This member guest post is written by NCTE’s Virginia P12 Policy Analyst, Chantal Winstead, who teaches English 11 and Advanced Placement Language and Composition at John Champe High School in Loudoun County, Virginia.
This July, I was one of twenty-eight individuals selected to attend the Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, DC. I had developed and submitted a proposal for community business partners to create internships for eighth and ninth graders. In pitching my idea to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, I highlighted the importance of this opportunity for all transitioning high school students, but especially for minority and at-risk youth.
I was humbled to learn that my project idea was selected by a panel of fellow teachers from across the country out of more than 160 submissions. While it certainly gave me a feeling of pride, it made me realize the enormous responsibility to flesh out my idea, implement it, and stay connected with my team long after the summit’s end.
Joining me in this effort was a colleague from Loudoun County, Virginia, and NCTE’s P12 policy analyst from Maryland. We worked with an amazing team of Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellows and representatives from several DC-based education organizations, including NCTE and America Achieves, who offered inspiring ideas, expert advice, and constant praise. I have so much admiration and gratitude for their commitment to us.
The most powerful moment for me came on the last day when a fellow teacher stood and emotionally described to Arne Duncan and a room full of empathetic educators the defeat so many of us encounter at some point in our careers. She went on to offer a testimonial to the commitment and the passion of teachers, principals, superintendents, and state and national education organizations dedicated to changing the profession, one idea at a time. She claimed she was leaving the Teach to Lead Summit with a renewed hope. Certainly, her message echoed throughout the summit: we are strongest when we are united.
It was inspiring to see so much passion and advocacy in one room. Teach to Lead offers real teachers a real voice and allows them the time and resources to develop ideas they can carry back to their communities. I will remember this experience always.