Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2010 Alumni Washington Fellow
Los Angeles, CA & Charlotte, NC
Bio/Overview: Raphael is a School Redesign Administrator at the Browne Middle School in Chelsea, MA. Over the last ten years, Leah Raphael has worked as an after-school program coordinator, instructional specialist, and middle grades language arts and social studies teacher. Compelled to work in schools close to where she grew up, Raphael wanted to facilitate the type of caring, reflective learning environment that she often longed for as a young person attending urban public schools. Though Raphael spent many of her years as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, she came to the Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellowship in 2010 after teaching eighth grade language arts in Charlotte, North Carolina. During her year in Washington, DC, Raphael worked closely with the Secretary’s Senior Advisor on College Access, and found that many of her students’ academic and personal experiences lent relevant insight to Department efforts around improving graduation rates in high poverty communities. As a Fellow, Raphael was also involved with the work of several Race to the Top states around strengthening the teaching profession. Raphael’s passion for supporting and elevating the work of teachers continues to define her professional aspirations.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Raphael views her work as closely connected to helping our world become a more equitable, socially just place. Much of her commitment to urban schools comes from her own firsthand experiences as a student in Los Angeles, and from working as a young volunteer in her mother’s kindergarten classrooms. Raphael believes in nurturing deep connections between students and their schooling, through strong relationships and community-based inquiry. Along with her commitment to youth voice and empowerment through education, Raphael has also become increasingly convinced that transformational change in schools is deeply tied to re-envisioning opportunities for teacher growth and leadership.
Achievements: Raphael was provided the opportunity to study in UCLA’s Teacher Education Program through a UCLA Graduate Opportunity Fellowship and the Philip & Aida Siff Educational Foundation Graduate Fellowship. She also completed a prestigious AmeriCorps Fellowship with the University of San Francisco based on her leadership ability and commitment to excellence in education. Most recently, Raphael was awarded an Urban Scholars Fellowship through Harvard University, which allowed her to pursue additional full-time graduate studies in Harvard’s School Leadership Program.Leadership Experience: As a teacher, Raphael sought out opportunities to impact school policy and organization, including serving as an academic leadership team facilitator, school decision-making committee representative, and grade level chair. After completing a master’s thesis at UCLA around the impact of “Council” circles on student achievement, Raphael facilitated a partnership between her small learning community and the Council in Schools program, which led to school-wide Council implementation at John Liechty Middle School in Los Angeles. Raphael continues to serve as a carrier of circles and recently served as a facilitator at the 2012 Restorative Justice Practices conference at Harvard.
Affiliations: UCLA Center X, UCLA History-Geography Project, National Writing Project, Council in Schools, AmeriCorps, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Inner-City Arts, the Coalition for Restorative Justice at Harvard.
Education: Raphael received her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies in 2002 from Wesleyan University, where she also completed a semester abroad in the Pitzer in Ecuador program. She went on to earn a Master’s in Education from University of California, Los Angeles and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She holds teaching credentials in elementary education and secondary language arts, as well as principal licensure.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Re-envisioning the teaching profession
- Middle grades reform
- Instructional leadership
- Teacher-led inquiry cycles
- School culture
- Parent and community engagement