Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
Bio/Overview: Tom McKenna is currently the principal of Harborview Elementary School in Juneau, Alaska. He served as a 2013 Teacher Ambassador Fellow, teaching fourth grade at Harborview. As a Classroom Fellow, he aspired to represent students, families, and teachers as well-informed resources in our national dialogue on education. 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.
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 leadership and policy work, where McKenna strives to create opportunities for students and teachers to construct meaning through informed dialogue with peers.
Achievements: McKenna was honored as a British Petroleum Teacher of Excellence in 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. Now as an elementary school principal, he is enjoying the challenge of developing a culture of inquiry among staff and students in a diverse elementary school.
Affiliations: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Association of Elementary School Principals, Middlebury Bread Loaf Teacher Network, National Writing Project, 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.
Education: McKenna eceived his Bachelor of Arts in English from Middlebury College. He holds a Master’s degree in English from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Teacher Leadership Policy
- Digital Literacy
- School-Community Connections
- Professional Networks