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Teach Plus Launches Inaugural Early Childhood Educator Fellowship in Illinois

January 7, 2019

Fellows Include Pre-School, Elementary School, and Bilingual Teachers; Childcare Providers and Group Family Center Owners; and Special Education Experts

CHICAGO,IL—Teach Plus, a national non-profit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in policy and practice, launched its first cohort of Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Fellows with 20 outstanding early childhood education experts from around the state. During the seven-month program, ECE Fellows will focus on pressing issues such as adequate funding for programs and teaching staff, meaningful professional development and training for professionals in the field, and the use of data-informed practices to deliver a high-quality early childhood system in Illinois. The Fellows will pursue a rigorous course in policy and advocacy in order to advocate for improved early childhood education policies in Illinois.
  
"I am honored to work with such a talented and diverse groups of early childhood educators,” said Ty Jiles, Teach Plus Illinois Policy Manager. “The ECE Fellows are focused on ensuring that all Illinois children from birth to second grade have access to high-quality child care programs. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”

“Teach Plus celebrates what we do as expert early childhood educators, and then gives us the skills to propose policy solutions,” said Katie Cannady, kindergarten teacher at Acero Brighton Park in Chicago and Teach Plus ECE Fellow. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the cohort to make changes that improve opportunities and outcomes for all children across Illinois.”

As a precursor to the Fellowship, Teach Plus launched an Early Childhood Advisory Board in 2018 with 15 educators from across the state.  The Advisory Board members contributed to legislation which modified teacher certification for early childhood teachers, advocated to expand eligibility for child care in Illinois, and provided recommendations on Pre-k to kindergarten transitions to the Kindergarten Transition Advisory Committee.
 
The new ECE Fellows work in schools, childcare centers, and group family home centers. Many of the incoming teachers have been recognized for their outstanding work and commitment to early childhood education. 
 
The 2018-19 Illinois Early Childhood Educator Policy Fellows are:
Maddie Bodine, Kingston Elementary School, early childhood special education teacher
Katie Canandy, Acero Charter Schools, kindergarten lead teacher
Nicole Cannon, Cuddle Care Child Care Center, Head Start teacher
Shannon Carr, Chicago Public Schools, Pre-K teacher
Karen Dannenhauer, Steuben Elementary School, Preschool For All dual language teacher
Heather Duncan, VOCEL, parent engagement specialist and adjunct professor in ECE at Truman College
Christine Flynn, Chicago Public Schools, early childhood teacher
Jared Hennen, Chicago Public Schools, early childhood specialist
Alejandra Hernandez, Casa Hernandez Home Child Care owner
Christina Hernandez, Chicago Public Schools, early childhood specialist
Megan Hillegass, Horace Mann School, bilingual Preschool for All teacher
Patrica Ingram, Patty Cakes Group Day Care Home owner
Erin Jackle, U-D46, transition facilitator for early learners
Sarah Jecks, Black Hawk Area Special Education District, early childhood special education teacher
Laura Kelly, Peoria Public Schools, early childhood special education resource teacher
Larissa Vander Kuur, Busy Bee Learning Center owner and family child care provider  
Jan Munday, Weekday’s at Munday’s, licensed group family childcare owner
Hanni Reutter, Illinois Action for Children, Preschool for All teacher
Vincent Rodriguez, Christopher House, diverse learners coordinator
Charetta Williams, Joesph E. Hill Early Childhood Education Center, early childhood paraprofessional 

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success.  Since 2009, Teach Plus has trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students.  teachplus.org