Secretary Duncan Announces 13 Teachers Selected for Teaching Ambassador Fellowships

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–August 4, 2009.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that 13 teachers have been selected as Teaching Ambassador Fellows for 2009-2010. Three fellows will become full-time U.S. Department of Education employees for one year. Ten will participate part-time while remaining in their classrooms throughout the school year.

“Enlisting the support of teachers and other educators is crucial to the success of the national movement to reform American education,” said Duncan. “I look forward to working with this year’s fellows as partners as we discuss how to recognize and reward teachers, professional advancement, high standards and other key issues.”

The fellows are participating in a four-day summit beginning today at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in Washington, D.C. This school year, the teachers will engage in education policy discussions, work with Education Department officials in various program offices and participate in a variety of education projects.

Now in its second year, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowships were created to give outstanding teachers leadership opportunities to learn about national education policy and to contribute their expertise to those discussions. The Fellows, in turn, provide outreach and communication about federal initiatives to other educators on behalf of the Department. Through their efforts, the fellows promote educators’ understanding of federal policy and encourage their input to improve education policies at all levels of government.

Nearly 1,400 applications were submitted in an open process in which public school teachers and instructional specialists from across the country were invited to provide essays demonstrating their record of leadership, impact on student achievement and insight into education policy from school and classroom experience. Applications came from teachers in every state, working in rural, urban and suburban communities, teaching every grade and instructional area in traditional and public charter schools.

The following are the three Washington Fellows:

  • Michelle Bissonnette teaches English at Los Altos High School, Los Altos, Calif.

  • Jason Raymond teaches English and journalism at The High School for Law and Public Service, New York, N.Y.

  • José Rodríguez is a bilingual teacher at Knowles Elementary in Leander, Texas

The following are the 10 Classroom Fellows:

  • Adewale Alonge is a science teacher at the Homestead Middle School in Miami, Fla.

  • Xian Barrett, teaches Japanese at Julian High School in Chicago, Ill.

  • John Canter is a reading specialist at Pope High School, Marietta, Ga.

  • Deirdra Grode teaches social studies to K-12 students at the Hoboken Charter School, Hoboken, N.J.

  • Carol Halter-Waider is a math and language arts teacher for K-5th students at Stagebarn-Piedmont Elementary School, Rapid City, S.D.

  • Tamra Jackson is an English teacher at Bridgeport High School, Bridgeport, Wash.

  • Matthew Kostecka teaches social studies at Ballou Senior High School, Washington, D.C.

  • Elaine Romero is an instructional coach for teachers of K-6th students at Wherry Elementary in Albuquerque, N.M.

  • Jasmine Ulmer is a teacher for gifted students in grades 1-4 at Lake Butler Elementary and Middle School, Lake Butler, Fla.

  • Kristine Woleck is a math coordinator for K-5 students at New Cannan School, New Cannan, Conn.

Information on the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship is available at:

Information about the 2009-2010 Teaching Ambassador Fellows is at