The Under Secretary asked the Department’s Teacher and Principal Ambassador Fellows to share a professor and/or practitioner who positively impacted their career in the classroom in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week. Read on to be inspired by these teachers who have trained great teachers.
Professor Dixie Goswami
Director, Bread Loaf Teacher Network
Coordinator, Writing Curriculum, Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury Professor
Emerita, Clemson University Director, Write to Change Foundation
“Professor Goswami (pictured at right) transformed my life as a teacher when I was in my second year of teaching in at a middle school in NYC. I would describe the change in my teaching from being one where my students sat in straight rows where my voice was the most important to sitting in a circle with my students and listening to them develop the voice that was within them as readers, writers, and thinkers, who could speak with power about ideas important to them and our community. My curriculum went from reading from a textbook and grammar drills to students reading independently and in collaboration with peers from around the country.”
“I am grateful to Professor Goswami who has transformed my teaching. Prior to Professor Goswami’s classes, I did not consider myself someone who had a voice about educational policy, but through her courses and books, I have developed my capacity as a teacher researcher who has been engaged in teacher research for more than 20 years and have conducted studies with my students as co-researchers that have helped inform policies beyond the walls of my classroom. Thanks to Professor Goswami’s invitation to become a member of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network and her writing courses, I have learned ways for my students to become better writers and researchers, such as studying the wetlands in NYC with other students in Alaska and Hawaii, publishing stories and conducting action research on state mandated testing, and providing critical feedback to policymakers at the state and national levels.”
“As a result of my teacher education from Professor Goswami, I see the trajectory of my career as a teacher as one that is still rising . . . .” – Robert Baroz, 2011 Teacher Ambassador Fellow
“Professor Goswami changed my entire conception of what it meant to be a teacher, and she impelled me to leadership (without ever using that word). I met her the summer after my first year of teaching, and in few moments of conversation, she drew out of me the nature of the most important literacy work my students had been doing that year. After our first summer discussions, I realized that my students’ writing and reading skills could be most effectively developed if I were to co-research with them the nature of the discourse they did every day for differing functions, and that I could co-engage with them to find meaningful, authentic contexts for their writing. Ms. Goswami also positioned me– through those summer mentoring sessions — to CREATE pedagogical understanding and knowledge by enacting online work with colleagues, and in the process by holding each other professionally accountable for valuing and inquiring into the complexities of our students’ work. After that first summer being challenged and supported by Dixie, I never felt like I was doing my students justice if we weren’t actively corresponding and engaging with different sets of students and classrooms, and if we weren’t co-inquiring, researching, and publishing together.
“I’m grateful because Dixie Goswami helped me develop the common sense and deeply theorized notion that a teacher’s first source of knowledge is the work and experience of his or her students.
“During the 1991-92 school year, having been awakened to the huge range of “real world” function and contexts of writing through summer work with Dixie, I led my rural Aleutian Island high school students to create a taxonomy of everything they wrote for a week. We then categorized the types of writing and engaged in descriptive research about the features of each type of writing. What was the average sentence length (or reading level) of a journal entry, a grocery list, a set of class notes, an email, a love letter? What about the nature of the diction? This simple exercise transformed us into a team of literacy researchers, AND helped us to enact Goswami’s mantra in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network: ‘Students are not problems to be solved, but resources to be tapped.’” –Tom McKenna, 2013 Teacher Ambassador Fellow
Mr. Marc Turner
Lead Teacher, The Learning Collaborative
2005 National Council for Social Studies Outstanding Secondary Teacher
“I am grateful because Mr. Turner helped me develop an understanding that student learning is more about promoting the process over focusing only on the product.
“This lesson continues to shape my teaching every day. As a result of Mr. Turner’s guidance and training, I am a teacher that is constantly asking questions and reflecting on whether or not my instructional strategies are ones that are truly teaching students how to become independent learners and apply the skills and content used in my class in order to become contributing members of society after high school.”—Patrick Kelly, 2015 Teacher Ambassador Fellow
Dr. Sandra Harper President, McMurry University
Professor, Communications and Servant Leadership
“I’m grateful Dr. Harper (pictured at right with JoLisa) involved me in the pilot year of Servant Leadership as a preceptor because her classes in communications and leadership in Servant Leadership sparked my interest in leadership and especially in teacher leadership. She helped me develop communications skills to advocate on behalf of my students and taught me leadership skills that have been useful in multiple settings, including my work in Teach to Lead here at the Department.
