Teach Plus Pennsylvania Launches 2022-23 Policy Fellowship

Teach Plus Pennsylvania Launches 2022-23 Policy Fellowship

HARRISBURG, PA — Teach Plus, a national nonprofit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in educational policy and instructional practice, has selected a group of 40 excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers from across the Commonwealth for its 2022-23 Pennsylvania Policy Fellowship. Building on the success of last year’s first full fellowship cohort in Pennsylvania, these talented teacher leaders will be trained in policy and advocacy specifically designed to help them develop the skills to champion innovative policy solutions for Pennsylvania’s students. The fellowship kicked off with an in-person weekend of training and orientation in Harrisburg.

“At a time of great challenge and opportunity for Pennsylvania’s schools and students, giving teachers a seat at the policy table is more important than ever,” said Pennsylvania Executive Director Laura Boyce. “Last year, our teachers achieved major educational victories, including a $250 million investment in Level Up funding for the most underfunded districts, multiple new measures to grow and diversify the educator workforce in this year’s school code, and changes to Pennsylvania’s teacher certification requirements to ensure teachers are trained in the science of reading and culturally relevant and sustaining education.”

“As Pennsylvania’s schools face growing teacher shortages, a lack of educator diversity, and post-pandemic learning loss and mental health impacts, Teach Plus teachers are ready to bring first-hand perspectives and equity-centered solutions to our policymakers,” said Zakiya Stewart, Pennsylvania Policy Manager.

The Fellows were selected from over 100 applicants through a rigorous application process that assessed their effectiveness, commitment to equity, and pursuit of excellence and innovation in teaching. Over the next 11 months, they will engage in monthly trainings to develop their policy, advocacy, research, and communications skills. The Fellows will simultaneously work in smaller working groups to develop policy solutions and advocacy efforts around key policy focus areas with the support of Senior Fellows, who are all alumni of Teach Plus policy programs. The 2022-23 policy focus areas include:

  • Adequate and equitable school funding
  • Culturally affirming schools
  • Early childhood education
  • Reimagining teacher preparation
  • Expanding and diversifying the teacher pipeline

“I’ve advocated for years at the local level for culturally affirming curriculum and a diverse educator workforce in my school district,” said Great Valley School District teacher Lisa Phoenix, who was a 2021-22 Policy Fellow and is returning this year as a Senior Fellow. “Teach Plus has given me the opportunity and necessary tools to expand my advocacy to the state policy level. As a senior policy fellow, I can pay it forward as new teacher leaders grow and join me in this very important work.”

The cohort includes a Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year finalist, a Pennsylvania History Teacher of the Year, a Pennsylvania Equity in Early Childhood Education Champion, three local union leaders, and several state teacher of the year finalists and local teachers of the year. With half of the cohort identifying as teachers of color—compared to only 6% of teachers statewide—Teach Plus Pennsylvania Policy Fellows are reflective of the diversity of the state and its students. They hail from urban, rural, and suburban areas and all corners of the Commonwealth, from Camp Hill to Coraopolis, Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Coming from a variety of settings, including district schools, charter schools, and early childhood centers, they teach a variety of subjects and age levels from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

“It is time to trust teachers to be in the positions to influence decisions and advocate for our profession and students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and I feel energized to be joining the Teach Plus Pennsylvania Policy Fellowship to better use the powerful voice that teachers collectively possess,” said North Hills School District teacher Joe Welch, the 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. “Education right now is at a crossroads, and teachers are uniquely positioned to move decisions and policies and to humanize legislation to share the impact of policy on students, families, and the current and future of the teaching profession.”

The 2022-23 Pennsylvania Policy Fellows are:

Kimberly Brown, Private Industry Council Pre-K at Wharton Elementary (Farmington)
Valerie Brown, Mt. Lebanon School District
Treci Butler, Lower Merion School District
Jordan Bynum, School District of Philadelphia
Fatim Byrd, School District of Philadelphia
Esteban Cabrera Durán, School District of Philadelphia
Sara Craft, Pinky Toes Childcare & Development Center (Connellsville)
Tim Crane, Camp Hill School District
Dawn Davenport, Mt. Lebanon School District
LaShawn Digbohou, Life Male STEAM Academy (Pittsburgh)
Tracey Fountain, Allentown School District
Cristina V Gutiérrez, School District of Philadelphia
Eric Hitchner, School District of Philadelphia
Ben Hodge, Central York School District
Lyssa Horvath, Arch Street Preschool (Philadelphia)
Cory Hulsizer, Camp Hill School District
Michelle Jenkins, South Fayette Township School District
Ebonie Lamb, Pittsburgh Public Schools
Amy Palo, Cornell School District
Nicole Perrine-Wilson, Wissahickon School District
Robyn Queen, Pittsburgh Public Schools
Sandra Riley, Spring Garden Early Learning Center (Easton)
Leon Smith, Haverford Township School District
Dr. Paul Walsh, Bethlehem Area School District
Joseph Welch, North Hills School District
Chanelle Williams, Mastery Charter Schools (Philadelphia)
Tatyana Williamson, School District of Philadelphia
Brooks Wilson, Parent Infant Center (Philadelphia)
Hollie Woodard, Council Rock School District
Nicole Wyglendowski, School District of Philadelphia

The 2022-23 Pennsylvania Senior Policy Fellows are:

Kristen Haase, School District of Lancaster
Ross Hamilton, Upper Merion School District
Brandi Hester-Harrell, Educational Consultant (Philadelphia)
Donna Kilgore, Bloom Early Education Center (Swoyersville)
Dr. Derek Long, Pittsburgh Public Schools
Lisa Phoenix, Great Valley School District
Laura Sosik, Scranton School District
Dr. Rhonda Threet, Pittsburgh Public Schools
Brigitte Tshishimbi, Freire Charter Schools (Philadelphia)
Beth Yoder, Pottstown School District

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ 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, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all. teachplus.org