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The NEA encourages its members to use Assessment Advisor to rate the assessments they’ve used in their classrooms! 4,000 teachers in 40 states have checked out the site so far. Have you?

Read the NEA Today article.

Survey: Today’s teaching force is less experienced, more open to change
By Jackie Mader
Hechinger Report, October 23, 2012

Teacher-Leader Corps Helps Turn Around Schools
By Stephen Sawchuck
Education Week, April 20, 2011

New Teachers are the New Majority 
By Celine Coggins & Heather Peske
Education Week, January 19, 2011

Lesson Plan in Boston Schools: Don’t Go It Alone
By Mike Winerip
New York Times, August 8, 2010


Memphis Fellows

The Teaching Policy Fellowship is a highly selective program for teachers interested in having a voice in decisions that affect their profession. During a cohort experience that spans 18 months, Fellows meet in monthly sessions that offer:

  • Personal interaction with key education leaders;

  • A challenging course of study in education policy, research, and best practices from across the nation; and

  • The opportunity to advocate for policies that will better serve students and retain excellent teachers.

For more information, please visit our Fellows page or read our FAQs.

Meet the Memphis Teaching Policy Fellows 2014-2015 Cohort:

Sophia Adem

Special Education Chairperson, Sherwood Elementary School Memphis, Tennessee

Successful teachers teach successful students.

Sophia Adem is a special education teacher at Sherwood Elementary, where she serves highly motivated 4th and 5th grade resource students in both inclusionary and pull-out settings. She currently serves as special education chairperson at the school. Sophia is proud of having been awarded several grants that have allowed her students to go on field trips and receive supplies. She graduated from Howard University with a BA in Journalism and is currently pursuing an MS in Educational Leadership from Christian Brothers University.

Jon Alfuth

High School Geometry Teacher, the Soulsville Charter School Memphis, Tennessee

Teacher voices should be heard strongly and often to ensure that our kids are held to the highest standard of education possible.

Jon Alfuth is a high school geometry teacher at The Soulsville Charter School, where he began teaching in 2013. Jon also co-coaches the school’s debate team, which was the city runner-up in 2013-14. Prior to joining Soulsville, Jon taught algebra at the legacy-Memphis City Schools for two years. He became a teacher because he believes that education is the fundamental solution to many of our nation’s problems. Jon writes frequently about education for his blog, Bluff City Education. His work has been featured in Memphis’ Commercial Appeal, on the blog Eduwonk, and on Huffington Post, where one of his stories was named one of the ten education must-reads for 2013. Jon holds a BS in Political Science and an MA in Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Shenise Anderson

A.P. English Teacher, Fairley High School Memphis, Tennessee

I am an advocate for teacher retention and I want to be instrumental in fighting for policies to keep effective educators.

Shenise Anderson teaches secondary English Language Arts in Fairley High School. She started her teaching career in 2010 in Memphis. She has taught classes from 9th grade Language Arts to AP English literature and composition. She has taken on various leadership roles both at her school and within the district. Currently, she is a curriculum writer, a learning coach, Common Core leader and her school’s National Honor Society advisor. Prior to becoming a teacher, Shenise worked as an accountant. Shenise holds a BA in English and an MS in Accounting from Alabama A&M University.

Alysha Bird

Honors English I Teacher, White Station High School Memphis, Tennessee

I want to see more students have access to highly-qualified, highly-motivated, and highly-effective teachers. I believe this is possible through personally-tailored teacher support programs and opportunities for teachers to grow professionally.

Alysha Bird is a Common Core-trained, 9th grade English teacher at White Station High School. Alysha pursued a career in teaching because of her desire to share her passion for education and learning with young people. She is passionate about teaching and holds her students to high academic standards. In addition to teaching English at White Station, Alysha serves as a Learning Coach, a role that allows her to utilize her peer-mentoring skills. Alysha plans to spend many more years teaching, mentoring and influencing students in the classroom, and hopes to continue to positively influence other teachers — thereby reaching more students —in her coaching role. Alysha earned a BA in Psychology and an MA in Secondary Education from the University of Memphis.

