Three UCS teachers selected for national leadership initiative

Three Utica Community Schools teachers are among 150 national educators selected to participate in the national Teacher Leadership Initiative, a program to develop a new generation of leaders within the teaching profession.

Stevenson High School English teacher Annette Christiansen, Eisenhower High School social studies teacher Derek D'Angelo , and Burr Elementary sixth-grade teacher Melissa Gronzo have been chosen for the pilot year of the Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI).

Through the initiative, participants will engage with an interactive curriculum designed and facilitated by other expert teachers through on-line collaboration and personal mentoring.

Once teacher leaders have been prepared, the initiative will mobilize their leadership to help advance student learning, strengthen the teaching profession, and provide vision and direction.  In addition, the partners will develop systems to support their on-going professional growth.

“UCS teachers are well-respected leaders in their field,” Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns said. “This initiative allows our teachers to further drive innovation and learning in not only UCS classrooms, but in schools throughout the nation.”

The TLI is a joint endeavor of the National Education Association (NEA), the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (National Board). 

“I am proud that members of the Utica Education Association are being selected to participate in this exciting initiative,” said Liza Parkinson, UEA President.  “UEA teachers have long been at the forefront of improving education and having our members selected for TLI will only strengthen this tradition of excellence.”


The long-term goals of the TLI are: 1) define the foundational competencies of teacher leadership; 2) develop relevant experiences to help teachers cultivate those competencies; and 3) activate teachers to be leaders for their profession as a result of their participation in this process.

“The National Board is proud to partner with NEA and CTQ on the Teacher Leadership Initiative,” said Ron Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board. “It is our strong belief that positive change in education must be driven by the profession and shaped by the invaluable experience of teachers working in classrooms. The TLI initiative marks an important milestone in our collective effort to elevate the profession.”

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