For the last three months, we have been sharing a special podcasts series: Leading from the Classroom, created with the 2016 State Teachers of the Year. Their stories have been full of heart and hope, and they have used their voices magically on behalf of students and educators. Their messages are more than just a story. They are calling us all to act: Use your voice. It matters.
This remarkable group of educators spoke on everything from using your voice to influence policy, to showing the beautiful young woman in her class that “…her name is not ‘refugee.’ It is so much more. And she has much to offer the world.” Their stories provided us a front row seat along their journeys of self-discovery, and the process of learning to activate and elevate their voices.
Their voices were amplified through the media – including Education Week, Local NPR stations, and many local daily newspapers, like the Journal Star in Peoria, Illinois; Pennsylvania’s Kidsburgh; and others. They amplified their voices on See How They Grow, an NWEA site dedicated to sharing educator stories of personal and student growth. They filled the social sphere with unforgettable epiphany moments from their year as State Teacher of the Year.
These teachers, without a doubt, found their voices. They are using them powerfully to be a catalyst for students and educators everywhere. As we close out this series, if you did not have the opportunity to share in these moving stories, we invite you to visit Leading from the Classroom. Advancing the development of teachers as professionals is number one in NWEA’s National Agenda, and we are honored to participate and partner with CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) in the National Teacher of the Year program.
Recently, I went to Dallas, Texas, to engage with and meet the new cohort of State Teachers of the Year for 2017. Once again, I found myself inspired and energized to be among them. One particular day, I came upon an impromptu moment with a group of teachers gathered around the lobby piano, singing “We are the World.” But, they had changed the words. They sang, “We are the world. We are the ones who make a brighter day so let’s start giving. There’s a choice we’re making. We’re saving children’s lives. It’s true we make a better day, just wait and see.” Later this year, we will be partnering with these teachers to create another podcast series. And I have no doubt that we WILL see them make a better day, for so many. And I can’t wait.