RALEIGH, NC (August 30, 2017) – The Public School Forum of North Carolina’s  Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) that currently works with early-career teachers in Wake, Mecklenburg and Union Counties is expanding to three new counties this school year. Cabarrus, Carteret and Onslow are the newest addition to a program that began as a pilot in Wake County in 2015 and expanded in 2016 to Union and Mecklenburg Counties thanks to support from the Biogen Foundation, Belk Foundation, ChildTrust Foundation and the John M. Belk Endowment.

The BTLN, led by James E. Ford, Public School Forum Program Director and former NC Teacher of the Year, takes a three-pronged approach to teacher leadership by focusing on the areas of education policy and advocacy, cross-curricular collaboration, and professional development.

  • Education Policy and Advocacy: Teachers participating in the network will gain a baseline understanding of key education policy issues and strategies for engaging in policy debates.
  • Cross-Curricular Collaboration: Through collaboration, teachers will enhance their understanding of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and their specific disciplines.
  • Professional Development: Teachers will strengthen knowledge, develop skills, and learn strategies to improve classroom instruction and student learning.

“Our program offers early-career teachers the chance to continue their development as classroom instructors, while learning how education policy is developed and helping them engage as teacher-leaders in the process,” said Ford. “I know from my own experience as a beginning teacher, I was hungry both for ways to improve my own skills as a teacher and to network and learn from other teachers. At the same time, I saw so many factors in the policy arena affecting my job as a teacher where our voices were often missing.”

The focus on policy is unique among programs in North Carolina for beginning teachers. “We weave policy into the BTLN because we believe better education policy happens when classroom teachers are involved and engaged, sharing their real-world perspectives on how policy decisions made at all levels impact student learning,” Ford said.

Sessions are held on a monthly basis during after-school hours at a central location in each county. Additionally, teachers form networks using digital tools and social media for greater growth. Each session covers topics chosen by teachers and provides strategies, policy discussions, or guest speakers to address a full range of interest areas. The year culminates with a Legislative Day in Raleigh and graduation event involving statewide participants, speakers and special guests. This year the BTLN is also launching a special STEM track with support from the Biogen Foundation to promote cross-curricular STEM education among beginning teachers. By bringing together educational practice and policy, the BTLN aims to produce teachers that are “empowered to lead and informed to change” in a new era of teaching.

The Public School Forum is now accepting applications to participate in the BTLN for all six counties. There is no cost for teachers to participate and the program is open to any teacher in their first three years in the classroom. Interested teachers should visit https://www.ncforum.org/beginning-teacher-leadership-network/ to learn more and to sign up.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina leads the BTLN in line with its long, rich history of developing and leading programs that enable and empower teachers and education leaders, including the NC Teaching Fellows Program, the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), the Institute for Educational Policymakers, and the NC Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP).

About the Public School Forum of North Carolina

Since 1986, the Public School Forum of North Carolina has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of better schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow us on Twitter @theNCForum and visit our website at http://www.ncforum.org/

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