“All year long whenever I tried to explain to anyone what MTLC was, the first word that popped into my mind was Think Tank – a place where people with brilliant minds worked together to ‘serve a purpose,’” explained Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative member and Grandville, Michigan elementary principal Ana Aleman-Putman.

The final convening of the 2022-23 Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative – often referred to as MTLC – cohort was held on June 15 during a virtual showcase. Members joined together to reflect on their experiences throughout the year with impactful moments, expertise sharing, wins and advice for the incoming cohort.

Co-convened by The Education Trust-Midwest and Teach Plus-Michigan, The Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative is a highly selective leadership opportunity for outstanding Michigan teachers looking to share their expertise around equity-focused instructional practices, deepen their knowledge of education policy, and gain a voice in decisions that affect historically underserved students and the teaching profession. As part of the program, MTLC members join working groups where they collaborate to advance systems change on key policy topics. This year’s groups explored areas including equitable school funding, educator workforce and support, social-emotional learning, transition to post-secondary, and early childhood education.

“The participants in our MTLC cohort came from a breadth of experience and backgrounds,” explained Aleman-Putman. “The kindergarten teacher who believed every child deserves an accessible library in their school, the data dude who shared the need for equitable school funding using not only his persuasive manner but also hard numbers, and the senior fellows who brought their patience and wisdom not only to the monthly meetings but to our small group meetings too.”

Recently, the cohort worked to foster relationships between teachers and lawmakers to provide a more equitable education system for all students by engaging in a day of advocacy in Lansing. As a result, the team of collaborative educators met with 18 policymakers advocating for areas including universal FAFSA completion, teacher retention efforts, equitable school funding, and an expansion of early childhood education to all three and four-year-olds throughout the state.

Additionally, the cohort secured 38 pieces of media coverage viewed by an estimated 543k through op-ed articles and interviews in sources including Bridge Michigan, MLive Chalkbeat Detroit, and others.

“I am most excited about working with other passionate educators whom all wish to improve the educational system here in Michigan for students, parents, and staff,” explained Chad Zwolinski, Summer Learning Program principal for Rochester Community Schools. Zwolinski is part of the incoming MTLC cohort which kicks off in July 2023.

Kelsey Wiley, an MTLC 2021-22 cohort member and ELA Teacher at Cass Technical High School, will join the next cohort as a senior fellow providing mentorship and guidance for the incoming group members.

“Mentoring a working group on various talking points with legislators, creating digital media to promote, and helping to ground their anxieties once there is momentum, I’m very excited to see how this cohort can support Michigan students and educators.”

One point echoed loudly throughout the testimonials during the showcase: being a part of the MTLC allows for growth. This growth has equated to confidence for many of these teachers to continue to advocate fiercely for themselves, their students, and their communities.

“The educator participants, the questions, the policy reviews, the presenters, the problem-solving conversations, yes, MTLC is truly a think tank where passion met drive, met power -for equitable change,” said Aleman-Putman.

For more information about the MLTC, visit our website.