James is a top-notch teacher; his students make higher-than-average academic gains, his lessons are inquiry-based and promote a love of learning, and he has a natural and indescribable way of connecting with the hardest-to-reach students. The community adores James and all that he has brought to the climate and culture of the school.

But after just ten years in the classroom, James is tired of micromanaged school policies and dwindling school funding. He decides to pursue his school leader credentials so that he can have a “seat at the table” and pursue his passion of advocating for equitable education for all students.

This scenario plays out in New Jersey schools across the state. And while great teachers are undoubtedly needed in school leader roles, there is always a pang of hurt for the students, who are losing the direct impact of an exemplary educator. 

JerseyCAN has always felt passionate about the impact of great teachers. But unprecedented times calls for an even greater emphasis on ensuring that our best teachers stay in classrooms with students and have the opportunity to understand and engage in the development of education policy for the future.

That’s why we are excited to announce that today, in collaboration with We Raise New Jersey, JerseyCAN will launch its inaugural New Jersey Teacher Leader Policy Fellowship (Fellowship).  The Fellowship will support ten New Jersey Teacher Leader Policy Fellowship Participants (Fellows) over the next year to explore and discuss the latest policy trends and issues in New Jersey education. Selected Fellows will expand their knowledge and understanding of local, state, and national governance, the roles of educational stakeholders, and the importance of teacher leaders taking part in advocacy for student learning and the profession. 

The Fellowship meetings will commence in June, with the first convenings being held virtually. In addition to high-quality professional learning and networking opportunities, Fellows will earn a $2,000 stipend at the conclusion of the Fellowship for their commitment to this work. All meetings and convenings will take place outside of traditional teaching hours, so as not to interfere with educators’ teaching duties.  Applicants interested in learning more about the Fellowship can apply online by May 10, 2020.

We are undoubtedly facing unprecedented times in New Jersey education. Now more than ever, it is critical that practicing teachers have an opportunity to engage in the policy and rule-making of the future. So, if you are a teacher leader, please apply or encourage a teacher who you believe is a leader to apply!

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