Laura Brady

1st Grade Inclusion Teacher, White Station Elementary Memphis, Tennessee

I believe that all students have strengths that can help them excel in the future.

Laura Brady is an inclusion teacher serving 1st grade special needs and general education students at White Station Elementary. Laura passionately believes in all students’ learning abilities. She is focused on using Common Core strategies to help her students excel academically and socially, and collaborates weekly with her peers, colleagues and the district to ensure that Common Core State Standards are implemented in her classroom. She is currently serving as the Down Syndrome Specialist for her school and district and is committed to playing an active role in educating other teachers and administrators in behavioral and educational strategies that assist students with disabilities. She is also the Courtesy Committee chair for her school and actively boosts school morale. Laura previously taught 4th grade and kindergarten in Memphis City Schools. She holds a BA in Elementary Education from Crichton College and an MA in Special Education from Grand Canyon University.

Dena Brown

Orff Music Specialist, Shelby County Schools Memphis, Tennessee

A thousand teachers, a thousand methods.

Dena Brown is an Orff Music Specialist currently serving students in Memphis’ Westwood and Willow neighborhoods. As an Orff Specialist, Dena is responsible for exposing children to and guiding them to mastery of the musical concepts of rhythm, melody, harmony, form and expressive qualities. She has been teaching for almost eight years. Dena enjoys this job because she gets an opportunity to influence and build her students’ love for music. Dena has written in the PTA’s national publication on how schools can help foster parental involvement. She has also presented her findings on the subject at the International Conference on Parent Education and Parenting. Dena holds a BA from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga in Music, an MA in Education from Union University, and an Educational Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Mississippi.

Erin Davidson

1st Grade Teacher, Raineshaven Elementary School Memphis, Tennessee

I believe that all children should receive a quality education with the best resources available, no matter what community they live in.

Erin Davidson is a 1st grade teacher at Raineshaven Elementary School. Originally from Wisconsin, Erin began her teaching career in 2003 after a stint in journalism. She moved to Tennessee to pursue her passion for educating underprivileged children and for the past ten years has taught in Title One schools. Erin has previously taught kindergarten, 2nd and 5th grades. She has been a mentor for new teachers, served as grade chair, and was named an Irreplaceable teacher for the 2011-12 school year based on her performance. Erin graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a BA in Journalism and a minor in Spanish. She earned an MA in Teaching-Elementary Education from the University of Memphis.

Alana Dawson

6th grade science teacher, Kirby Middle School Memphis Tennessee

I believe that socioeconomic status does not determine my students’ achievement or ability to succeed, the students I teach from low income areas will not become another statistic and are destined to be great.

Alana Dawson is a 6th grade science teacher at Kirby Middle School in Memphis. Alana is passionate about empowering urban inner city school children to recognize and pursue their true potential. She focuses on building positive student-teacher relationships, student confidence, and academic achievement and growth through relevant real-world instruction and data analysis. Alana strives to help both her students and her colleagues succeed and is currently a member of the SCS science curriculum revision committee. Previously a Learning Coach, she is now Master Teacher, dedicated to mentoring and supporting instructors by building on their expertise to foster student success. Alana earned a BA in Education with a concentration in Integrated Studies K-6 and an MA in Education with a concentration in Science grades K-8.

Daniel DeShon

6th-8th Grade Special Education Teacher, Treadwell Middle School Memphis, Tennessee

I believe that all teachers have a responsibility to add their own voice to the collective whole in order to ensure that those making decisions about education are fully informed.

Daniel DeShon teaches special needs students at Treadwell Middle School, an Innovation Zone school within the Shelby County Schools district. Dan turned to teaching after a thirty-year career as a horticultural buyer. He was a member of the 2009 Memphis Teaching Fellows cohort, and began teaching that fall. Dan has found a special niche working with middle school students with significant learning disabilities, and has focused on forging meaningful relationships with his students and their parents, families, as well as community organizations. He has helped organize the Treadwell Campus Improvement Coalition, which has secured almost $6000 in grants to work with the community to improve the outdoor spaces on his school’s campus. The projects are designed to create a nurturing learning space for students, teaching kids to take charge of their environment and serving as a model for standing up to blight in the neighborhood. Dan returned to the college classroom after 30 years to earn his MA in Teaching from the University of Memphis.

