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Michelle Bissonnette
2009 Alumni Washington Fellow
Lost Altos, CA


Photo of Michelle Bissonnette, Washington Fellow

Bio/Overview: As a high school English teacher at Los Altos High School (in the heart of the Silicon Valley), a former child care program director with the YMCA, credentialed in K-12, a summer school principal, and bridge program director, Bissonnette is experienced in education from the most critical first years of school through the challenging preparation for college years. In her pursuit of continuing education, Bissonnette elected to wait until she had practical experience in the classroom to pursue her Master’s degree, which turned out to be a wise decision.  After seven years of teaching, Bissonnette knew that any program of study that she would undertake would have to be focused on developing her leadership as a more culturally and racially conscious educator.  Bissonnette had witnessed the challenges that students of color face daily and knew there was more she needed to do to address the inequities that are still present in public education.  As a result, she selected the Urban High School Leadership Program at San Jose State University as it is truly a cutting edge program that partners collaborative action research and building equity-centered anti-racist educational leadership as its fundamental focus. After her year as a Washington DC fellow, Bissonnette stayed on with the Department as a special assistant in the Office of the Secretary working on teacher quality with Jo Anderson, Jr., senior adviser to Secretary Duncan, before returning to Los Altos to teach Language Arts.

Educational Values/Philosophy: The cornerstone of Bissonnette’s educational leadership has always been, and will always be, the belief that students come first and teaching should be positive, empowering and enthusiastic.  The classroom should be a safe place for exploring unanswered questions, testing hypotheses about subject matter, and for developing character as an ethical and responsible citizen of our global community. 

Achievements: Bissonnette was recently nominated for the Silicon Valley Heroes in the Classroom Award.

Leadership Experience: Bissonnette had the rare opportunity to be a consultant on a national research evaluation effort, the Bill and Melinda Gates Network and High School District Reform Initiative.  She also worked with the National Evaluation of Writing Professional Development Project with SRI International.  This work has provided her with the opportunity to learn how to evaluate and assess student work and teacher expectations through an objective and data driven methodology.  At the forefront of her work has been the focus on helping support state and local leaders develop the critical relationships necessary to move education reform in a collaborative manner.  Bissonnette has traveled the country and spoken with educators and union leaders, new teachers and veteran teachers, administrators and education support personnel who are working together to broker meaningful and lasting education reforms that help both students and teachers excel.

Affiliations: National Education Association, California Teachers Association, Accomplished California Teachers

Education: Bissonnette received her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from the University of California, Sacramento.  She went on to earn her teaching credentials (single subject in English and multiple subject) from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. Nine years later, Bissonnette earned her Master’s of Education and preliminary administrative credential from San Jose State University.

Areas of Interest/Expertise:

  • Teacher quality: Prep, development, evaluation
  • Equity in suburban education
  • Teacher unions
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Last Modified: 08/16/2012