshops throughout the school year.

The findings are based on the 2011–12 through 2013–14 school years for fellows and the teachers they mentor located in New Orleans and Kansas City, Mo. Over the study period, there were 255 fellows and 916 teachers mentored. The RAND study focused on teachers that researchers were able to match to state databases for student assessment test scores, which included 75 fellows and 438 mentored teachers.

“Since the leader development program may influence students of the fellows or the other teachers they mentor, our team examined achievement outcomes from students across this wider group,” said Kata Mihaly, the report's lead author and an economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

These early findings of the program are mixed, but suggest that the program shows promise in improving student achievement. Fellows who taught mathematics in New Orleans had a statistically significant positive effect on student achievement. However, the analysis did not find statistically significant findings for other subjects taught by fellows in New Orleans or Kansas City. Teachers mentored by fellows had a positive impact on student mathematics and social studies achievement in New Orleans.

The analysis also examined whether teachers are more likely to stay in the same school or stay teaching in high-poverty schools after participating in the program. Program teachers remained in high-poverty schools at rates that were similar to or higher than that of other teachers in the district.

Researchers note the current results are based on few years of data and on a small sample of teachers, and results may change when there are more fellows and mentored teachers included in future studies. Prior to the evaluation being completed, Leading Educators expanded the fellowship program, with opportunities to participate in Memphis, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

Support for this research was provided by Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

The report, “Examining the Early Impacts of the Leading Educators Fellowship on Student Achievement and Teacher Retention,” is available at www.rand.org. Other authors of the study are Benjamin Master and Cate Yoon.

This research was conducted by RAND Education, a division of the RAND Corporation. Its mission is to bring accurate data and careful, objective analysis to the national debate on education policy.

 

About the RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.

Bezos Foundation Grants Award to Leading Educators

Leading Educators is excited to announce the support of the Bezos Family Foundation. The Foundation seeks to create systemic improvements in how educators and the K-12 education field think about and prepare students for work and life success. The Foundation’s investment in Leading Educators will help train teacher leaders to not only be effective in the classroom, but also lead teacher teams to improve student learning throughout their school. We are excited to welcome the Bezos Family Foundation into the Leading Educators family. With their help we will ensure that even more teacher leaders are equipped to best develop their colleagues to ultimately improve students’ lives.

Teach to Lead: Denver

In early January 2015, Kalpana Kumar-Sharma of Brightwood Education Campus in Washington, DC represented Leading Educators at the second Teach to Lead Summit of the season in Denver, CO. Through her project, Kalpana is creating a team of ‘Health Ambassadors’ that will work to deploy quick health strategies for everyday use across the school.

Kalpana is an early childhood teacher focused on holistic health in her own school and across the nation. As a participant in both the DC Leading Educators Fellowship and the District of Columbia Public Schools Teacher Leadership Innovation (TLI) pilot, Kalpana is well-versed in the power of teacher leadership to affect school-wide change. She is currently training 12 school-based staff (ranging from classroom teachers to social workers and school counselors to physical education teachers) in stress management, deep breathing, and meditative exercises that can be quickly deployed for greater community health. Kalpana has gotten the staff to sign on to dedicating the first 5 minutes of all school meetings to these well-being strategies.

Kalpana says, “Health often gets forgotten in the pursuit of greater student achievement gains. Holistic health – social, emotional, and physical – however, is an integral component of promoting long-term success inside and outside the classroom.” After submitting her idea for the Summit through the Commit to Lead platform, Kalpana and her colleagues, Assistant Principal Justin Ralston and 2nd grade teacher Rachel Rosenberg, attended the Summit in Denver to present and workshop their idea.

While the attitude is often “I don’t have time”, the Health Ambassador Project works to implement small, mindful exercises that promote “a healthier, happier, and more productive school culture”, says Kalpana. At the Teach to Lead Summit, she was able to share her unique idea with other teachers from around the nation. She said creating a 7 minute pitch as well as 30, 60, and 90 day plans was hugely beneficial to selling and implementing her project back in DC. “It was an amazing experience. While I already had some strategies, thanks to Leading Educators, I got tons of helpful feedback from other participants that will strengthen my project. I recognize that I now have a platform [Teach to Lead] to raise my voice and spread awareness.” When describing the experience, Kalpana reminisces about, “getting lost for hours in planning and research with crucial friends who really believe in and support the work.”