Shawn M. Hayes

K-5 Instructional Resource Teacher, Fairley Elementary Memphis, Tennessee

Empowerment is the key that opens doors. There is no greater gift than the empowerment of tomorrow’s leaders today. This is the essence of education.

Shawn M. Hayes is a K-5 Instructional Resource Teacher a Fairley Elementary, where he began teaching in 2011. Prior to becoming a teacher, Shawn worked for a brief time in television. He left the media profession to pursue a life-long passion for helping youth, fostered by his work in youth leadership development. Shawn has served as his school’s administrative team member, culture team member, leadership team member, support team leader, Common Core chair and School Improvement Plan chair. He has co-authored the school’s School Improvement Grant, awarded over a 3-year period to assist in closing the achievement gap at Fairley Elementary. Shawn is the recipient of the 2012 Prestige Award and the Barbara Bolton Award for Excellence in Special Education, as well as a 2012 Failure Free Reading and MCS Teacher of the Month. He has served as a Tennessee Common Core Coach since 2013. He holds a BA in Electronic Media from the University of Cincinnati, and an MA in Education from the University of Memphis.

Amber Ingram

3rd Grade Math Teacher, Cromwell Elementary Memphis, Tennessee

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.

Amber Ingram is a 3rd grade math teacher at Cromwell Elementary, where she has taught for four years and has been the grade chair for the past two years. Amber also serves as a Model math teacher for Shelby County Schools, sharing strategies for each month’s upcoming curriculum with fellow colleagues. Amber became a teacher because she is passionate about increasing student achievement. Her ultimate goal as a teacher is to work with others to start closing the achievement. Amber graduated from The University of Memphis with a BS in Teaching All Learners.

Tanika Johnson

Special Education Instructional Resource Teacher Spring Hill Elementary Memphis, Tennessee

Professional development is the key to developing a passion about learning and creating lifelong learners.

Tanika Johnson is currently a special education instructional resource teacher, for grades kindergarten through third, at Spring Hill Elementary School. Since 2010, she has also served as a comprehensive developmental classroom (CDC) mild teacher for grades kindergarten through fifth and CDC moderate teacher for grades kindergarten through second. Throughout her teaching career, she has been the Recipient of the I Teach, I Am an Irreplaceable Public Campaign Award, for attaining an overall teacher evaluation measure in the top ten percent, of the Memphis City Schools teacher force, for the 2011-2012 school year. Additionally, she is a Teach Plus-NEA Future of the Profession Fellow andNEA GPS Online Community Co-Facilitator for Elementary Special Education. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree, in Psychology with a minor in Sociology, from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Furthermore, she holds a Master of Arts, in Professional Counseling, from Argosy University, Nashville. She completed her teacher education program, in special education, at Freed-Hardeman University

Lori Liggins

Reading Teacher, Memphis Academy of Health Sciences Memphis, Tennessee


Lori Liggins is a reading teacher at the Memphis Academy of Health Sciences. She began teaching in 2008. Lori is passionate about literacy and has served as a reading specialist, reading interventionist, and English department chair. She is the sponsor of the MAHS Lions Readers Book Club. Lori’s motto is the same as Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” She holds a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Mississippi and an MA in Education from Union University.

Jeffrey Mister

TN Common Core Coach, 8th Grade Pre-Algebra Teacher, Airways Middle School Memphis, Tennessee

I believe that Common Core is the vehicle to enable our students to reach their inert potential and become the creative problem-solvers that America needs to thrive as a nation.

