Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces Nine Teachers as 2015-2016 Teaching Ambassador Fellows

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces Nine Teachers as 2015-2016 Teaching Ambassador Fellows

September 11, 2015

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the names of nine teachers selected to be Teaching Ambassador Fellows for the 2015-2016 school year. Three of the teachers will serve as full-time employees at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., while six will remain in their classrooms and participate on a part-time basis.

“The Teaching Ambassador Fellows have made the Department stronger every year,” said Duncan. “I look forward to working with the 2015 Teaching Ambassador Fellows, along with the Principal Ambassador team, in the coming year. Like previous fellows, through their unique expertise and outreach, these educators will add tremendously to our ability to engage and elevate teachers as they work to help all of our students excel and access a great future.”

This year’s cohort of Ambassador Fellows brings the total number of outstanding teachers and principals who have served in this role to over one hundred. In 2014, the Department chose to launch an exclusively Alumni-staffed Fellowship year with Emily Davis, Tami Fitzgerald, and James Liou in full-time positions; Patrice Dawkins-Jackson, Antero Garcia, JoLisa Hoover, and Katie Taylor in part-time roles; and Maddie Fennell working in a hybrid role as an Ambassador for Teach to Lead. The 2014 Team made essential contributions as the engine behind Teach to Lead, which has spotlighted the need for expanded teacher leadership opportunities as a critical component of quality teacher recruitment and retention efforts. They ensured that practitioners’ perspectives were well represented in efforts like Future Ready and White House Summits on topics such as the Future of Gaming and School Discipline. Finally, as a team, they provided direct outreach to over 6,000 teachers and other stakeholders to discuss everything from teacher accountability and student assessment to parent and community engagement through a variety of roundtable discussions, panels and other events.

Now in its eighth year, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship Program was created to give outstanding teachers an opportunity to learn about national policy issues in education and to contribute their expertise to those discussions. The role is a paid position in which Fellows, in turn, share what they’ve learned with other teachers in their professional networks, contributing to a larger understanding of federal initiatives and gaining broader input into policy and programs designed to improve education at all levels.

The 2015 Teaching Ambassador Fellows will launch their outreach during this year’s annual Bus Tour.

The following three teachers were selected as Full-Time Washington Fellows:

  • JoLisa Hoover, a founding 2008 Classroom Fellow, 2014 Alumni Fellow and 4th grade teacher from River Ridge Elementary in Leander, Texas
  • Aman Dhanda, a 6th grade teacher from Woodland Prairie Elementary in Woodland, California
  • Meredith Morelle, an Instructional Coach from the Capitol Hill Campus of Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in Washington DC

The following six teachers were selected as Classroom Fellows:

  • Julia Dezen, a New Teacher Manager for FirstLine Schools and Lower School Math Director for Samuel K. Green Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Patrick Kelly, an AP U.S. Government teacher at Blythewood High School in Richland School District 2, in suburban Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Matthew Presser, a Literacy Instructional Coach at King/Robinson Magnet School, a K-8 school in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Josalyn Tresvant McGhee, the Instructional Facilitator for Kate Bond Elementary School part of Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Mark Sass, a History Teacher at Legacy High School in Adams 12 School District in Broomfield, Colorado
  • Nancy Veatch, a 5th and 6th grade teacher at Bend Elementary School, a small rural school that is part of the Evergreen Union School District in Cottonwood, California

All of the Department’s Teaching Ambassador Fellows have been selected in part based on their deep leadership experience, and most of the 2015 Fellows serve in official teacher leader roles within their schools and districts.