Learning Forward & NCTAF Name 12 Finalist Teams in Agents for Learning Challenge

Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Announcements, Featured | 0 comments

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Media Contact for Learning Forward:
Tracy Crow, 972-421-0900


Media Contact for NCTAF:
Karen Cheeks, 240-233-4110

Learning Forward and NCTAF Name 12 Finalist Teams in
Agents for Learning Challenge


Twelve states represented; finalists to convene in Chicago
to present plans detailing ESSA-ready professional learning strategies
to panel of educators and experts


WASHINGTON – June 23, 2016 – Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) today announced 12 finalists in its Agents for Learning challenge, a nationwide call to action designed to engage educator teams in advocating for the best use of federal funding for professional learning under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The 12 teams — representing 56 teachers, administrators, and learning leaders from 12 different states — proposed plans that described a comprehensive vision for effective professional learning for their states, identified needs that exist and strategies to address them, and outlined roles and responsibilities for states, districts, and individual educators to achieve their visions. In addition, the plans discussed how educators would advise states and districts to use Title II funding to address critical needs of teachers and directly impact student learning outcomes.

The finalists will travel to Chicago July 21-22, where each team will present its plan to a panel of judges and a moderator:

  • Virginia Edwards, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Education Week (moderator);
  • Stephanie Banchero, Program Director for the Education Program, Joyce Foundation;
  • Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year;
  • Chris Minnich, Executive Director, CCSSO;
  • Rachel Wise, Chair, Nebraska Board of Education, NASBE.

“We’re so grateful to all of the educators who participated in the challenge. We were proud to offer an opportunity to amplify teachers’ voices in advocating for the professional learning that will make a difference for educators and students,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward. “States tell us they are looking for ways to capture stakeholder input, and the creative and bold ideas in the applications show how much these engaged educators have to offer as we enter the implementation phase of ESSA. I can’t wait to learn more from them during our time in Chicago,” continued Hirsh.

Before presenting their plans, teams will have time to engage in learning and coaching to refine their plans and build skills in advocating with policymakers. Learning Forward and NCTAF will webcast the presentations and disseminate the finalists’ plans on the Learning Forward website to serve as models for educators around the country. Prizes and recognitions will be awarded to finalists by sponsors of the challenge.

As states and districts work to develop comprehensive plans to implement ESSA, Learning Forward and NCTAF believe it is critical that teachers’ expertise, experiences, and input are heard. “As one of our finalist teams noted, ‘teachers are an untapped resource to reform professional development,’ and through this challenge we are incorporating the expertise of our nation’s educators into the broader policy conversation,” said Melinda George, president of NCTAF. “The plans submitted by these teachers make it crystal clear that great teaching for all students will only happen when teacher voice is included at every level – school, district, state and national. Including their insight into what works for students, themselves and their colleagues makes the difference in successfully transforming teaching and learning.”

Visit Agents for Learning for more information on the challenge. For additional information or questions, or to request interviews or credentials to cover the event in Chicago, please reach out to the media contacts listed or send an email to teacheragencycompetition@learningforward.org.

For team member names, school affiliations, and city/state of school, see chart beginning next page.



About Learning Forward
Learning Forward is a nonprofit, international membership association of learning educators committed to one vision in K–12 education: Excellent teaching and learning every day. To realize that vision Learning Forward pursues its mission to build the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning. Learning Forward supports its members and the field through services, learning opportunities, networks, and publications focused exclusively on what it takes to meaningfully build the capacity of K-12 educators to meet the needs of all students. Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning, adopted in more than 35 states, define the essential elements of professional learning that leads to changed educator practices and improved outcomes for students. Information about membership, services, and products is available from http://learningforward.org.

About The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF)
The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 as a bipartisan effort to engage education policymakers and practitioners to address the entrenched national challenge of recruiting, developing, and retaining great teachers in order to ensure that all students have access to quality teaching in schools organized for success. For 20 years, NCTAF has worked to drive and inform the national dialogue about the importance of great teaching, especially in hard-to-staff schools. NCTAF’s research and recommendations inform innovations and improvements in teaching quality nationwide, focus attention on the importance of equitable distribution and retention of teachers, and promote promising practices for the development of teachers’ skills and career pathways. For more information, visit www.nctaf.org. Follow NCTAF on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to NCTAF’s News Digest.