Jeffrey Mister is a Tennessee Mathematics Common Core Coach, 8th grade pre-algebra teacher and math department chair at Airways Middle School. In his role as Mathematics Core Coach, Jeffrey has led dozens of Common Core trainings for hundreds of teachers, facilitators and administrators from various schools across the state of Tennessee, helping them develop practical strategies to implement Common Core with fidelity in their respective schools and classrooms. He has written Common Core curriculum for the unified Shelby County Schools district as well as designed instructional and assessment tasks for In addition, Jeffrey leads Mathematics Common Core training for the I-Zone schools. He has always taught in Title 1 schools where he is an advocate for the achievement of all students. Jeffrey graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BBA in Marketing and earned an MAT in teaching from Christian Brothers University.

Jeffrey Monroe

Chemistry Faculty, Hollis F. Price Middle College High School Memphis, Tennessee

Teaching our young minority students how to succeed in STEM sets them on a path of enrichment in any endeavor. With a lack of young African American STEM teachers in the profession, I have a moral obligation to set an alternative example of achievement and excellence.

Jeffrey Monroe is on the high school chemistry faculty at Hollis F. Price Middle College on the campus of The Lemoyne Owen College, where he also teaches personal finance, academic seminar and physical education. Jeffrey became a teacher in the spring of 2010 and has since been recognized by Effective Practices Incentive Community (EPIC) for building college readiness in chemistry and by the New Teacher Center for best practices. Jeffrey is also a Lead Teacher for the University of Memphis STEM Research Project “Water Everywhere”. His ultimate goal is to develop practices and policy in a way that comprehensively addresses and improves STEM education nationally. Jeffrey earned a BS in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana and an MA in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis.

Diane Perry

Kindergarten Teacher, Riverdale Elementary Germantown, Tennessee

I hope to be instrumental in the incorporation of an evaluation measure for non-tested teachers that allows individual classroom progress to be assessed as the basis for summative scoring.

Diane Perry is a kindergarten teacher at Riverdale School, where she also serves as a cheerleading sponsor. Diane began teaching in 2009. The cornerstone of her teaching practice is to have every student love school and know that they are loved at school. She has received several grants to improve her students’ academic success, including a grant that enabled every classroom at Riverdale School to have an Interactive White Board. Diane is a Shelby County Schools’ district leader, member of the Kindergarten Curriculum Committee, and webmaster of the Kindergarten Kove Common Core website that is accessed by teachers worldwide. She began her career at Dexter Elementary Kindergarten, where she served for four years. Diane holds a BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of Memphis and a MEd in Teaching and Learning Concentration from Union University.

Katherine Poandl

Mathematics Teacher, Central High School Memphis, Tennessee

I am excited to be a member of the Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship and use my experience to better serve my community.

Katherine Poandl began teaching high school mathematics in 2010. She has taught algebra I, geometry, algebra II and pre-calculus at Hamilton High and Central High schools. During this time, she has served as department co-chair, assisted with organizing End of Course cohorts, offered ACT tutoring, hosted school professional developments, and served as assistant softball coach. Before entering the classroom, Katherine served as a child welfare worker with the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia in the child abuse/neglect division. She holds a BA in Sociology and an MA in Education from Christian Brothers University.

Bonnie Proctor

1st Grade Teacher, Innovation Zone School Memphis, Tennessee

Effective teaching is a requirement for producing a school full of learners who can challenge their own thinking. Teaching therefore is not just a job, it is ongoing leadership of various aspects.

Bonnie Proctor is a 1st grade teacher at an Innovation Zone School in the Shelby County School District. Before teaching, she was as an educational assistant for multi-handicapped students which motivated her to work with children further. As a teacher, Bonnie led the 4th grade team and helped inspire high school students to speak during honors programs by supporting them in the community. Bonnie participated in Measures for Effective Teaching videos, which gave her the opportunity to support efforts towards identifying effective teaching in public schools. Bonnie’s ultimate goal as a teacher is to keep the innovative and nurturing aspect of teaching alive. She graduated from Lemoyne Owen College with a BS in Social Studies and the University Of Mississippi with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. She received her Education Specialist Degree from Union University.

