Teach Plus Massachusetts Names 21 Highly Effective Teachers To Cohort of Policy Fellows

Teach Plus Massachusetts Names 21 Highly Effective Teachers To Cohort of Policy Fellows

Boston, MA, September 7, 2023 — Teach Plus, a national teacher leadership organization, has selected 21 demonstrably effective teachers from around Massachusetts for its 2023-2024 Policy Fellowship cohort. The Fellows will focus on developing policy solutions to advance issues of importance to students and teachers across the Commonwealth, including early literacy, early childhood education, diversifying the teaching profession, and ensuring students and educators have access to a fair and reliable assessment system.

The 2023-2024 Policy Fellows will continue the work of the previous Teach Plus Massachusetts cohort of teacher leaders, advocating for legislation such as An Act to Expand Access to High-Quality, Affordable Early Education and Care and The Educator Diversity Act, and advancing efforts to support Massachusetts’ BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students and educators. The Fellows’s work will be grounded in the data of what students and communities want from their education system and what levers have led to previous progress.

“Massachusetts just celebrated 30 years since the passing of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. In the past three decades, we have made a lot of progress and there is a lot that still needs to be done. It is imperative that we have a diverse and highly qualified group of educators at the table as we look to build upon our efforts and work toward ensuring all students in Massachusetts have access to a high-quality and equitable education system,” said Christopher Marino, Teach Plus Massachusetts Executive Director.

“I hope to use my Teach Plus Policy Fellowship experience to actively shape the future of education for my students. I am excited to be part of a program that elevates educators’ voices and creates opportunities to convey impactful messages to policy makers and stakeholders,” said Elsa Herraez Hernandez, a science teacher at the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and 2023-2024 Teach Plus Massachusetts Policy Fellow.

The new cohort includes a Massachusetts State Science Teacher of the Year, Massachusetts Finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Framingham’s Talent of the Year, two Sontag Prize recipients, and several educators serving on committees in both their school districts and with DESE. With 40 percent of the cohort identifying as teachers of color—compared to 8.5 percent of teachers statewide—Teach Plus Massachusetts Policy Fellows are reflective of the diversity of the state and its students. The Fellows hail from urban, rural, and suburban areas and all corners of the Commonwealth, from Boston to New Bedford, Northampton to Milford. The teachers come from a variety of settings, including district schools, charter schools, and early childhood centers, and teach a variety of subjects and age levels from early childhood to 12th grade.

Throughout the program, the Fellows are trained in policy, advocacy, research, and communications and develop the skills necessary to advocate for changes for Massachusetts’ students. Each Fellow was chosen based on their strong commitment to the classroom and to equity, their ability to articulate the needs of their students, and their pursuit of excellence and innovation in their teaching.

“What brought me to the fellowship was the opportunity to advocate for students in an environment outside the classroom. I am very excited to connect and collaborate with other professionals who share a passion for maximizing our students’ experience and opportunities in and out of the classroom,” said Sean Agustynowicz, special education teacher in Springfield Public Schools and 2023-2024 Teach Plus Massachusetts Policy Fellow.

The 2023-2024 Massachusetts Policy Fellows are:

  • Cynthia Agruso, Agawam Junior High School, Agawam Public Schools
  • Sean Agustynowicz, Springfield Conservatory of the Arts, Springfield Public Schools
  • Katharine “KT” Aoki, Uncommon Schools Roxbury Prep Mission Hill
  • Aida Centeio-Correia, Mildred Avenue K-8 School, Boston Public Schools
  • Melissa Dearborn, Summer Street Elementary School, Lynnfield Public Schools
  • Ana Elkhessassi, Garfield Elementary School, Revere Public Schools
  • Patricia Franks, Spark Academy Middle School, Lawrence Public Schools
  • Bob Gilmore, Woodland Elementary School, Milford Public Schools
  • Jessica Harrington, Nissitissit Middle School, North Middlesex Regional School District
  • Elsa Herraez Hernandez, Monument Mountain Regional High School, Berkshire Hills Regional School District
  • Maria Maloney, Granite Valley School Early Childhood Center, Monson Public Schools
  • Louisa Morrison, Wellesley High School, Wellesley Public Schools
  • Rowan Parker, Community Action of Pioneer Valley Head Start
  • Bianca Prieto, Robinson Middle School, Lowell Public Schools
  • Kaitlyn Rabinovitz, Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter Public School
  • Caroline Rose, Boston Collegiate Charter School
  • Kimberly Tremlett, Brophy Elementary School, Framingham Public Schools
  • Catherine Verdadeiro, Alfred Gomes Elementary School, New Bedford Public Schools
  • Peter Weller, South Hadley High School, South Hadley Public Schools
  • Maria Xavier, Young Achievers Science And Math Pilot School, Boston Public Schools
  • Rye Zemelsky, Willie Ross School for the Deaf

The 2023-2024 Massachusetts Senior Policy Fellows are:

  • Kevin Cormier, Lead Senior Fellow, North Middlesex Regional School District
  • Ralph Saint-Louis, Lowell High School, Lowell Public Schools
  • Suzanne Stillinger, Farm Hands Preschool
  • Aidn White, Frog Pond Early Learning Center
  • Luisa Sparrow, The Oliver Hazard Perry School

About Teach Plus
Teach Plus is dedicated to the mission of empowering excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that advance equity, opportunity, and student success. In pursuing our mission, Teach Plus is guided by our Student Opportunity Mandate: All students should have the opportunity to achieve their potential in an education system defined by its commitment to equity, its responsiveness to individual needs, and its ability to prepare students for postsecondary success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning for students. teachplus.org/ma

For more information and to arrange interviews with the Policy Fellows, contact Kelly Pearce, kpearce@teachplus.org.