Rodel Teacher Council


Six Teacher Council Members Launch ESSA Principles

Continuing in their tradition of impacting local and national education policy conversations, six members of the Rodel Teacher Council this week released the Every Student Succeeds Act Recommendations and Guiding Principles for Policymakers.

The recommendations are based on the research and policy recommendations in the Blueprint for Personalized Learning in Delaware, and the recently-released policy briefs on personalized learning. The group focused on several opportunities within ESSA for personalized and blended learning to flourish in Delaware.

ESSA is the most recent version of the federal government’s biggest K-12 law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which came into effect in 1965. It governs around $25 billion in federal resources that are allocated to states, including approximately $58 million to Delaware in 2012-13.

Rodel Teacher Council members pointed specifically to areas like professional development, school improvement, assessments, and accountability—areas in which ESSA regulations can have an immediate impact.

“ESSA creates a great opportunity to direct funding and systemic changes into areas of the public school system that would help teachers personalize learning for students,” said Karen Eller, a dual certified elementary education teacher at Stubbs Elementary School. “As a group, we felt strongly that teachers should have a voice in this conversation, and we hope to both share our findings with legislators and help our peers get involved in the conversation.”

Other Rodel Teacher Council members who contributed to the documents include: Tim Brewer (Hodgson Vocational Technical High School), Jessica Inskeep (Freire Charter School), Lori Roe (Cape Henlopen School District), Wendee Bull (Georgetown Middle School), and Jenna Argo (Millsboro Middle School).

The Delaware Department of Education continues to shape the state’s ESSA plan with input from various advisory groups, stakeholders, and community members. A series of community conversations and discussion groups commenced this fall—and a second round of events kicks off this week. Delaware’s final plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in March, 2017.

Round two of the Delaware Department of Education’s ESSA community conversations began this week. To find a community conversation near you, click here.

Rodel Teacher Council Policy Briefs Released!

rodelbrief_student-centered-lsf-1With the 2016 election season officially over, members of the Rodel Teacher Council this week released a series of education policy briefs and recommendations they hope will inform our state’s new and returning elected officials in 2017 and beyond.

The four policy briefs were researched and written by RTC members. They delve into a variety of topics relating to personalized learning—an approach that utilizes technology and other strategies to address students’ individual needs and maximize their strengths. The briefs identify current challenges and barriers in place, and offer recommendations to shift policies and scale personalized learning stateside.

They include:

During the 2016-2017 term, the council will continue its work of scaling personalized learning statewide while removing barriers to personalized learning currently in place. As with previous years, council members will meet with and hear from key education leaders and policymakers, and in the winter, they will host a personalize learning workshop for fellow educators.

Personalized learning puts students at the center of the learning environment. Instruction is tailored to students’ specific academic needs, personal interests, and learning style—while they are enabled to learn at their own time, pace, place, and approach.

In just three years, the Rodel Teacher Council has contributed to the education conversation in Delaware in many ways. The group has met with local and national education experts and policymakers, including legislators, the State Board of Education, the governor, DSEA leadership, PTA leadership, and others. Members represent all three counties, a variety of grade levels and subject areas, and bring a broad cross-section of leadership perspectives. In all, the council members boast over 369 years of combined teaching experience.

They wrote and published the Blueprint for Personalized Learning in Delaware, one of the first examples of teachers developing policy recommendations for personalized learning. Council members regularly  write opinion letters and blog posts for local and national audiences, and serve on statewide working groups and committees to inform and shape the future of education in Delaware.

