Teach Plus Mississippi Executive Director Sanford Johnson Leads Policy and Teacher Leadership Work Statewide
JACKSON, MS —Teach Plus, a national nonprofit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in policy and practice, has selected 20 demonstrably-effective teachers from across the state as Fellows of its 2010-21 Mississippi Teaching Policy Fellowship. During the Fellowship, the teachers will take part in a course of study in policy and advocacy specially designed to help them develop the skills to advocate for changes for Mississippi’s students. They will focus on a range of issues of importance to teachers, students, and parents in the state, including closing the digital divide, prioritizing equity during looming state budget cuts, and recruiting and retaining teachers.
“As a Teach Plus Fellow, I am excited about having a platform to create educational policies that directly impact the students I teach and many other students in our state who are affected by a critical teacher shortage and a lack of adequate resources,” said Edwin Johnson, 2nd grade math teacher at West Bolivar Elementary School in Rosedale.
Teach Plus’s work in Mississippi is being led by Sanford Johnson, who brings over a decade of experience in education and policy to his role as Executive Director. A former high school social studies teacher and native of the Mississippi Delta, Johnson is the co-founder of Mississippi First (MSF), an education policy research and advocacy organization, and a founding board member for Teen Health Mississippi and the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy.
“My experience of working in education policy in Mississippi has taught me that teachers are critical to advancing policy that benefits students and the profession and I couldn’t be more excited to do this work with Teach Plus,” said Mr. Johnson. “The 20 great teachers we have selected for the Mississippi Teaching Policy Fellowship are getting into education policy during an unprecedented moment in history. They are embarking on an effort to teach our children when we are simultaneously facing a global pandemic, a looming budget crisis, and a renewed focus on dismantling systemic racism. Each of our Fellows will have a lasting impact on our communities, our schools, and our students.”
Fifteen of the 20 Fellows are from districts in the Mississippi Delta, representing 70 percent of the counties in the region. With 75 percent of new Fellows being educators of color, the cohort is representative of the diversity of the state and its students. The cohort is also diverse in years of teaching experience, ranging from two-five years to 16+ years. The Fellows teach all subjects from K-12th grade. Each Fellow was chosen based on their strong commitment to the classroom and their ability to articulate the needs of their students. The incoming teachers have been recognized for their outstanding work at the school, district, and state level.
“As a Teach Plus Fellow, I hope to focus on bringing social emotional learning to classrooms and diversity, equity, and inclusion training to districts. I think both of these would lead to better academic outcomes for students as teachers and administrators learn to be better advocates for students through heightened self-awareness and students learn to be better advocates for themselves by learning to communicate their feelings,” said Micayla Tatum, a 4th grade math teacher at Warren Central Intermediate School in Vicksburg.
The 2020-21 Mississippi Policy Fellows are:
- Allen Baugh, Forest Hill High School, Jackson Public Schools
- Syreata Brassell, Quitman County Middle School, Quitman County School District
- Jennie Butler, Oakhurst Intermediate School, Clarksdale Municipal School District
- Rosemary Collins, Lockard Elementary School, Sunflower Co. Consolidated School District
- Jariel Davis, Ambition Preparatory Charter School, Jackson, MS
- Tiffany Davis, Webb PreK Academy, Greenville Public Schools
- Malissa Flowers, Beechwood Elementary School, Vicksburg-Warren School District
- Joseph Greenberg, R.H. Bearden Elementary School, West Tallahatchie School District
- Kendall Hardy, Holly Springs High School, Holly Springs School District
- Edwin Johnson, West Bolivar Elementary School, West Bolivar Consolidated School District
- Fanisha Johnson, Tunica Elementary School, Tunica County School District
- Rachel Johnson, Buckatunna School, Wayne County School District
- Patricia Lampkin, Ida Greene Elementary School, Humphreys County – ASD
- Athena Lindsey, South Delta Middle School, South Delta School District
- Alexandra Melnick, Leland High School, Leland School District
- Monica Meredith, Senatobia Elementary School, Senatobia School District
- Nicole Moore, Coahoma Early College High School, Clarksdale, MS
- Erica Scott, Ocean Springs High School, Ocean Springs School District
- Alexis Smith, South Panola High School, South Panola School District
- Micayla Tatum, Warren Central Intermediate School, Vicksburg-Warren 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 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