“Her classes in public speaking laid a nice foundation for classes in teaching and gave me confidence to speak in front of others. She has been a fabulous mentor after graduation and I’m thankful for her investment in students.”—JoLisa Hoover, 2008 and 2014 Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow, 2015 Washington Fellow
Mr. Bil Johnson
Field Supervisor, Teacher Preparation Program, Brown University
“I’m grateful because Bil helped me to develop an appreciation and responsibility for crafting intellectually challenging and highly personal history education experiences for my students. In my history teaching practice, and during my later roles in leading history education programming in a school district and on a standards review committee with the National Board, I’ve been proud to be a fellow champion for the lasting importance of social studies and history education.”—James Liou, 2008 Teaching Ambassador Fellow, 2014 Fellow in the Offices of Education Technology and State Support
Ms. Andrea Lowenkopf Consultant, LitLife
Former Teacher, middle school, high school and graduate school
“Andrea was my staff developer when I was in my second year of teaching at Baruch College Campus High School. I was new to the school, and had taught my first year in the South Bronx. She supported me in teaching my 11th grade American Literature course, as I was developing a curriculum from scratch.
“I’m grateful because Andrea helped me develop my teaching practice to include all students in active learning.
“Andrea showed me how teachers often will talk to the right side of the room (if you are right-handed) and unconsciously students are not engaged by the teacher. As students held a whole-class, student-led discussion, I learned to move and stand in different points of the room, so that all students would be directly engaged with the teacher.”—, 2015 Principal Ambassador Fellow
Mr. Kim Marshall
Leadership Coach Publisher, Marshall Memo
“I’m grateful because Kim taught me how to observe quality teaching, time management and the power and importance of having difficult conversations. Additionally, Kim writes and publishes The Marshall Memo, which helps teachers across the country stay current with reviewing educational research.
“As a school leader and teacher, I have continued to work with Kim as my mentor and coach. He is often very supportive in helping me plan out appropriate professional development for teachers that help them improve their teaching by leveraging their strengths.”—Jessica Nauiokas, 2015 Principal Ambassador Fellows
Dr. Kelvin Santiago-Valles Associate Professor of Sociology, Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies, and Africana Studies, Binghamton University-SUNY
“Dr. Santiago-Valles is an outstanding, no-nonsense, and yet fun educator who has transformed my life. At a critical moment in my undergraduate studies, Kelvin helped me understand that the discipline of sociology is not an aspiration, but rather a gateway to understand and influence how the arts, sciences, and society are interdependent. Kelvin encouraged me to explore the construction of personal and social identity while helping me to situate my findings in an academic context.
“I’ve have repeatedly returned to Kelvin’s lessons as strategies to engage my K-12 students. In history classes, we’ve used students’ essential questions to better understand African American history, politics, and culture. And in science classes, we’ve used STEM principles to develop students’ understanding of eco-literacy. In both cases, our subject-area studies were a launching point for exploring how students’ individual experiences are both differentiated and integrated.”— Gamal D. Sherif, 2011 Teacher Ambassador Fellow
Professor Heather McKean
Senior Associate Faculty, Eastern Washington University
“I am grateful to Heather because she helped me build inquiry lessons and partnered with me to do research showing these lesson were the best way to teach students (young and older!). She also helped me design a presentation given at NSTA and then co-presented with me. These lessons are still being used in classrooms and during Professional Development.”—Tammie Schrader, 2008 Teacher Ambassador Fellow
Dr. Katherine K. Merseth
Graduate School of Education, Harvard University Faculty Director, Teacher Education
Faculty Director, Teacher Education Program
“I’m grateful because everything I learned about teaching and education, I learned from watching Professor Merseth who is a great teacher.
“Professor Merseth started her course by asking us to write the answer to the question: What is the purpose of education? This is something that all of us who work in education should ask ourselves on a regular basis so I always start my class on Education Policy the same way. Professor Merseth also assumed that the people sitting in front of her had good ideas and knowledge to bring to bear in discussions; not empty vessels who needed knowledge poured in their heads. Every student in my class now has to write three policy memos where their job is to develop their arguments. My job, over the course of the class, is to give them the tools they need to make any argument that they believe in to the best of their ability, because at the end of the day, that’s what matters – not what I think, but rather can they, as citizens in a democracy or a policy maker in any field argue for what they think is right.” – Gillian Cohen-Boyer, Director, Principal and Teaching Ambassador Fellowships, Office of Communications and Outreach