Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2014 Classroom Fellow
Bio/Overview: Maddie Fennell is a 2013 Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow serving in an official hybrid role in 2014 as the Teacher Lead for the Department’s Teach to Lead initiative. At the same time, Fennell serves as the Literacy Coach at Miller Park Elementary School, an inner city school in Omaha, Nebraska. In this role she is responsible for working with students in need of assistance, modeling and supporting effective instruction, and coordinating staff development. During her 25 year teaching career with the Omaha Public Schools, Fennell has taught first, fourth and sixth grades, as well as serving as President of the Omaha Education Association.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Fennell’s teaching philosophy is based on WIT – Whatever It Takes. With each new class come new challenges and opportunities. Teachers must be flexible and adapt, growing in the knowledge, skills and attitudes it takes to meet the needs of each individual learner. Fennell believes that connecting with parents and helping them develop their skills as part of a student success team is crucial for student growth beyond the limited time she has a student in her classroom. “Once Ms. Fennell’s child, always Ms. Fennell’s child” means that parents and students can call on her at any time. Fennell has a dual passion for teaching and for transforming the profession. She believes that transformation will begin when teachers claim their authority to set and maintain high quality standards of effectiveness and develop systems that ensure the integrity and continued growth of the profession. Educators must redefine accountability as accepting the trust the public has in America’s teachers and embracing our collective and individual responsibility for student learning and well-being. Fennell lives her belief that we need to make our practice public - open our doors, step into the corridors, and share responsibility for all our students, including the most challenging. She challenges her colleagues to be the change agents of educational reform by leading from the most powerful position – as an effective classroom teacher!
Achievements: Fennell chaired the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching which issued Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning in December of 2011. She has made presentations across the country (including the 2012 International Summit on the Teaching Profession), has been a guest blogger in Education Week, and was interviewed by NBC News Anchorman Brian Williams for Education Nation. Recently, Fennell has enjoyed several turns as a guest blogger for Rick Hess’ Straight Up blog. Fennell was named the Nebraska Teacher of the Year in 2007, has been honored with the Carol Stowe Humanitarian Award from the National Education Association Student Program, and the Ike Friedman Teacher Leadership Award from the Knights of Aksarben (a Nebraska philanthropic organization).
Leadership Experience: Upon graduation from Creighton University, Fennell was elected Chairperson of the National Education Association Student Program, serving for two years as an advocate for students preparing to become teachers. Her advocacy has continued throughout her teaching career as she has served in a myriad of service and leadership roles in the profession and her community. She has traveled across the country presenting on numerous topics including classroom management, building relationships with parents and the community, instructional improvement and, most recently, the need for a wholesale transformation of the teaching profession. Fennell models her belief in leading from the classroom by maintaining her role as a master teacher in a high needs building while simultaneously working to improve teaching and learning through leadership at the local, state and national level.
Affiliations: Omaha Education Association, Nebraska State Education Association, National Education Association, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Convergence Center for Policy Resolution K-12 Project.
Education: Fennell holds a Bachelor’s degree from Creighton University, a Master‘s Degree and a Certificate of Urban Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and an endorsement in assessment from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Transformation of the Education Profession
- Teacher Leadership
- Evaluation Reform; Peer Assistance and Review
- Professional Development
- Parental and Community Outreach