Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
The U.S. Department of Education believes that teachers should have meaningful opportunities to both understand and contribute to 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 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 education 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.
The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program was initiated in 2008. Nearly 100 teachers have participated in the program since, including 27 serving as full-time Washington Fellows in Washington, DC, and 67 as part-time Classroom Fellows, working with the Department from their home communities, in addition to their roles as teachers. In 2013, the Department launched the Principal Ambassador Fellowship as a sister to the TAF program, and eight principals have worked with the Department in similar roles in both full and part-time positions. The Department maintains contacts with Alumni Fellows from across the years as key contacts in the field who can both inform and share Department efforts.
2016-2017 Fellowship Positions
The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship is a year-long paid position. The 2016 positions are anticipated to commence by the end of July 2016 and culminate in July 2017.
Through the Fellowship, teachers and instructional coaches/specialists lend their expertise to the Department by quickly learning a great deal about Federal education policy, programs and processes and then sharing that information with colleagues and key stakeholders across the country through a variety of means. Fellows also share their expertise and experience, along with what they hear through their outreach work, with Department staff in order to improve the understanding, communication and implementation of the Department’s activities. While the specific focus of outreach and internal activities changes yearly based on Administration priorities and current issues in education, the overall goal of the work is to highlight the kinds of supports that teachers and schools need to be able to provide all students with a high quality education that effectively prepares them for their future.
The program offers two separate year-long tracks: the Washington Fellowship is a full-time appointment based at the Department’s Headquarters in Washington, DC, and the Classroom Fellowship enables teachers to participate on a part-time basis for the Department while maintaining their regular school responsibilities in their home communities. In addition to taking on individual tasks subject to their unique background and expertise, all Teaching Ambassador Fellows collaborate with one another as well as with the Principal Ambassador Fellows to address common 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, greatly increase their knowledge and understanding of Federal education policies and programs, and collaborate to provide specific outreach to 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. Fellows share public information with and facilitate conversations amongst educators at the district, State and regional level. They contribute their insights and knowledge about schools and classrooms to the Department, increase their knowledge and understanding of Federal education policies and programs and their critical interplay with State and local policies, and collaborate with other Fellows and Department staff to provide specific outreach to teachers. Over the year, Classroom Fellows gain knowledge of key Department initiatives and work to understand how these intersect with State and local efforts; work with Department staff to gather and share information with constituencies in the region; and periodically 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 or instructional coaches/specialists 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. They gain valuable professional development and experience with Federal education policies, programs and processes to share with their colleagues and school community during and following the Fellowship year.
For the Washington Fellowship program, the IPA is completed with the selected teacher’s employers to clarify that the teacher is on temporary assignment or “loan” to the Department. The Department will pay the salary of the Fellow for the year, but the teacher is still an employee of the district. The Department requests that employers agree to maintain the Fellow’s benefits, potentially with reimbursement from ED, in order to minimize disruption to the teacher. Full-time Fellows may receive a subsistence allowance during their assignment in Washington, DC, 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 part time for ED in addition to their primary work as teachers. Fellowship work is paid for on an hourly basis, for approximately 20-40 hours a month. 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 and the permission of the employer, given his or her 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.