Trey Ferguson

Cassie RedingCarly Baldwin

Natalie Coleman

Debbie Hickerson

Leesville Road High School

Stevenson ElementaryBoyd County High School

Shafer Middle School

Cason Lane Academy

Raleigh, NC

Russellville, KYAshland, KY

Gallatin, TN

Murfreesboro, TN

Kelley Cusmano

Sarah GiddingsHeather Gauck

Matt McCullough 

Rochester High School

Washtenaw Alliance for Virtual EducationGrand Rapids Public Schools

Schoolcraft Community Schools

Rochester, MI

Ypsilanti, MIGrand Rapids, MI

Schoolcraft, MI

Clara Carroll

Nancy FancyboyLori Martin

Leslie Sharp

Deb Walter 

Harding University

Beebe School DistrictOtter Creek Elementary

Carnall Elementary School

Rogers New Tech High School

Searcy, AR

Beebe, ARLittle Rock, AR

Fort Smith, AR

Rogers, AR

Rebecca Wattleworth

Jennifer SmithJacob Carlson

Virginia Valdez

Joseph Fatheree 

Warrensburg-Latham High School

Monticello Middle SchoolCivic Memorial High School

Minnie Mars Jamieson Elementary School

Effingham High School

Warrensburg, IL

Monticello, ILBethalto, IL

Chicago, IL

Effingham, IL

Christina Jusino

Jennifer LangdonDesiree Darling

Emily Banta

Tuyet Dinh

Michael Macchi

Alicia Serafin 

Spark Academy

Hurley K-8 SchoolSpark Academy

Lawrence Family Development Charter School

Mather Elementary

Phineas Bates Elementary

Whittier Elementary School

Lawrence, MA

Boston, MALawrence, MA

Lawrence, MA

Dorchester, MA

Roslindale, MA

Everett, MA

Cheryl Corpus

Gina WilsonTina Harma

Carrie Mattern 

Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning

Early College Alliance @ EMUKent Lake Elementary

Carman-Ainsworth High School

Mount Pleasant, MI

Ypsilanti, MISouth Lyon, MI

Flint, MI

Steven Fouts

Lani LuoGabrielle Pike

Lynn Osborne-Simmons

DeJernet Farder 

Douglass Academy

Howe School of ExcellenceBurr Elementary

Curie Metropolitan High School

Morton School of Excellence

Chicago, IL

Chicago, ILChicago, IL

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

Ashley Karlsson

Amy FettigSusan Boen

Washburn High School

Ubah Medical Academy

Washburn High School

Minneapolis, MN

Hopkins, MNMinneapolis, MN

Maureen Torrez

Laura BurnsKimberly Chavkin Moreno

Andrea Quintana 

La Mesa Elementary School

Kirtland Elementary SchoolGeorge I Sánchez Collaborative Community School

George I Sánchez Collaborative Community School

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NMAlbuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NM

Stephen Rountree

Sonia MatthewKisha Dorch

Rodney Lewis II

Julie Hughey 

Frederick Douglas High School

High Bridge Elementary SchoolFrederick Douglas High School

Barack Obama Elementary School

Prince George’s County Public Schools

Upper Marlboro, MD

Bowie, MDUpper Marlboro, MD

Upper Marlboro, MD

Upper Marlboro, MD

Daniel Chu

Christopher NielsenMichael Lubing

Miyilyn Parra-Innocent 

Murray Hill Academy

Murray Hill AcademyMurray Hill Academy

Murray Hill Academy

New York, NY

New York, NYNew York, NY

New York, NY

Shelly Moore Krajacic

Amy MizialkoIngrid Walker-Henry

Chauna Perry Finch

Heather Sattler 

National Education Association

Milwaukee Teachers Education AssociationMilwaukee Teachers Education Association

Milwaukee Teachers Education Association

Milwaukee Teachers Education Association

Madison, WI

Milwaukee, WIMilwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI


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