Last month, OII said a fond farewell to Director of Teacher Quality Programs Peggi Zelinko. Peggi retired at the end of November after 19 years of service at the Department of Education.
Peggi was named the Director of the Teacher Quality Programs (TQP) in OII in 2005. In that role, she oversaw a number of discretionary grant programs focusing on teacher quality and school leadership. These programs have included Transition to Teaching, Troops to Teachers, Teaching American History, the National Writing Project, the School Leadership Program, Supporting Effective Educator Development, and Teacher Quality Partnerships. She also served for a year as acting director of the Investing in Innovation (i3) program, while maintaining her leadership role of TQP. Before her leadership role with TQP, Peggi served as a program officer for the Transition to Teaching program and team leader for the School Leadership Program in OII, and as the program officer for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s teacher quality initiatives.
Peggi was a practitioner as well as a policy maker. Formerly a staff member with the U.S. Department of Labor and the West Virginia State Department of Education, she also worked as a teacher educator at the collegiate level and as a high school marketing teacher. Her work at ED was defined by this background in education. One of her chief goals as a program director was to ensure that programs show results. “To what end?” was one of her signature comments when assessing grant program activities.
Peggi’s staff in the TQP office held a farewell party recently and staff members recalled some of the qualities that defined her role as a leader and mentor. Tyra Stewart and Harry Kessler noted that Peggi always made an effort to understand employees’ needs to balance work and family responsibilities, especially when employees were facing family emergencies.
On her last day on the job, Peggi thanked her colleagues for their support and said, “You have heard me say many times that I can do two minutes on anything, but when I get to the third minute I always have to turn to those who really do the work and know the facts — that was you.” She also recalled a portion of Little Gidding, the last of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, that she said defined her view of retirement: “What we call the beginning is often the end and to make and end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
Peggi earned a B.S. in business management from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in education from the University of Pittsburgh, and an Ed.D. from Temple University. She and her husband, Ed Davis, are currently making plans to build a beach home in Delaware to celebrate their retirement and open a rewarding new chapter in their lives. Good luck, Peggi!
Christine Miller is team leader for the Teaching American History Program in the Teacher Quality Programs division of the Office of Innovation and Improvement.