The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) announced Tuesday that 22 teachers across the state have been selected for the inaugural Tennessee Educator Fellowship, including Williamson County Schools instructor Amy Kate McMurry.
The State Collaborative on Reforming Education announced Tuesday that 22 teachers across the state have been selected for the inaugural Tennessee Educator Fellowship, including Williamson County Schools instructor Amy Kate McMurry.
McMurry was selected with 21 others out of more than 350 applicants to participate in the program, which is designed to give instructors the opportunity to learn and discuss student-focused education policy issues.
The diverse group includes instructors who teach in different subjects and grades in urban, suburban and rural schools. They are affiliated with various professional groups, including the Tennessee Education Association, Professional Educators of Tennessee, Teach Plus and Teach for America.
McMurry has taught at Kenrose Elementary School for five years, switching this year from teaching second grade to teaching fifth grade math and science.
She represents the district elementary school in the Williamson County Education Association and coached other instructors on math intervention strategies this summer.
Fellowship applicants submitted a written application and underwent an interview process, which asked educators about their priorities in education public policy and how well they know it. McMurry was eager to apply, saying she hears few teacher perspectives in the policy conversation.
As a participant in the program, McMurry wants the discussion to cover improvements to teacher training programs for those who have not yet become certified instructors as well as improvements to professional development.
“Professional development should be catered to specific needs that [teachers] have,” she said.
“I find oftentimes, it’s too generalized.”
The fellows will participate in the program for one year, during which time they will continue to teach in their classrooms.
Through the program, they will discuss policies and systems that impact student achievement and share findings with their respective colleagues and school communities.
McMurry said she hopes to have a real impact on public policy, citing changes to planning time policies as a goal for WCS teachers.
“I think teachers need more autonomy when it comes to our planning time. Right before school starts, we don’t have enough time to reflect on those practices and implement them in a way that will be effective,” she said.
“Every teacher I know says, ‘We just need time.’ Sometimes teachers come to Tennessee and are like, ‘Wait, you only get a 45-minute planning period and not an hour? You don’t have once a month a half day where teachers get to plan?’ No, we do not. I don’t know people are aware those are even options. If they are, we need to take a closer look at those options and determine if they would be beneficial in WCS.”
Teachers will meet in-person three times during the school year in September, November and May. They will also convene online via webinar in October, January, February, March and April, said Cicely Woodard, program coordinator .
“In terms of curriculum, they’re learning how education is governed and how teachers can be a part of that process. The focus is on state standards, assessment, leadership and teaching,” Woodard said.
While the goal of the program is to help teachers have education conversations within their respective communities, Woodard said fellows may have the chance to engage with state-level policymakers.
Guest speakers will be invited to the in-person fellowship meetings, though the coordinator said specific speakers have not been confirmed yet.
Jessica Pace covers Williamson County, Williamson County Schools and the Town of Nolensville for BrentWord Communications. Contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Jess_Marie_Pace.