August 19, 2021

Jackson, MS— Teach Plus, a national nonprofit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in educational policy and instructional practice, has selected a group of 20 demonstrably-effective teachers from around Mississippi for its 2021-22 Policy Fellowship cohort. Over the next ten months, Teach Plus Policy Fellows will focus on a range of education policy issues, including teacher compensation, social emotional learning, and the recruitment and retention of teachers of color. They will also work on addressing the needs of students and teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“With this excellent group of educators as Fellows, we will build upon the work done by our previous cohorts including advocacy for higher teacher pay and a stronger teacher pipeline. We will also focus on increasing access to rigorous coursework as well as mental health services for teachers and students,” said Sanford Johnson, Executive Director of Teach Plus Mississippi.

 “As a Teach Plus Fellow, I hope to become informed about the policies and procedures that directly affect student outcomes and strategically implement the changes in my classroom and at my school,” said Erika Davis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow and elementary teacher at D.M. Smith Elementary School in Cleveland.

The new Fellows come from public schools from across the state, including metro Jackson, the Delta, East Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast. Their teaching experience ranges from two years to 24 years and the Fellows teach lower elementary through high school. Four Teach Plus Policy Fellowship alums will serve as Senior Fellows, helping the new Fellows set and meet their policy goals. The incoming Fellows have attended a variety of preparation institutions such as traditional undergraduate, master’s programs, and alternative prep programs. They have demonstrated their effectiveness through the rigorous application process and many have been recognized with awards, including the 2019 Mississippi Teacher of the Year. 

Throughout the program, the Fellows are trained in policy, advocacy, research, and communications and develop the skills necessary to advocate for changes for Mississippi’s 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. 

“I hope to learn more about the policies that impact students, teachers, and our communities, and become an active participant in advocating for and creating change for teachers and students in Mississippi,” said Hannah Gadd-Ardrey, Teach Plus Policy Fellow and 2019 Mississippi State Teacher of the Year who teaches at Lafayette County High School in Oxford.  

The 2021-22 Mississippi  Policy Fellows are: 
Klara Aizupitis, South Panola High School, South Panola School District
Kimberly Archie, Lanier High School, Jackson Public Schools
Whitney Christenson, Leflore Legacy Academy, MS Delta Academies Charter Schools 
Erika Davis, D.M. Smith Elementary School, Cleveland School District
Kathryn Downen, Canton High School, Canton School District
Veronica Dykes, Lanier High School, Jackson Public Schools
Joi Fleming, Durant Elementary School, Holmes County Consolidated School District
Hannah Gadd Ardrey, Lafayette County High School, Lafayette County School District
Drew Hall, Quitman County Middle School, Quitman County School District
Germaine Hampton, West Tallahatchie High School, We Tallahatchie School District
Shamia Hopper, Smilow Collegiate School, Republic Charter Schools (Jackson, MS)
Crystal Jackson, Warren Central Intermediate School, Vicksburg-Warren School District
Shaun McDonough, Midtown Charter School (Jackson, MS)
Kathryn McGraw, Murrah High School, Jackson Public Schools
Daniel Pepper, Long Beach Middle School, Long Beach School District
Shawna Robinson, Monroe County Advanced Learning Center, Monroe County School District
Kristy Sanchez, W.A. Higgins Middle School, Clarksdale Municipal School District
Tambria Shaw-Conrod, Lockard Elementary School, Sunflower County Consolidated School District
Valerie Steele, Brandon Middle School, Rankin County School District
Earnestine Williams, O’Bannon High School, Western Line School District

The 2021-22 Senior Policy Fellows are:
Alison Rausch, Wheeler Attendance Center, Prentiss County School District
Athena Lindsey, South Delta Middle School, South Delta School District
Micayla Tatum, Warren Central Intermediate School, Vicksburg-Warren School District 
Rosemary Collins, Lockard Elementary School, Sunflower County Consolidated 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