Listening to Champions of Change

Receiving input directly from educators is a high priority for the Department of Education and the Obama administration, which is why the White House recently invited a group of teachers to the White House to participate in a roundtable discussion as part of their “Champions of Change series: Winning the Future Across America.”  The White House’s weekly series spotlights individuals who have done extraordinary things in their communities, and teachers came from across the country to discuss with senior administration officials the need for transformational change within the educational system to turn the teaching profession into an “iconic profession.”

Champions of Change roundtable discussion at the White House

“As educators we can and should have a voice in moving student learning forward not only in our own classrooms and schools, but in the broader landscape of policy as well,” said roundtable attendee Kris Woleck, a K-5 Mathematics Coordinator at the New Canaan Public Schools in New Canaan, Conn., and a former ED Teaching Ambassador Fellow.  Woleck noted that the most powerful part of the discussion “was the opportunity to hear about the work of so many other tremendous educators from across the country.

To hear each of them share not only their experiences but also their insights into the solutions and next steps that might support education in this country was inspiring. It brought me great pride to know that as a teacher, I have colleagues who have such a voice and the potential to make impact on policy at the national level, in their states, and in their local districts.

Tracey Van Dusen, another Champion of Change, an AP Government and American Studies teacher at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow explained that senior administration officials were eager to hear ideas from teachers:

We discussed the desire for more effective communication and partnerships with parents, differentiated professional development opportunities, and improved evaluation and accountability systems.

After attending the conference, Lisa Coates, a teacher at Liberty Middle School in Hanover, Va., and an ED Teaching Ambassador Fellow, noted that the most powerful movement in education reform can start within the communities we work. “Everyone has to play a part in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world,” she said.

Teachers across the nation are working tirelessly to provide, safe, high-quality learning environments in classrooms to help secure America’s competiveness in the 21st century and are the true “champions of change.”

For more information on the Champions of Change series, including a video of Kris, Tracey, and Lisa, visit