Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
Bio/Overview: Tom McKenna became inspired to teach when he saw the unique role of schools in rural Alaska communities. In schools that are often the center of public life, educators teach multiple subjects and grades, and interact with families and communities constantly. McKenna earned his initial teaching credential through a program at the University of Alaska designed to instill culturally responsive teaching practices in rural teachers. He went on to teach English and fisheries at Unalaska, in the Aleutian Islands. During this period, he earned a Master of Arts in English from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Over the course of more than two decades in the profession, McKenna has taught in rural and urban Alaska, as well as in Barcelona, Spain. He has served on the education faculty of the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, Alaska, where he currently teaches fourth grade at Harborview Elementary School.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Early in his career, McKenna discovered the power of technology to connect his students with other learners across cultural and geographic boundaries. As he and his students participated in cross-cultural collaborations with other classrooms, teachers, and scholars, McKenna studied and wrote about their experiences with colleagues in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. McKenna would go on to direct technology for the Bread Loaf School of English, where he currently serves as Director of Communications for the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. These experiences informed his current teaching and policy work, where McKenna strives to create opportunities for students and teachers to construct meaning through informed dialogue with peers.
Achievements: McKenna was recently honored as a British Petroleum Teacher of Excellence (2012). He received the Beth Cubeta Memorial Scholarship and the Charles J. Orr Memorial Scholarship for academic excellence in his graduate study at the Bread Loaf School of English. As an undergraduate at Middlebury College, McKenna earned Magna cum Laude, with High Honors, and Phi Beta Kappa distinction.
Leadership Experience: Through his work directing technology and communications at Bread Loaf, as well as participation in national leadership teams for the National Writing Project, McKenna developed an abiding passion for teacher networks and teacher leadership. He has directed the Alaska State Writing Consortium, and has helped to design and implement job-embedded professional development projects for teachers across multiple disciplines and involving multiple professional associations. Recently, he completed his administrative credential work, and serves on several school leadership teams.
Affiliations: Bread Loaf Teacher Network, National Writing Project/Alaska State Writing Consortium, National Council of Teachers of English, International Society for Technology in Education/Alaska Society for Technology in Education, National Science Teachers’ Association, National Education Association.
- B.A. English, Middlebury College
- Teaching Credentials: Alaska 7-12 Language Arts, K-8
- Administrative Credential: Alaska K-12 Principal
- M.A. English, Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
Areas of Interest/Expertise: McKenna is interested in policy work in the areas of professional networks and teacher leadership, digital literacies, and school-community connections. As a Classroom Fellow, he aspires to represent students, families, and teachers as well-informed resources in our national dialogue on education.