The Tennessee Department of Education has announced the teachers chosen for the 2020 TN Education Leaders Summer Fellowship.
Applications were sent to all teachers currently teaching in a TN school district who have committed to return to the classroom for the 2020-21 school year. Interested teachers had to submit a resume and letter of recommendation, along with answers for three questions about their goals and ideas for improving the educational experience of TN students.
A total of 155 teachers applied, and 20 were selected in a highly competitive review process to be interviewed. MCHS teacher Stacy Jones received notice on April 7 that she was one of five teachers selected for the fellowship.
Jones has been a full-time educator for 16 years total, counting four years at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She has been at MCHS for 12 years, since fall 2008. Jones also taught as a part-time university adjunct and in more than one teaching assistantship as the sole classroom instructor.
“The Tennessee Education Leaders Summer Fellowship consists of a paid, eight-week opportunity for fellows to ‘leverage their classroom experience and passion for education to impact change at the state level,’ according to the fellowship application description. More specifically, as I have been informed, my project role will involve working with the Tennessee Department of Education’s English Language Arts (ELA) division to help clarify state ELA standards and devise even better implementation practices for ELA educators across the state,” said Jones.
Jones was interviewed by two TDOE staff members via Zoom, the virtual video conferencing app. In the interview, she was asked what she thought about current obstacles to completely successful implementation of ELA standards. “I think the challenge is pervasive to find ways to devise successfully integrated, spiraled instruction that focuses on the different strands involved in the standards, including, in addition to reading, the honing of writing, speaking, and language skills. Sometimes I think, as ELA educators, we are tempted to fall back on isolating one or more of those strands in our classroom instruction: for instance, teaching standalone vocabulary, rather than integrating language instruction as we immerse students in the study and discussion and writing about the complex classroom texts they are reading and with which they are grappling.”
Jones will spend eight weeks this summer with the fellowship. At this time, it is unclear if the fellowship will take place in Nashville as originally planned, or if there will be some form of virtual and/or distance meeting taking place. Either way, Jones says she is excited about the opportunity and has some goals for the summer.
“I hope to emerge from the fellowship not only as a more polished, more equipped classroom educator myself, but I hope to help, even in some small way, to transform and elucidate some of our standards-based ELA instruction in Tennessee. My hope always remains that, based on any work that any of us do, we will ultimately elicit higher learning outcomes from our students.”
Fellow MCHS teacher Lisa Forsythe also applied for the program, and was one of the 20 interviewed. She was selected as the alternate if any of the five should drop out of the program for any reason.