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New Fellowship Encourages Teachers To Get Involved With Ed Policy


Teachers can often feel left out of important policy decisions that greatly impact their day-to-day work in the classroom. A new fellowship aims to change that.

The initiative is a partnership between Hope Street Group, an advocacy organization, and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.


26 teacher fellows across Utah have been chosen to spend the year getting involved in policy decisions both local and statewide.


“The first year is just letting people know that we’re here and that we want to be involved," says Tabitha Pacheco who is heading up the new Utah fellowship program.


Pacheco is a former teacher who previously worked with the Hope Street Group nationally, which involved trips to Washington D.C. and meetings with the Department of Education. But she says they’ve recently adjusted their approach based on better success at the state level.


“It was much more impactful to have a state fellowship and have 25 teachers from a state working together and meeting with state boards or district boards," Pacheco says.


Part of the fellowship will mean simply showing up to policy meetings and being a part of the conversation. But the fellows also have a focus for the year. They’re advocating for more leadership opportunities and giving teachers more of a say in how their schools operate.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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