Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
The U.S. Department of Education believes that teachers should have meaningful opportunities to both contribute to and understand the policies that impact their students and school communities. In order to implement needed reforms, all stakeholders must understand the intent of policy and be engaged in the outcomes. The Department also understands that when families, students, and teachers want information about education, it is most often to teachers that they turn.
The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship supports the Department’s mission by employing a cadre of outstanding teachers to contribute their classroom expertise to the national dialogue and in turn facilitate discussions with educators across the country. For the Fellows, the program adds greater knowledge of educational policy and leadership to their toolkits to contribute to solutions at all levels for long intractable challenges in education.
Fellows spend a year gaining greater knowledge of the content of key federal programs and policies, in addition to the context and process by which they are designed and implemented. Fellows share their expertise with federal staff members; provide outreach and communication about federal initiatives to other educators on behalf of the Department; and facilitate the involvement and understanding of teachers in developing and implementing these efforts at the federal, state and local levels, to improve the likelihood of their success.
The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program was initiated in 2008. Since then, eighty-seven teachers have participated in the program, including twenty five who have served as full-time Washington Fellows and sixty-two who have served as part-time Classroom Fellows, working with the Department in addition to their roles as teachers. Additionally in 2013, the Department piloted a Principal Ambassador Fellowship and selected three principals in full and part-time positions. In 2015-2016, the U.S. Department of Education is recruiting up to three (3) Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellows and up to six (6) Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellows to join these alumni for the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program. We anticipate the positions will commence by August 2015 and continue through July 2016.
The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program offers two separate year-long paid positions: the Washington Fellowship is a full-time appointment based at the Department’s Headquarters in Washington and the Classroom Fellowship enables teachers to participate on a part-time basis for the Department, in addition to their regular school responsibilities. All Teaching Ambassador Fellows work together with one another and in collaboration with the Principal Ambassador Fellows to address common goals in addition to taking on individual leadership responsibilities within the team and meeting individual goals.
In the Washington Fellowship, selected teachers serve as full-time federal employees in Washington, DC for one school year. Fellows are placed in offices within the Department of Education to work on education programs and policy matters. They contribute valuable school and classroom level knowledge and perspective to the Department, collaborate to provide specific outreach to other teachers, and greatly increase their knowledge and understanding of federal education policies and programs in order to share with other teachers. Over the year, Washington Fellows gain in-depth knowledge of Department initiatives; provide their perspectives to senior staff; share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences; and facilitate discussion among educators about policy in DC and in areas around the country as necessary.
In the Classroom Fellowship, selected teachers serve as paid, part-time federal employees, in addition to their chief work as teachers for one school year, primarily by sharing public information with other teachers and facilitating conversation amongst educators at the district, state and regional level. They contribute their insights and knowledge about schools and classrooms to the Department, collaborate with other Fellows and Regional Office staff to provide specific outreach to teachers, and increase their knowledge and understanding of federal education policies and programs and their critical interplay with state and local policies. Over the year, Classroom Fellows gain knowledge of key Department initiatives and understand how these intersect with state and local efforts; work with Department staff to gather and share information with constituencies in the region; and are asked periodically to share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences.
Intergovernmental Personnel Act Agreements
Teaching Ambassador Fellows are hired for the year under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act mobility program. The IPA mobility program provides for the temporary assignment of skilled personnel to or from state and local governments and certain other organizations to facilitate cooperation between the Federal government and the non-Federal entity and provide mutual benefits, for limited periods without loss of employee rights and benefits.
All Teaching Ambassador Fellows are classroom teachers on loan from their school or district to the Department through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Authority. Fellows are paid to assist the Department at ED’s expense and gain valuable professional development and experience with federal materials and information to share with their colleagues and school community.
For the Washington Fellowship program, the IPA is completed with the selected teacher’s employers to clarify that the Department will pay the salary of the Fellow for the year, but the teacher is still an employee of the district on temporary assignment or loan to the Department. The Department requests that the employers agree to maintain the Fellow’s benefits, potentially with reimbursement from ED, in order to minimize disruption to the teacher. Full-Time Fellows candidates may receive a subsistence allowance during their assignment in Washington, D.C., though relocation expenses will not be paid. This position will involve some travel. All travel and related expenses are covered by the Department.
Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellows gain approval from their employers to work for ED on a part-time basis, paid on an hourly basis for approximately 20-40 hours a month, in addition to their primary work as teachers around the country. While much of the work may occur in after school hours and on weekends, some outreach and team planning requires flexibility of scheduling. All travel or Fellowship activities taking place during regular school hours are subject to the availability of the Fellow given their primary school duties and responsibilities.
Further information about the IPA program is available on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website at: http://www.opm.gov/programs/ipa/assignF.asp.