Stevenson teacher Cassie Reding named national finalist in education competition

Posted on July 3, 2016 5:24 PM

Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future (NCTAF) has announced 12 finalist teams in its Agents for Learning challenge, a nationwide call to action designed to engage educator teams in advocating for the best use of federal funding for professional learning under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Stevenson Elementary School language arts teacher Cassie Reding is one of only two Kentucky educators on a finalist team.

The 12 teams — representing 56 teachers, administrators, and learning leaders from 12 different states — proposed plans that described a comprehensive vision for effective professional learning for their states, identified needs that exist and strategies to address them, and outlined roles and responsibilities for states, districts, and individual educators to achieve their visions. In addition, the plans discussed how educators would advise states and districts to use Title II funding to address critical needs of teachers and directly impact student learning outcomes.

The finalists will travel to Chicago July 21-22, where each team will present its plan to a panel of judges and a moderator:

Virginia Edwards, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Education Week (moderator);

Stephanie Banchero, Program Director for the Education Program, Joyce Foundation;

Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year;

Chris Minnich, Executive Director, CCSSO;

Rachel Wise, Chair, Nebraska Board of Education, NASBE.

"We're so grateful to all of the educators who participated in the challenge. We were proud to offer an opportunity to amplify teachers' voices in advocating for the professional learning that will make a difference for educators and students," said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward.

"States tell us they are looking for ways to capture stakeholder input, and the creative and bold ideas in the applications show how much these engaged educators have to offer as we enter the implementation phase of ESSA. I can't wait to learn more from them during our time in Chicago," continued Hirsh.

Earlier this year, the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English Board selected Reding as the KCTE Elementary Teacher of the Year, according to Superintendent Leon Smith.  Each year, KCTE recognizes teachers from elementary, middle, high school and college levels who excel in their duties as teachers, who mentor students, and who demonstrate teacher-leadership in their buildings, districts and beyond. Also this year, she was honored for achieving National Board Certification.

A native of Todd County, Cassie’s husband, Conrad Reding, also teaches at SES. Additionally she has been serving an assistant girls basketball coach at Russellville High School.

Both Superintendent Leon Smith and Stevenson Principal Lisa White have circulated congratulatory statements regarding her latest achievement.

Before presenting their plans at the Chicago conference, teams will have time to engage in learning and coaching to refine their plans and build skills in advocating with policymakers. Learning Forward and NCTAF will webcast the presentations and disseminate the finalists' plans on the Learning Forward website to serve as models for educators around the country. Prizes and recognitions will be awarded to finalists by sponsors of the challenge.

As states and districts work to develop comprehensive plans to implement ESSA, Learning Forward and NCTAF believe it is critical that teachers' expertise, experiences, and input are heard.

"As one of our finalist teams noted, 'teachers are an untapped resource to reform professional development,' and through this challenge we are incorporating the expertise of our nation's educators into the broader policy conversation," said Melinda George, president of NCTAF. "The plans submitted by these teachers make it crystal clear that great teaching for all students will only happen when teacher voice is included at every level – school, district, state and national. Including their insight into what works for students, themselves and their colleagues makes the difference in successfully transforming teaching and learning."

Visit Agents for Learning for more information on the challenge. For team member names, school affiliations, and city/state of school, see the chart below.

Reding is the second member listed on the team from the South. Joining her are the other Kentuckian, Carly Baldwin of Boyd County High School in Ashland; Trey Ferguson of Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, N.C.; and two Tennesseans, Natalie Coleman of Gallatin Shafer Middle School and Debbie Hickerson of Carson Lane Academy in Murfreesboro.


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