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Teach Plus Arkansas Launches Inaugural Policy Fellowship With a Cohort of 23 Highly Effective Educators

August 11, 2021
Little Rock, AR— Teach Plus, a national nonprofit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in educational policy and instructional practice, has selected a group of 23 demonstrably effective teachers from around Arkansas for its inaugural 2021-2022 Policy Fellowship cohort. The Fellows will focus on a range of issues of importance to Arkansas’ teachers, students, and families, including recruiting and retaining educators of color, providing high-quality early childhood education, and improving teacher preparation.
 
“I couldn't be more excited to welcome our first cohort of Policy Fellows. By developing their research and advocacy skills, and providing resources and support to these outstanding classroom practitioners, we hope to advance policy change and equity for the students of Arkansas,” said Teach Plus Arkansas State Director Stacey McAdoo.
 
“As a Teach Plus Fellow, I look forward to taking part in policy conversations with decision makers at the district and state level. Teachers, who are closest to the classroom, often feel the furthest removed from those who make decisions about our work and the profession. It is exciting to know that teachers like me can shape policy and practice that will have an impact on our students,” said Brandie Edwards Loomis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow who teaches at Centerton Gamble Elementary in Bentonville.
 
The incoming Fellows represent a diverse group of K-12 educators from Central Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Southwest Arkansas, and the Arkansas Delta. These educators are classroom practitioners, instructional facilitators, and teacher leaders in both charter and traditional public schools. They include school, district, and state finalist teachers of the year, Arkansas Education Association and Arkansas State Teacher Association members, school department heads, Arkansas Teacher Corps members, Black Educators Promise members, and Teach for America alumni.
 
Throughout the program, the Fellows are trained in policy, advocacy, research, and communications and develop the skills necessary to advocate for changes for Arkansas’ 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. 
 
“As a Teach Plus Fellow, I am excited to be able to use my voice to encourage change in my district and state, and to tell the stories of my students to inform policy decisions that affect our schools,” said Cade Vallee, Teach Plus Policy Fellow who teaches at East Junior High School in West Memphis.
 
The 2021-22 Arkansas Policy Fellows are: 
Perla Andrade, Baseline Elementary, Little Rock
Kayla Andrews, Benton High School, Benton
Allison Bibens, Bale Elementary, Little Rock
Melanie Blasingame, Lisa West Elementary Academy, Little Rock
Dominique Bonilla, Springdale High School, Springdale
Crystal Eckles, Future School of Ft. Smith, Fort Smith
Michael Flowers, Wilbur D. Mills University Studies High School, Little Rock
Chase Fresneda, Nemo Vista High School, Center Ridge
Iesha Green, Exalt Academy of SWLR, Little Rock
Deon Harris, Forrest City High School, Forrest City
Juanita Harris, Harmony Leadership Academy, Texarkana
Matthew Henriksen, Hass Hall Academy, Springdale
Holly Howard, Bentonville High School, Bentonville
Kendria Jones, Jack Robey Junior High School, Pine Bluff
Nelvia Johnson, KIPP Delta Collegiate High School, Helena
Brandie Loomis, Centerton Gamble Elementary, Bentonville
Romana Mathews, Forrest City High School, Forrest City
Jessica Nadzam, The Academies at Jonesboro High School, Jonesboro
Cade Vallee, East Junior High School, West Memphis
Morgan Wilson, Pine Bluff High School, Pine Bluff
 
2021-2022 Teach Plus Arkansas Senior Policy Fellows are:
Pamela Criss, Little Rock School District, Little Rock
Kara Davis, Northside Elementary, Rogers
Christhian Saavedra, Rogers School District, Rogers
 
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