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Inaugural Class of Fellows Named in New Teachers Leaders Fellows Program

New Bellwether – Aspen Institute program recognizes leaders working to improve the teaching profession and their own leadership skills

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – November 21, 2011 – The Aspen Institute and Bellwether Education Partners today announced the selection of the inaugural class of the Aspen Teacher Leader Fellows program. This pilot fellowship is designed to cultivate and support a cohort of teacher leaders – including classroom teachers as well as union leaders and other advocates – who are working to strengthen and improve the profession of teaching and the educational outcomes of America’s K-12 students. It is modeled after two successful Aspen Institute leadership programs, the Henry Crown Fellowship and the Aspen Institute-NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship Program, and will provide 21 accomplished leaders with the unique opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work and reflect with their peers on their individual and collective work as educational change agents.

“Supporting and advancing the teaching profession is so critical to educational improvement, but leaders of these efforts too rarely receive the focused, sustained attention they need to develop their own leadership capacity,” said Kim Smith, Executive Director of the program and CEO of Bellwether Education Partners. “By investing in these leaders, and giving them an opportunity for greater collaboration and leadership encouragement over the course of two years together, we believe they will create even more positive change for the profession and for the children of this country.”

In collaboration with the Aspen Institute, and with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Smith launched this pilot fellowship program in order to foster greater leadership capacity among a diverse group of leaders working to enhance the teaching profession itself, and to strengthen student achievement at the same time. As such, the first cohort (see full list below) includes leaders from across the country with backgrounds and skills from both urban and rural communities and from teachers unions, traditional district schools, charter schools, and other organizations focused on teachers and the teaching profession. These 21 accomplished leaders – chosen from more than 160 nominations – bring a diverse and rich mix of experiences to the program, from union leadership to active classroom teaching to human capital strategy and teacher advocacy in policy realms. All have demonstrated significant leadership capacity and are ready to embrace this next professional challenge.

Building on the model of the Aspen Institute’s renowned Henry Crown Fellowship Program, as well as the Aspen Institute-NewSchools program, this pilot Teacher Leader Fellows program will convene participants in four seminars over the course of the next two years, and may become an ongoing Aspen program in the future. These seminars feature thought-provoking reading and discussions about leadership, diversity, and important issues in public education and social change. In addition, Fellows will design and undertake projects aimed at strengthening the teaching profession and the capacity of educators to improve student achievement. When they complete the program, fellows will become part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, which now includes nearly 1400 entrepreneurial leaders from 43 countries who share a commitment to enlightened leadership and to using their extraordinary creativity, energy and resources to tackle the foremost societal challenges of our times.

“As a neutral convener, the Aspen Institute regularly brings together a range of voices and perspectives whose open communication with one another is critical to creating significant and sustainable change,” said Peter Reiling, Executive Vice President for Leadership and Seminar Programs at the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of its Henry Crown Fellowship. “I am confident that supporting these conversations between union leaders, classroom teachers and other advocates within the teaching profession, and investing in their individual and collective leadership development, will ultimately raise student achievement and school quality in the U.S.”

The 2012 Aspen Teacher Leader Fellows are:

  • Carrie Bakken, Program Coordinator and Teacher, Avalon School
  • Jean Clements, President, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association
  • Celine Coggins, Founder and CEO, Teach Plus
  • Kerrie Dallman, President, Jefferson County Education Association
  • Christopher Eide, Founder and Executive Director, Teachers United
  • James Encinas, Teacher, Westminster Avenue Elementary School
  • Nina Esposito-Visgitis, President, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers
  • Ira Fishman, Managing Director and COO, NFL Players Association
  • Emily Ayscue Hassel, Co-Director, Public Impact
  • Heather Kirkpatrick, Vice President of Education, Aspire Public Schools
  • Tony Klemmer, Founder and President, The Center for Better Schools & the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education
  • David Low, Vice President for High Schools & School Reform, New Haven Federation of Teachers, and Teacher, Sound School
  • Christopher Poulos, Teacher, Joel Barlow High School
  • Lewis Robinson, Executive Director, Prince George’s County Educators’ Association
  • Cynthia Robinson-Rivers, Manager of Teacher Effectiveness Strategy, DC Public Schools
  • Mark Sass, Teacher, Legacy High School
  • Audrey Soglin, Executive Director, Illinois Education Association
  • Michael Stryer, Director of New Unionism, Future is Now Schools
  • Paul Toner, President, Massachusetts Teachers Association
  • Andrew Vanden Heuvel, Teacher, Michigan Virtual School
  • Robert Williams, Teacher, Colony High School

Click here to download bios and photos of the fellows.

For More Information:

Kim Smith
CEO, Bellwether Education Partners
tfellows@bellwethereducation.org

Jeffrey Harris
Senior Public Affairs Coordinator, Aspen Institute
202-736-3848
jeff.harris@aspeninst.org

About the Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit https://www.aspeninstitute.org/.

About Bellwether Education Partners
Bellwether Education Partners is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the achievement of low-income students by cultivating, advising, and placing a robust community of innovative, effective, and sustainable change agents in public education reform and improving the policy climate for their work. For more information, visit /.