Teach Plus Texas Names 50 Highly Effective Teachers To Its Seventh Cohort of Policy Fellows

Teach Plus Texas Names 50 Highly Effective Teachers To Its Seventh Cohort of Policy Fellows

Austin, TX, September 6, 2023 — Teach, Plus, a national teacher leadership organization, has selected 50 demonstrably effective teachers from around Texas for its 2023-2024 Policy Fellowship cohort. The Fellows, all of whom are classroom teachers, will focus on a range of issues of importance to Texas’ students and communities, including equitable school funding, diversifying the teacher workforce, teacher preparation for effective educators, the mental health of educators and students, and high-quality instructional materials.

“I am excited to welcome the seventh cohort of Policy Fellows to the Texas Policy Fellowship,” said Teach Plus Texas Executive Director Kevin Malonson. “This year represents a unique opportunity to amplify teacher leadership at both the legislative and regulatory levels. The impending special session on education and rulemaking regarding new and impactful legislation will give fellows the opportunity to continue to advocate for policies that benefit teachers and students.”

Dr. Halee Porter, a hospitality instructor in Houston ISD and Teach Plus Texas Senior Policy Fellow, said: “I’m beyond excited to join hands with fellow educators from across Texas in spearheading change in education. My goal as a Senior Fellow is to continue the work of the previous cohort of teacher leaders on increasing teacher retention, improving school safety, and seeking continued improvement in equitable accountability systems for students.”

This seventh cohort of Texas Policy Fellows includes educators that hail from the Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley areas. Coming from a variety of settings, including district and charter schools, they teach various age levels from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and cover a vast number of subjects including English language arts, special education, Career and Technical Education, science, math, theater arts, music, social studies, and more. The Fellows have attended a variety of preparation institutions, from traditional to alternative teacher preparation programs, and teach across grade levels.

“The various perspectives of teachers coming together from across the state to address systemic challenges and improve outcomes for students is what makes the Teach Plus Policy Fellowship so unique. Teacher voice will be critical on important issues such as education funding, teacher compensation, and high quality teacher preparation. We will also continue to advocate for the game-changing recommendations presented in the Teacher Vacancy Task Force Report,” said Teach Plus Texas Policy Manager Natalie Brown.

With 66 percent of the new Fellows teachers of color, this Teach Plus cohort is representative of the diversity of the state of Texas and its students. Each Fellow was chosen based on their effectiveness as an educator, their strong commitment to the classroom and to equity, the ability to articulate the needs of their students, and the pursuit of excellence and innovation in teaching. Many of the Fellows have recognitions such as Teacher of the Year, hold a TEA statewide designation, and include a L.I.D.E.R. award winner.

“With this opportunity, I hope to learn more about the state and local policies that are impacting my students’ experiences in school,” said Mollie Wright, an English teacher in Garland ISD and 2023-2024 Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellow. “I look forward to sharing this knowledge with my students, their parents, my colleagues, and other local stakeholders so that we can leverage our power to reshape the system in a way that best respects, celebrates, and sustains our students.”

The 2023-2024 Texas Policy Fellows are:

  • Hira Adaya, Harmony School of Excellence Sugar Land, Harmony Public Schools
  • Kenyon Andrews, Slaton High School, Slaton Independent School District
  • Madeline Barnes, Rio Grande City High School, Rio Grande City Grulla Independent School District
  • Dani Beopple, Lanny Frasier Middle School, Mesquite Independent School District
  • Taylor Bramow, Meridian World IB School, Round Rock Independent School District
  • Shontee Branton, Eddie Bernice Johnson Elementary, Dallas Independent School District
  • Lili Carrasco, Fabens Elementary School, Faben Independent School District
  • Katelyn Damore, Austin Achieve Public Elementary Northeast Campus, Austin Achieve Public Schools
  • Isaiah Davis, Uplift Elevate Preparatory Middle School, Uplift Public Schools
  • Sara DiMaria Cedars International Next Generation High School, Cedars International Academy
  • Destiny Edwards, KIPP Truth Academy Middle School, KIPP Texas Public Schools
  • Sara Elwell, Frank Guzick Elementary, Dallas Independent School District
  • Alexis Gage, Cesar Chavez High School, Houston Independent School District
  • Jomeka Gray, Western Hills Elementary, Temple Independent School District
  • Juan Hernandez, Dr. Martha Mead Elementary School, Northside Independent School District
  • Mayan Jarnigan, Harmony Science Academy- San Antonio, Harmony Public Schools
  • Dwayne Lacy, Beckendorff Junior High School, Katy Independent School District
  • Azhalia Leal, Hector P. Garcia Middle School, Dallas Independent School District
  • Heather Leverett, Reeves-Hinger Elementary, Canyon Independent School District
  • Kristin Lewis, Wood Elementary School, Arlington Independent School District
  • Noah Lipman, Highland High School, San Antonio Independent School District
  • Miranda Mack, Hillcrest High School, Dallas Independent School District
  • Courtney Martin, Outley Elementary, Alief Independent School District
  • Monique Mason-Kelly, Welch Middle School, Houston Independent School District
  • Estibaliz Matulewicz, Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy, Dallas Independent School District
  • Clair McCoy, Griffin Elementary, Forney Independent School District
  • Kristyna Mosqueda-Rogers, Carr Middle School, Hale Center Independent School District
  • Claudia Obeid Limongi, Briarmeadow Charter School, Houston Independent School District
  • Erica Orozco, Harmony School of Innovation-Middle-High School El Paso, Harmony Public Schools
  • Ryan Otero, IDEA Public Schools Rio Vista College Preparatory, IDEA Public Schools
  • Delyla Ovalle-Bowyer, Donald Leonetti Elementary School, Fort Bend Independent School District
  • Valeria Pulido, Cesar Chavez High School, Houston Independent School District
  • Anna Riojas, Harlingen School of Health Professions, Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District
  • Diana Rodriguez Cortes, Austin Achieve Middle School, Austin Achieve Public Schools
  • Alissa Russell, Life High School Oak Cliff, Life Schools
  • Yalanda Salone, Foy H. Moody High School, Corpus Christi Independent School District
  • Dylan Smith, Cleveland High School, Cleveland Independent School District
  • Mary “Jo” Spark, Alta Vista Elementary, Waco Independent School District/ Transformation Waco
  • Karen Sparks, Obra D. Tompkins High School, Katy Independent School District
  • Tammy Thomas, Dr. Frederick Douglas Todd Sr. Middle School, Dallas Independent School District
  • Ann Vogt, Premont Collegiate High School, Premont Independent School District
  • Joeisha Weary, IDEA Public Schools-Converse College Prep, IDEA Public Schools
  • Mollie Wright, Garland High School, Garland Independent School District
  • Shannon Yrle, Legacy of Education Excellence (LEE) High School, Northeast Independent School District

The 2023-2024 Texas Senior Policy Fellows are:

  • Natalie Arias, Stevenson Middle School, Northside Independent School District
  • Matthew Balter, Austin Achieve Public Middle School, Austin Achieve Public Schools
  • Lance Barasch, School of Science and Engineering, Dallas Independent School District
  • Raven Morris, Southard Middle School, Princeton Independent School District
  • Halee Porter, Northside High School, Houston Independent School District
  • Frank Rivera, Chaparral Star Academy, Chaparral Star Academy Austin

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/tx

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