By Leila Sammander, Early Childhood Education Program Associate, CCSSO
Our National Teacher of the Year Program (NTOY) recognizes educators across the country and empowers them to participate in policy discussions that will have a direct impact on their students. Through this program and other educator engagement initiatives, we’ve been fortunate to build partnerships with teachers in a variety of ways and welcome their expertise to inform our work in some of our programmatic areas, such as early childhood education.
CCSSO’s early childhood education team is currently engaged in an 18-month project that offers comprehensive support to nine states and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) to promote high-quality pre-kindergarten (PreK) opportunities for children. This project, Chiefs Promoting High-Quality Prek, provides state chiefs with dedicated space to create resources, improve access and develop policies to support state-funded preschool programs for our youngest learners.
An invaluable component of the Chiefs Promoting High-Quality Prek project has been to establish a Teacher Practitioners Advisory Board, a group of six outstanding teachers who specialize in early childhood education. The advisory board includes Sarah Loomis (2015 DODEA TOY), Mark Mautone (2015 NJ TOY), Ginger Brown (1998 CA TOY), Victoria Grotton (2015 ME TOY Finalist), Nathan Leatherwood (2017-2018 GA PreK Program TOY), and Jodi McNamara (2017-2018 GA PreK Program TOY). These expert educators support states on effective PreK teaching practices and serve as spokespeople for early childhood education across the country. The advisory board works with CCSSO and state education agencies in the following ways:
- Inform the work: Regular consultation with the advisory board allows CCSSO to solicit feedback and opinions on meeting content and planning.
- Networking: Opportunities for practitioner advisory board members to get to know state participants and national partners during meetings. Teachers and state members can connect informally on the work and dig into questions and answers.
- Leadership opportunities: Advisory board members have been actively engaged during CCSSO meetings and throughout the planning process. CCSSO’s early childhood education team and educator engagement team worked closely with advisory board members to provide input and feedback on agenda sessions and format in preparation for meetings while also facilitating sessions.
Collaborating with the Teacher Practitioners Advisory Board has been extremely beneficial in making decisions that will have a direct impact on students and we look forward to learning from them in the future.
CCSSO’s educator engagement team has been experimenting with a variety of models to identify how to effectively engage educators in their area of expertise across other program teams. Currently the early childhood education team is the only team exploring this particular model, however, we’re looking forward to exploring additional opportunities with other programs in the future.
For more information on our work in early childhood education, visit the early childhood education page here our website. For additional information about our National Teacher of the Year program or to learn more about our educator engagement efforts, visit the National Teacher of the Year page here on our website.
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