The 2016-17 Rodel Teacher Council Members are:

Jenna Argo, Millsboro Middle School, Indian River School District
Sherlynn Aurelio, Harry O. Eisenberg Elementary School, Colonial School District
Shani Benson,* South Dover Elementary School, Capital School District
Kate Bowski, Milton Elementary School, Cape Henlopen School District
Tim Brewer,* Hodgson Vocational Technical High School, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District
Wendee Bull, Georgetown Middle School, Indian River School District
Lyndsey Cook, Kent County Community School
Luke Crossan, Alfred G Waters Middle School, Appoquinimink School District
Elizabeth Washam, Freire Charter School
Karen Eller,* Stubbs Elementary School, Christina School District
Joseph Evans, Delcastle Technical High School, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District
Mary Grace Flowers, New Castle Elementary School, Colonial School District
Melissa Grunewald,* Phillip C. Showell Elementary School, Indian River School District
Robyn Howton,* Mount Pleasant High school, Brandywine School District
Jessica Inskeep, Forest Oak Elementary School, Red Clay Consolidated School District
Michele Johnson,* Towne Point Elementary School, Capital School District
Cheryl Jones, First State Montessori Academy
Jared Lelito,* Fred Fifer III Middle School, Caesar Rodney School District
Joyce Lester, Bayard Middle School, Christina School District
Lisa Mims,* Pleasantville Elementary School, Colonial School District
Kimberly Neal, Brandywine High School, Brandywine School District
Lori Nichols, Brandywine Springs School, Red Clay Consolidated School District
Lori Roe, Cape Henlopen School District
Tara Saladyga,* Delcastle Technical High School, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District
Jermaine Williams,* St. Georges Technical High School, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District
Michelle Wilson,* Booker T Washington Elementary School, Capital School District

*- Returning member

Read the members full biographies here.

About The Rodel Teacher Council

The first Rodel Teacher Council was convened by the Rodel Foundation of Delaware in 2013 to elevate the voices of teachers, represent the diversity of the teaching force in Delaware schools, provide a venue for teachers to weigh in on important issues affecting their work, and help set the course for education improvement in Delaware.

The council is a group of teacher leaders dedicated to finding solutions, improving their craft, and leveraging their voices for the benefit of their students.


Blueprint for Personalized Learning in Delaware


In October 2014, the Rodel Teacher Council published the Blueprint for Personalized Learning in Delaware, which identifies state and local policy improvements that would enable personalized learning. The document is one of the first examples of educators developing policy recommendations for personalized learning in the nation. So far, the Blueprint site has garnered over 3,500 page views from all over Delaware and the country, and as far away as Russia and Australia.

Personalized Learning Workshop for Teachers

The Rodel Teacher Council also hosts a workshop on personalized learning for teachers. The workshop is an opportunity for teachers from all across the state to collaborate and learn from each other. In 2015, attendees represented teachers from a cross section of grade levels and schools, with more than 100 educators in attendance sharing best practices, lesson plans, strategies, and tools that tie into the tenets of personalized learning.

From our Alumni:

The Rodel Teacher Council was valuable because it was a chance to have important conversations with teacher colleagues from all different backgrounds, grade levels, and content areas. People might have thought we wouldn’t have a lot in common, but it was a really wonderful way to get out of my classroom and connect with like-minded colleagues and contribute to the larger conversations around education in Delaware.

– Tricia Dallas, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, Richardson Park Learning Center, Red Clay Consolidated School District

I really appreciated the work we did around the capstone projects: the Blueprint for Personalized Learning and the teacher workshop. We have something to look back on and say ‘We did this.’ The whole concept of having teacher input on statewide efforts to improve education was very positive and exciting to me.

– Sharon Hardnett, Secondary Mathematics Teacher, Concord High School, Brandywine School District

My experience with the Rodel Teacher Council was unique because of the opportunities to collaborate with teachers outside of my school on a variety of projects—that was the most valuable element of the program for me. I also really appreciated the opportunities to go on field trips and see things that were happening beyond the walls of my own classroom—this gave me lots of ideas for things I could do with my students and helped me to think outside-the-box about my work.

– Paul Ramirez, Assistant Head of Academics at Freire Charter School Wilmington, and former English Teacher and English Chair at Howard High School of Technology

I really appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers who were so driven and dedicated to improving their craft, as well as the dedication to improving students’ experiences and outcomes. The Rodel Teacher Council was a great professional development opportunity and I highly recommend it to colleagues.

– Kacie Versaci, 8th Grade Math and Upper School Chair, Prestige Academy Charter School

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