May 19, 2008 14:35 ET

Minnesota Teacher of the Year Points to Leadership

National, State Teachers of the Year Share Insights on Teacher Leadership

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - May 19, 2008) - A panel of State Teachers of the Year and the National Teacher of the Year 2007 gathered recently for a special forum at Educational Testing Service (ETS) to discuss the role of teacher leadership in the classroom and beyond. 2006 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Lee-Ann Stephens was among a select group of teachers invited to share views on effective teacher leadership.

Hosted by ETS and held at its Princeton campus, the program was facilitated by Jon Quam, Director, National Teacher of the Year Program for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The panel showcased the unique teacher leadership experiences of six teachers of the year from California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the 2007 national teacher of the year, Andrea Peterson from Washington State.

ETS President and CEO Kurt Landgraf began the program by highlighting teachers as an important component of the building blocks of society, emphasizing the need to promote teaching as "a noble profession" -- a cause, he said, ETS is "deeply committed to advancing."

Stephens, who is credited with innovative immersion practices at the St. Louis Park Spanish Immersion School, said, "A teacher leader is someone who sees a void and fills it. Sees a need for change and affects it."

The teacher leadership panel included Barnett Berry, President, Center for Teaching Quality; state Teachers of the Year Marguerite Izzo, N.Y. 2007; John Kline, N.J. 2008; Andrea Peterson, National Teacher of the Year 2007 and Washington State Teacher of the Year, Lewis Chappelear, Calif. 2008; David Woten, Pa. 2008; and Stephens.

Although the panelists described a variety of school settings, developmental levels, and individual leadership styles, it was clear that the teachers of the year shared a common passion and enthusiasm to making a difference in the lives of children, according to Jon Quam.

"As teacher leaders our primary focus is kids. And every day, it is teachers like those here today that are looking after the needs of children," said Quam. "The interests of children need to be at the forefront of everything we do. That's why it is so important that an organization like ETS listens to teachers. I am pleased and enthused by ETS's commitment to providing a format in which great teachers can be heard."

Berry echoed Quam's sentiment and made a point to highlight the specific components that make a great teacher leader. Berry, who anchored the panel, described a three-point definition of a teacher leader: 1. Advances student learning; 2. Spreads and shares expertise; 3. Resists conventional wisdom and the status quo.

"These teachers of the year are exceptional examples of teacher leaders," Berry said. "It is precisely these kinds of teachers that organizations like ETS, with their resources and influence, need to support so that they are heard, understood and embraced."

The teacher panelists agreed that teachers need to be supported by administrators, parents, and colleagues and that it is essential that young teachers are nurtured and mentored by experienced teachers with attention and rigor. They shared a belief that teacher salaries must be commensurate with the profession's importance and impact on the lives of young people. And all concurred with Landgraf's sentiment that teaching must be promoted as a noble and desirable profession.

"The key, essentially, is affecting the lives of children," explained National Teacher of the Year, Andrea Peterson. "Ultimately it's about serving communities with grace and love."

About ETS

ETS is a nonprofit institution with the mission to advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research, and related service for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions, and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. Founded in 1947, ETS today develops, administers, and scores more than 50 million tests annually, in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. Additional information is available at

Contact Information

  • ETS Contact:
    Mark McNutt
    (609) 683-2058