LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas State Teachers Association, a nonprofit and nonunion professional association serving thousands of Arkansas educators and school employees, has announced its 2020 cohort of advocacy fellows.

The ASTA Advocacy Fellowship Program was developed with the goal of elevating and empowering the state’s educators to influence policy through advocacy and education. The 2020 class of 20 advocacy fellows was selected from a statewide pool of distinguished applicants encompassing classroom educators, professors, and administrators serving students in traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, and universities.

The following educators will participate in a year-long fellowship engaging in activities and actions throughout the 2020-2021 school year to advocate for policies and issues that directly impact their students and educational communities:

John Allison, Vilonia High School, Math Teacher

Leslie Battles, Cooper Elementary – Bentonville, Classroom Teacher, Team Lead

Jeff Davidson, Forrest City Junior High, Classroom Teacher

Melanie Duclan, Batesville Junior High School, Classroom Teacher

Felicia Goings, Forest Heights STEM Academy, 5th Grade Teacher

Olivia Hansen, Cabot Middle School North, 6th Grade Math and Science Teacher

Kimberly Harlan, eStem Public Charter Schools, District Testing/Federal Programs Coordinator

Teri Harrah, Forest Heights STEM Academy, Social Studies Teacher

Sam Kelley, Westside High School – Jonesboro, Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair

Nancy Lively, Rogers High School, Classroom Teacher

Rebecca McGee, Reed Elementary School – Dumas, 5th Grade Math/Science Teacher

Kathleen Moe, Willowbrook Elementary – Bentonville, Art Educator

Tanner Oglesby, Bryant High School, Choral Director

Karon Parrish, Crossroads Learning Center – Rogers, School Counselor

La Warn Rodgers, North Little Rock High School, Dean of Students

Jessica Saum, Stagecoach Elementary School – Cabot, K-4 Special Education Teacher

Cody Strahan, Ramay Junior High School – Fayetteville, Engineering/Robotics Teacher

Melissa Ward, Fox Meadow School of Creative Media – Nettleton, Literacy Resource Teacher

Brycial Williams, Wynne Primary School, First-Grade Teacher

“This incredible group of professionals represents a diverse cross-section of today’s education professionals,” noted ASTA Executive Director Dr. Michele Linch. “In the wake of the pandemic, one of the primary concerns we heard from ASTA members was that their input and voice was not sufficiently sought or valued as decisions that directly impacted their schools and students were made. We knew then that we had to formalize our member advocacy efforts. They have already begun the important work of researching, writing opinion pieces, and preparing for the upcoming 2021 legislative session.”

Modeled after ASTA’s national affiliate’s Association of American Educator’s fellowship program, AAE Fellowship alumna and Little Rock School District teacher Lydia Dillon noted, “This fellowship is the most important and valuable program that AAE offers.” The goal is for the ASTA fellowship program to become a vital asset to educators and policy makers as it elevates the educator’s voice in Arkansas.

The ASTA Advocacy Fellowship is available to ASTA professional members statewide. Application consideration for the next cohort will open in 2021.

The Arkansas State Teachers Association is the state chapter of the Association of American Educators, the largest national, nonunion, professional educator organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to educator empowerment and advocacy – promoting professionalism, collaboration, and excellence without a partisan agenda. ASTA-AAE is committed to a teaching profession that is student oriented, well respected, and personally fulfilling. AAE serves members in all fifty states and welcomes professionals from all education entities. Membership is $16.50 per month which includes $2 million professional liability insurance, employment rights coverage, professional resources, and many other benefits. Classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, student teachers, university professors, support staff, and supporters can learn more at astapro.org.

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