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The power of solutions-oriented partnerships: The key to success for Hope Street Group Fellows

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction is partnering with an independent nonprofit, Hope Street Group, to bring its collaborative teacher led engagement work across the state. This work will compliment efforts underway to connect teachers to policy and policy to implementation.  Thirty one teachers from across North Carolina have been selected for the first cohort of the Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network.  First launched in Kentucky, the Hope Street Group program has successfully impacted the way educators inform policy and implementation. Brian Bishop, former Kentucky State Teacher Fellows Director and now National Director for State Teacher Fellowship Programs, discusses the successful work led by Fellows in KY and what we can look forward to in North Carolina from the Teacher Voice Network.  Click here to learn more about how our program works.  

To launch the Kentucky State Teacher Fellows (STF) Program, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), Hope Street Group (HSG), the Kentucky Educators Association (KEA), and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence agreed upon a partnership to act on teacher voice around critical topics the KDE needed to take action on, initially focusing on highly sensitive areas of Kentucky’s statewide teacher evaluation system.   As this partnership matured at the state level, the Fellows were able to impact individual teacher growth at the grassroots level.

In the initial press release by Terry Holliday, the Commissioner of Education for Kentucky, signaled the importance of the work of the HSG fellows:

“We share a common commitment – to engage teachers at every level. The Hope Street Group’s work in Kentucky will support and reinforce our strategic work around educator effectiveness,” he said. “More effective teaching means improved student outcomes ensuring that all of our students graduate from high school college/career-ready.”

In the first cohort of state fellows, 21 teachers worked within their expansive Professional Learning Networks to gather both survey and focus group data to inform the Department on critical pieces of the state wide teacher evaluation sytem.  KEA supported the work of the STFs through their strong networks and offered their statewide facilities for STFs to hold focus group meetings.

Working in concert with one another, Hope Street Group fellows and colleagues from across the partner organizations came together in a solutions oriented, non-partisan way to transform a culture of teacher isolation, divorced from education policy creation, to one of teachers actively engaged in the process of shaping education policy.

The program was independently evaluated to identify what resonated best with teachers, partners and decisionmakers as well as to identify where the program could improve to drive even deeper impact. This part of the transparent nature of this program was well received:

“KEA applauds the Hope Street Group’s self-examination and desire to become even better at helping promote teacher participation in the issues facing public schools today.”

Kentucky is now moving into its third year of the program and has 26 fellows from across the State.  The maturation of the HSG program and the personal success of our STFs are built on three pillars:

1) a strong partnership with our statewide partner organizations,

2)  fellows dedicated to expanding the role of teacher voice to design, influence and shape education policy and implementation, and

3) engagement of thousands of teachers from across Kentucky who are willing and able to create the change necessary to professionalize the teaching profession.

The North Carolina Teacher Voice Network Fellows have been selected and are set to positively inform decisions made by education policymakers by providing feedback from colleagues to North Carolina decisionmakers that represents the collective and diverse opinions of classroom practitioners throughout the state.  By collaborating with partner organizations, engaging peers to learn more about state education policy and sharing their own stories related to policy implementations, North Carolina Teacher Voice Fellows will accelerate a movement of constructive teacher-led conversations around policy solutions that bring the most benefit to the students and teachers of North Carolina.  The Program launches on July 22nd in Greensboro as the Fellows convene in person for the first time. 

We look forward to sharing the stories, thoughts, and solutions developed by the Fellows with the audience and hearing your feedback on their progress.

Introducing the North Carolina Teacher Voice Network


Brian Bishop

Brian Bishop is the national director of all the state programs for the Hope Street Group. He was the state director in Kentucky.