Math teacher Adam Moss of Arnold Memorial Elementary has been chosen as one of four elementary school teachers to participate in the 2014-15 Tennessee Educator Fellows program.
The newly formed initiative is offered through the State Collaborative on Reforming Education and brings together 22 teachers from across the state and at all three levels of public education.
The purpose of the fellowship is to promote the voice of educators in the policy-making process. It is believed increased communication between teachers and policy makers will result in student-focused policies.
Moss said he heard about the opportunity through a colleague.
“As a classroom teacher there have been a lot of changes in the last few years, a lot of policies that have an effect not only teachers, but the students. It is impacting their learning,” he said. “... [If] at any point ... I am able to help influence or impact this for the better and keep it focused on our kids, then I want to be able to leverage that.”
He was one of more than 350 applicants interested in the position. Only 22 were selected to serve. The 22 are comprised of four elementary school teachers, 10 from middle schools and nine from the high school level.
Moss explained his role as an elementary school educator will offer a unique perspective.
“I know a lot of our focus in the most recent years has been to get our kids college and career ready, and those at the secondary level that are so much closer to that level. They have a clear understanding of where they are, but I think sometimes they don’t think farther down the line back to elementary,” he said. “We are at the starting point. It takes our perspectives and experiences at the lower levels to get them ready to be college and career ready.”
According to a press release sent out by SCORE, the selected teachers are associated with various education groups, including the Tennessee Education Association, Professional Educators of Tennessee, Teach Plus and Teach for America.
Educator Fellows Coordinator Cicely Woodard hailed Tennessee teachers as the “fundamental” reason for the state’s recognition of being the fastest-improving state for student achievement in 2013.
Added Woodard, “This program will give them insight into the policies that have the greatest impact on them and their students and many opportunities to share a student-focused perspective and represent thousands of classroom teachers across the state.”
Moss said he is not going into the fellowship with an agenda. Instead, he would rather hear from his fellow educators to bring their concerns to the table.
All fellows will receive professional development to boost their knowledge of current policies at the beginning of their service. They will also learn about how policies are created. The fellows will be in communication with each other, SCORE, local teachers and policy makers throughout the process.
Moss said he has no problem calling State Rep. Kevin Brooks up to talk about bills as they come up in the Statehouse.
“But I think having that title associated with my name might put a little more weight in maybe inviting other representatives to have a meeting,” he said.
Moss explained this is his first time dealing with policy, politics or legislation.
“I have spent the last three summers, however, working in this region as a Common Core (State Standards) trainer to help teachers transition into the new standards,” he said. “I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on where we are in the transition, where we have come from and where we are trying to get to.”
Participants will engage in “professional learning” geared toward education issues for one year before another class is chosen.