Press Release

Led by The Education Trust-Midwest and Teach Plus, the Collaborative Focuses on Shaping Education Policy and Practice

September 14, 2022—The Education Trust-Midwest and Teach Plus have named twenty equity-focused educators from around Michigan as members of its highly selective teacher leadership collaborative where educators will 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.

“We believe teachers are powerful equity allies in advocating for equitable policies and practices in Michigan,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “The Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative aims to create more opportunities for these outstanding educators to learn together, share their knowledge and classroom expertise, and understand and engage in policy decisions that impact their schools and students, particularly students who are most underserved.”

“There is no more important time for educators to make their mark on education policy and on the systems that make the greatest difference for the success of students, especially low-income students and students of color. Teach Plus is excited to partner with The Education Trust-Midwest to grow and empower teacher leadership and voice across Michigan, and to place educators at the forefront of solutions and change that will shape the future in our state,” said Ben Locke, Teach Plus Michigan Executive Director.

“As a member of the Collaborative, I am most excited about connecting and working with teachers from all around the state. I hear so much from my school community; I can’t wait to connect the dots and speak with people from other schools to see what we can accomplish together,” said Alexandrea Somers, an MTLC member who teaches 4th grade at Detroit Achievement Academy.

The Education Trust-Midwest and Teach Plus launched the Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative in the 2021-22 school year. During the inaugural year of the program, MTLC members advocated for policy solutions related to equitable school funding, student mental health, the transition to post-secondary education and career, and the educator workforce. Their accomplishments include successfully advocating to increase funding for low-income students in this year’s state budget and to remove language that could be used to cut funding from low-income students first during a budget shortfall.  MTLC teacher leaders also advocated for increasing state-level investment for Grow Your Own programs, a strategy for addressing the shortage of educators and increasing workforce diversity. Specifically, MTLC educators advocated for a provision that targeted those Grow Your Own funds to teachers working in low-income districts, a recommendation that was ultimately included in this year’s state budget.

The newly inducted members of the MTLC hail from across the state, from Detroit to Sault Ste. Marie, and many communities in between including Flint, Grand Ledge, and Kentwood. Their teaching experience ranges from 2 to 25 years and across traditional public and charter public schools, from early elementary to high school. Cohort members were selected through a rigorous application process that required them to demonstrate effectiveness, commitment to equity, and pursuit of excellence and innovation in their teaching. Throughout the program, they will have the opportunity to network and share expertise with each other, while building skills in policy, advocacy, research, and communications, and collaborating to advocate for equity-minded changes for Michigan’s students.

The 2022-23 members of the Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative are:

  • Ana Alema-Putman, East Elementary, Grandville Public Schools
  • Frank Donner, Mark Twain School for Scholars, Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Desiree Fuller, Oak Park High School, Oak Park Schools
  • Jenna Grundstrom, Novi Meadows Elementary School, Novi Community School District
  • Wendy Johnson, East Kentwood Freshman Campus, Kentwood Public Schools
  • David Kobel, Ypsilanti Community High School, Ypsilanti Community Schools
  • Joseph Leibson, Birmingham Covington School, Birmingham Public Schools
  • Eric Leverette-Goodwin, International Academy of Flint
  • Adrianna Lynn, Teacher Academy, Kent Career Tech Center
  • Rhoshawda Miller, Perry Early Learning Center & Erickson Elementary, Ypsilanti Community Schools
  • Amanda Paulus, Sault Area High School, Sault Area Public Schools
  • Kristine Pipok, Crestwood High School, Crestwood School District
  • DeMilla Prince, Oak Park Preparatory Academy, Oak Park Schools
  • Kristin Rathje, Detroit Leadership Academy
  • Jacqueline Robinson, Southeastern High School, Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Ryleigh Scott, Grand Ledge High School, Grand Ledge Public Schools
  • Alexandrea Somers, Detroit Achievement Academy
  • Jennifer Swisher-Carroll, Edwardsburg High School, Edwardsburg Public Schools
  • Josie Whelan, Durfee Elementary- Middle School, Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Chad Zwolinski, Rochester High School, Rochester Community Schools

“As a member of the Collaborative, I hope to bring new ideas and strategies back to my district in an effort to support improved access and representation for all students,” said MLTC member Chad Zwolinski, who teaches Social Studies at Rochester High School.

About The Education Trust-Midwest

The Education Trust-Midwest is the Michigan-based office of the national nonprofit, The Education Trust, that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families. As a nonpartisan, data-driven education policy, research and advocacy organization, we are focused first and foremost on doing what is right for Michigan children, working alongside partners to raise the quality of teaching and learning in our public schools.

About Teach Plus

The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all.