Sunday, January 30, 2011

Making Change Now--Final Thoughts on Dallas

Since September 28, when I was announced as NH Teacher of the Year, I have been grappling with the reasons why I was chosen--there are so many competent, effective teachers in our state, and not very many of them get the recognition they deserve.  I have held, since that September morning, the complete understanding that I do not sit here as the best teacher in the state--I am simply a representative of the best teachers that we are so fortunate to have, from the north country to the Manchester schools.  And while I have been quite comfortable understanding that, I have not understood how I would be expected to represent our teachers.

This week the 2011 National Teacher of the Year Program Conference has clarified that for me.  We have spent the past 5 days here in Dallas receiving training in lobbying policy makers, navigating political roadblocks, defining and refining our messages, public speaking strategies, media savviness, and using our voice to represent the whole.  I feel as though I have been groomed to return home and begin my job for the year.  And while I am so relieved that the job expected of me is the job I have craved, I am fearful of what lies ahead of me, for it is foreign to me and very much exists in the unknown.    

This week I have come up with many ideas, but these are some of the following plans I intend to act upon: 
  • Over the course of the next year I will visit districts across the state, meeting teachers and hearing their issues. 
  • I would like to start up round table groups so that I understand what issues our state's teachers are most concerned with and how I can best represent them to our policy makers. 
  • I will be contacting our state universities and visiting with pre-service teachers. 
  • I will be contacting our state newspapers and requesting that I be allowed to write a monthly educational article showcasing the work that is done in our state. 
  • I will be pursuing funding to pilot a parent education program that steps outside of the box and begins to create data that shows that parent involvement is essential and that our schools are responsible for making this happen, because there will never be any legislation that includes parents and community in our schools. 
  • I will promote the Teacher of the Year program, with the intention that more teachers from districts across the state take the time to honor the talented, amazing staffs they are fortunate to have.
  • I will meet with policy makers about educational funding issues that our state is grappling with.
I am no longer the same person I was when I arrived here 5 days ago.  I am now, officially, the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year with an agenda that I have been given the tools to execute.  I promise I will be an active, political representative.  I promise to represent our students, our colleagues across the state, our communities, and our parents.  And I will attempt to do it with all the humility and grace in the world--but I will not do it quietly. 

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