North Carolina Teachers Join Policymakers to Improve Education for Students

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


“Focusing on the impact that teachers have daily on the education and the lives of the students of North Carolina will create a group of teachers that are not only invested in their school and their students, but also in the state as a whole.”

These words were spoken by Bridget Wortman, a First Grade teacher in Pender County. Wortman welcomes the start of this school year as her 16th year teaching, but her first as a member of the Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network.

Hope Street Group is a nonpartisan organization that is working with the North Carolina Department of Instruction, the North Carolina State Board of Education, the North Carolina Association of Educators, and other organizations concerned with student success. This collaborative framework serves to provide a group of diverse public school teachers, who are chosen through a rigorous selection process, with skills around peer and community engagement, tools to facilitate focus groups, and communication strategies while giving them opportunities to amplify teacher voice to inform policy decisions. Hope Street Group launched the program with great success in Kentucky in 2013, replicating it in Hawai’i in 2014 and now in Tennessee and North Carolina.

“It’s important for us in the Department to listen to the voice of teachers,” said Dr. June Atkinson, North Carolina State Superintendent. “While we have difficulty in hearing the voices of 96,000 teachers, if we have representative teachers, such as we do with Hope Street Group, then we can get feedback that is meaningful to us.”

The work of the first cohorts of Hope Street Group Fellows in Kentucky and Hawai’i has led to their growth as teacher leaders. In addition to providing recommendations to their respective Departments of Education, they have met with legislators and hosted school visits, and have independently written op-eds and essays that have been published in news outlets across the nation. The way these Fellows have contributed to the ongoing decisions around education policy was a major reason Jennifer Rosser, a Fifth Grade New Hanover teacher, decided to apply to join the program. Rosser has been a model mathematics educator featured on NBC Nightly News and the New York Times in addition to being voted 2015 Teacher of the Year for New Hanover County.

“Teacher engagement translates to inviting individuals who care deeply about the cause, who have knowledge of how the system works, and who have field tested solutions in that system, to take on an active role and voice in the decision-making process,” Rosser reflected. “When viewed in that light, it is difficult to imagine teacher engagement having anything but the most positive effect on improving our current system of education.”

Rosser, one of the 29 teachers inducted into the the Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network this year, belongs to a burgeoning teacher leadership movement within North Carolina. The Network is building relationships with other organizations such as the Public School Forum of NC and the Professional Educators of North Carolina that cultivate teacher leaders to strengthen the profession and better serve students. This movement is evident up to the federal level, where the U.S. Department of Education has emphasized empowering teachers to improve the education process through its Teach to Lead program, a partnership with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

“Teachers are one of the most important resources in creating sound education policy,” Katharine Correll, North Carolina Teacher Voice Network Director stated. “Equipping the Network to listen to feedback and communicate back how it is acted upon not only improves decision-making, but demonstrates to educators that we value their expertise as professionals.”

North Carolina educators can contribute their voice to this year’s meaningful policy action by finding the 2015 Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network member in their region here.

The 29 teachers selected to be North Carolina’s first State Teacher Voice Network Members are:

  1. Akinyi Edmonds, Business Education Teacher, Raleigh
  2. Amanda Wallace, High School English Teacher, Vilas
  3. Angela (Angie) Scioli, Social Studies Teacher, Raleigh
  4. Barry Richard Barber, Academic Coach, Asheboro
  5. Brian Randall, 5th and 6th Grade Science Teacher, Asheville
  6. Bridget Wortman, 1st Grade Teacher, Hampstead
  7. Bryan Christopher, English, Creative Writing and Journalism Teacher, Durham
  8. Christie Murphy, AP Government, US History, Civics and Economics Teacher, Guilford
  9. Courtney Sears, 2nd Grade Teacher, Chapel Hill
  10. Debra Rook, ELA Instructional Coach, Hertford
  11. Elliot Lunsford, Math Teacher, Arden
  12. Guy Hill, English Teacher, Coats
  13. Hilary Marshall, 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher, Charlotte-Mecklenburg
  14. James (Jim) Brooks, English, Latin, Journalism, and Creative Writing Teacher, North Wilkesboro
  15. Jennifer Rosser, 5th Grade Teacher, Wilmington
  16. John deVille, US History and Philosophy Teacher, Franklin
  17. Joni Allison, Secondary Instructional Coach, Hendersonville
  18. Kayonna (Kay) Pitchford, Instructional Coach, Fayetteville
  19. Kelly Norton Pipes, High School Honors Biology & Junior Seminar Teacher, Wilkesboro
  20. Lucas Pasley, English Teacher and Department Chair, Sparta
  21. Mamie Hall, English Teacher, Durham
  22. Melissa Faetz, First Grade Teacher, Franklin
  23. Melody McGarrahan, K-5th Grade Music Education Specialist, Asheville
  24. Myra Creech, 5th Grade English Language Arts Teacher, Delco
  25. Pamela Fitzpatrick, Literacy Coach, Chapel Hill
  26. Rene Lemons, Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher, Wilmington
  27. Stacey Mrazek, Blended Learning Coach, Claremont
  28. Trey Ferguson, High School Math Teacher, Raleigh
  29. Yvonne de St. Croix, Academically and Intellectually Gifted Specialist, Beaufort


Hope Street Group is a national organization that works to ensure every American will have access to tools and options leading to economic opportunity and prosperity. For more information, visit:


Press Contact:
Chimdi Ihezie
Associate, External Affairs

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