The Indianapolis branch of TeachPlus announced its newest cohort of policy fellows Wednesday, and there’s something a little bit different: For the first time, the 20 educators who will join the group are from rural, suburban and urban districts across Indiana.
TeachPlus is part of a national organization that trains teachers to advocate for policy, and it has been working with educators in Indianapolis since 2009. The group has played an influential role in Marion County, working with Indianapolis Public Schools on teacher evaluation models and pushing for a common enrollment system for public and charter schools. TeachPlus will continue a separate Indianapolis policy fellowship.
But as TeachPlus has focused on lobbying the legislature, it became clear that it should expand its membership to include educators from across the state, explained policy director Patrick McAlister. In part, that’s because legislators often give special attention to teachers from their own communities, he said.
“Sometimes the messenger is important when you are trying to shape policy and if a teacher or a person from your hometown says an issue is important, legislators listen,” he said. “There is so much focus on Indianapolis that voices from rural and suburban communities sometimes aren’t heard.”
While teachers from communities across the state bring different perspectives, McAlister said, they often share many of the same priorities, such as improving leadership opportunities.
(Read: Jean Russell, one of the new fellows, shared her experience finding her voice as a policy advocate with Chalkbeat.)
Here are the 20 educators who were chosen as statewide policy fellows:
Lesley Bright of Carlisle Middle School in Carlisle, IN
Carmen Napolitano of Fishers High School in Fishers, IN
Abby Taylor of Geist Elementary in Fishers, IN
Dominique Barnes of Mabel K. Holland in Fort Wayne, IN
Christopher McGrew of Haverhill Elementary School in Fort Wayne, IN
Robert McKerr of Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, IN
Jean Russell of Haverhill Elementary School in Fort Wayne, IN
Jessica Carlson of Garrett Middle School in Garrett, IN
Yvonne Lucas of Frankie Woods McCullough Girls’ Academy in Gary, IN
Liz Martin of Goshen Middle School in Goshen, IN
Jodi Koors of North Decatur Elementary School in Greensburg, IN
Christy Diehl of Jefferson High School in Lafayette, IN
John Gensic of Penn High School in Mishawaka, IN
Brittany Snyder of Northside Middle School in Muncie, IN
Megan Bilbo of Noblesville High School in Noblesville, IN
Allison Larty of Noblesville High School in Noblesville, IN
Michael Wallace of Sullivan High School in Sullivan, IN
Marianne Mazely-Allen of Terre Haute North Vigo High School in Terre Haute, IN
Kelly Day of Westfield Middle School in Westfield, IN
Amy Heath of Pleasant View Elementary in Yorktown, IN