Kalpana (left) photographed with her colleagues Rachel and Justin at the Teach to Lead summit in Denver in early January 2015.

Now that she has returned from the Summit, Kalpana is excited to roll up her sleeves and begin large-scale implementation. While her health ambassador team is entirely composed of Brightwood staff at this time, the vision is to eventually engage parents and students as well. And while Kalpana would like to see the program succeed at her own school first, she is starting to devise plans to expand the sphere of influence across the district. She noted that after conducting a yoga session at Seaton Elementary School last semester, she already has their leadership signed on as a potential expansion school. Her whole team is very excited about spreading this work and has begun to identify grant opportunities and secure speakers to expand the scope and level of prestige surrounding the project. We look forward to seeing the results.

District of Columbia Public Schools: Excellence in Teaching Awards

As 2014 drew to a close, the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has released the names of their annual award winners and it has clearly been a great year for Leading Educators’ Teacher Leaders.

DCPS notes the Excellence in Teaching Award as one that, “recognizes the outstanding achievement and dedication of seven DCPS teachers with a $10,000 prize”. Educators from across the district were nominated for the award and a panel of community stakeholders selected the final list of winners. Our Washington, D.C., Leading Educators team was very excited to see that one of their 2013 cohort Fellows, Charisse Robinson, was awarded one of the prestigious awards!

The Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teachers recognizes the success of additional DCPS teachers. “The awards are funded through the generosity of David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group and chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.” 2013 cohort Fellows, Jamila Marston (Elementary Math & Science, Truesdell Education Campus) and Frank Medley (Spanish, Whittier Education Campus), were both recipients of the 2014 Rubenstein Award.

DCPS also announces Principal of the Year and Rubenstein Awards for School Leaders at the end of each calendar year. Chancellor Kaya Henderson surprised Principal Janeece Docal of Powell Elementary School with the Principal of the Year award in late November. Chancellor Henderson said, “When I think about the qualities that make a phenomenal principal, and the qualities that I want in a school leader, both as a parent and as a Chancellor, I think of Janeece Docal. She holds incredibly high expectations for her students, [and] has built a team of people who deliver on those expectations every day”. We couldn’t agree more! Janeece sponsors both Washington, D.C., Leading Educators Fellows as well as DCPS Teacher Leadership Innovation (TLI) Teacher Leaders in her building and is deploying their leadership expertise to drive results across the building. Leading Educators partner schools, Whittier Education Campus, Truesdell Education Campus, and Seaton Elementary School, were also acknowledged for the outstanding leaders driving student achievement through the Rubenstein Awards for School Leaders. Congratulations to Tenia Pritchard (Whittier), Loren Brody (Whittier), Mary Ann Stinson (Truesdell), Cynthia Robinson-Rivers (Seaton), and Kim Jackson (Seaton).

The announcement of Teacher of the Year did not occur until late in December, but it was well worth the wait. DC 2013 cohort member, Charisse Robinson, was named 2014 Teacher of the Year. Charisse has always loved learning and working with children – even as a child herself. Despite spending many years struggling to pass the teacher certification exam, Charisse was not willing to give up on her students and their growth. The classroom was where she was meant to be, so she began working with a colleague after school, prior to her last chance at the exam, to ensure she was able to honor her commitment to her students. Now, 15 years into her teacher career, the Cleveland community is happy that Charisse was able to receive her certification and continue on her path of impactful and holistic educating. Last year, 95% of Charisse’s 3rd graders met or exceeded grade level standards in reading, even though a fourth of her class started the year significantly behind. Her leadership coach, Lori Wilen, says: “Charisse is an absolute pleasure to work with. She is a reflective practitioner and is willing to be open and honest about her own work. She is dedicated to her students and the work of urban education in general. Her passion is contagious and all who enter her presence are fortunate”.

All award winners were honored at the 5th Annual Standing Ovation for DC Teachers at the Kennedy Center on January 12th, 2015.