Catina Roberts

1st Grade Teacher, Hawkins Mill Elementary Memphis, Tennessee

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.

Catina Roberts began teaching in Shelby County Schools in 2008. Catina decided to become a teacher after having wonderful experiences volunteering in her daughter's kindergarten classroom. She has taught in rural and urban school districts, including teaching pre-kindergarten for four years in Tunica County School District. Catina has taught 1st grade in Shelby County Schools for the past two years. She has organized and provided responsive classroom training for her peers during the district’s In-Service session. Catina's ultimate goal is to see her students become self-motivated facilitators of their own learning. She graduated from the University of Memphis with a BS in Elementary Education.

Becky Taylor

3rd Grade Teacher, Idlewild Elementary School Memphis, Tennessee

I believe that it is not enough to elevate test scores; educators must be provided with the resources, support and guidance to elevate whole students to be leaders of tomorrow.

Becky Taylor is a 3rd grade teacher at Idlewild Elementary School, a Science and Technology Optional School in midtown Memphis. Becky grew up in the public school system of Memphis, and felt called to return and give back to her community. She is the grade chair and 3rd grade Leadership Team representative, as well as a member of the PBIS Committee and PTO. Becky also reaches out to the community-at-large to head a yearly school-wide fundraiser for LeBonheur Children's Hospital, serves on the Idlewild Children's Center's Board of Directors, and acts as chapter secretary for Delta Kappa Gamma. Becky believes that a rigorous, socially-conscious curriculum that includes an integration of the arts, community outreach and creative exploration helps prepare students to be educated leaders in their community and the world. Becky graduated magna cum laude from Presbyterian College with a BS in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Spanish.

Yari Torres

Spanish 1 Teacher, Douglass High School Memphis, Tennessee

Foreign language in early education and beyond is a catalyst for great developmental growth in students and can make them competitive leaders in the global economy.

Yari Torres began teaching in 2009 and currently serves over 100 amazing students at Douglass High School in North Memphis. Yari is passionate about instilling in her students a meaningful and long-standing desire for learning (especially foreign language) and the mindset that, despite numerous factors working against them, they can do what others say cannot be done. In addition to teaching Spanish, Yari has created the Douglass High School’s first-ever boys soccer team to ensure that all students would feel accepted and comfortable in a new environment by participating in one of their favorite past times. She holds a BS and an MS in Social Work from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Lindsey Williams

6th Grade Social Studies Teacher, The Soulsville Charter School Memphis, Tennessee

The achievement gap in America is a social justice issue. All children, regardless of zip code and income, deserve a highly-qualified teacher and an access to an education that will set them up for college and life success.

Lindsey Williams teaches 6th grade social studies at the Soulsville Charter School, where she also serves as history department chair and is leading the department in creating a Common Core-aligned curriculum guide for social studies. In addition to academic leadership, Lindsey coaches middle school dance. Lindsey first experienced the achievement gap as a teenager, tutoring in an inner-city charter school in Louisville, Kentucky. Since that time, she has been passionate about educational equality and believes that all children should have access to highly qualified and passionate teachers. Upon graduating from college, Lindsey worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) where she coordinated educational tutoring programs for four Memphis City schools. Following that, she joined the Memphis Teacher Residency program and earned a Masters in Urban Education. Lindsey earned a BA in psychology with an emphasis on educational access and privilege from Rhodes College.

Ryan Winn

Math Instructor, Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School Memphis, Tennessee

Ryan Winn is a founding middle school mathematics instructor at Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School. In his current role, he supports 6th grade students in both mathematics and English language arts courses. Ryan helped develop the Common Core-aligned 6th grade math curriculum and implemented an innovative vocabulary development program at the school. He previously taught 6th and 7th grade mathematics at Ida B. Wells Academy, a 2011-2012 Reward School which scored in the top five percent of growth in the state of Tennessee. Ryan is a Teacher Leadership Coach for incoming Teach for America corps members and a proud alumnus of The Catholic University of America, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2011.