New Teacher Advisory Council brings teachers to the decision-making table


As part of our new teacher retention plan we're ensuring teachers' voices are heard in central office.

Teachers are the ones who are on the forefront everyday, working hard to make it all happen  — teaching all that needs to be taught while building meaningful relationships with our students. Teachers feel that there is a disconnect from those who are making the decisions that impact what goes on in their classrooms. We're working to change that right now.

Listening to teachers is important and having teachers at the decision-making table is the focus of the newly formed Teacher Advisory Council. The group is made up of MNPS Teachers of the Year and runners-up for the last four years, and they had their first meeting in November.

“When teachers are engaged in school decisions, school climate improves and turnover is reduced," said Metro Schools Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson. "We are committed to bringing some of our most talented teachers to the table to not only inform district policies but to improve our schools with the insights that matter the most —  with those who are in our classrooms everyday."

We will periodically provide the Board of Education with summaries of the feedback provided by the Teacher Advisory Council. We look forward to their contributions and feedback.

Members of the 2015-2016 Teacher Advisory Council include:

  • Dianne Winstead, 2nd grade teacher at Old Center Elementary
  • Melisa Phillips, 4th grade teacher at Crieve Hall Elementary
  • Millie Norwood, 7th grade Math teacher at Oliver Middle
  • Martha Mitchel, Math teacher at McGavock High
  • Melissa Husebo, Music teacher at Andrew Jackson Elementary
  • Tracy Decker, 6th grade Literacy and Social Studies teacher at Bellevue Middle
  • Melissa Brooks, History teacher at Hunters Lane
  • Beth Baker, 7th grade Math teacher at HG Hill Middle
  • Kyle Alexander, Social Studies and History teacher at MLK

Teacher leadership in central office decision-making is essential, according to Beth Baker, teacher at HG Hill Middle Prep.

"I think that TAC will move our district from a 'top down' managerial approach to one with more open, reciprocal conversation among all stakeholders," said Baker. "Teacher voice is crucial in administrative matters because we, the teachers, are implementing the mandates from Central Office. Standing at the front of the classroom gives us a unique perspective that must be considered when making decisions that affect our students’ lives."

Crieve Hall Elementary Teacher Melisa Phillips said the challenges of morale, teacher retention, assessments, teacher evaluations are all topics on the table — the council is a sounding board for all of these issues.

"I’m an optimist always. I have to believe in what I am doing, or I tend to veer another way. I’m thankful that there were people with the foresight to know this council was necessary. All over the system you hear teachers who remark, 'Teaching is not like it used to be.'  In listening to these comments, you hear how diverse those words are — excitement about the many advances that are being made to ensure all of our students are going to be exposed to rigorous, meaningful instruction and opportunities; but at the same time exhausted from the many roles we are asked to fill and hours that these roles ask of us," said Phillips. "We are no longer just teachers, but statisticians, nurses, counsellors, magicians — trying to make the impossible happen in 7.5 hours every day. And then being asked to do even more. I am hoping this council will truly be utilized to address the issues that teachers are struggling with today, and effective change will ensue."