Our Journey Continues

Mike Stein and Marc Walls have been selected to further their work with the Hope Street Group Tennessee State Teacher Fellows program so they can continue providing a leadership voice in education policy. Both have passionately worked for the past two years as part of the inaugural group of state teacher fellows.

The Hope Street Group Tennessee State Teacher Fellows Program is a nonpartisan, nonprofit program that provides a group of diverse public school teachers the ability to develop skills around peer and community engagement, facilitating focus groups, and communication strategies while giving them opportunities to amplify teacher voice to inform policy decisions. Tennessee State Teacher Fellows have collected feedback and the opinions of Tennessee teachers on topics such as teacher professional development, Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2), chronic absenteeism, and effective discipline practices.

Mike Stein teaches 11th grade English and ESL at Coffee County High School in Manchester, TN. After serving on the social media and legislative subcommittees with Hope Street Group, he applied and was accepted to serve in a brand-new role of statewide engager, which only lasts for one school year. There is only one statewide engager per state fellowship, and his primary responsibilities include: assisting the state director in the building of annual meetings, communicating semi-regularly with other state teacher fellows, and familiarizing himself more deeply with the data collected by Teacher Fellows on policy issues in order to thoughtfully get that information into the hands of engaged decision-makers and peers.

Marc Walls teaches physical science and biology at Northeast High School in Clarksville, TN. He served on the legislative subcommittee with Hope Street Group for two years and then applied for, and was accepted into the new two-year role of Hope Street Group Teacher Advisory Council member. His primary responsibilities will include assessing operations, collaboratively working on strategic priorities, brainstorming new avenues for engagement, and elevating action on teacher solutions.

Together, Mike and Marc are also working on a joint venture to elevate teacher voice outside of our work with Hope Street Group. While many debate the success of individual schools and school districts, rarely is the decision-making left up to the stakeholders who have the most experience working with students. UnpackEDU.com and its accompanying Facebook page, facebook.com/unpackeducation/, were founded to curate resources and information for teachers to push the continuum of professional learning and self-advocacy. We believe teachers are their own best advocates, and our mission is to produce high-quality content for teacher-leaders for the purpose of synergizing their voyage toward becoming action-oriented education advocates. To further help express the need for elevating teacher voice, Mike and Marc have been invited to present at the prestigious LEAD Conference in October of this year. The LEAD Conference will be held at the Music City Center and it gives school and district leaders a chance to share and discuss effective practices happening every day in Tennessee schools. With valuable first-person examples, educators from across the state share their best ideas for preparing Tennessee's students for college and careers.