Real Teachers, Real Voices

by Martha Ann Todd

Gov. Nathan Deal convened a Teacher Advisory Committee over the summer of 2016 to provide feedback on the recommendations of the Education Reform Commission. Superintendents, Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) directors, legislators, and educational leaders recommended teachers to be considered for that group, and 90 teachers from across the state were selected to serve on the Advisory Committee. The teachers were outstanding representatives of their profession, providing thoughtful and considered insights and feedback in the areas of teacher recruitment and retention and several other areas.

During their discussions, the teachers remarked that Georgia teachers have an unparalleled opportunity to be positive voices both within schools and within the broader school communities, and that they can take a front-line position in beginning to grow the next generation of Georgia teachers through an authentic, low cost media campaign that allows real teachers to speak in their own voices and provide glimpses into the real world of education and teaching professionals. They wanted to communicate their own stories and the great things happening in their own schools, messaging that the intrinsic joy of working with students and seeing them succeed outweighs challenges experienced along the way.

At the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) we are excited to have taken our direction from Gov. Deal in response to their feedback, and have partnered with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) to launch a series of high-quality public-service announcements (PSAs) that showcase real teachers in their own voices. The governor shared the first PSA during his State-of-the-State address, which certainly signaled the importance of this work to him, and featured Rep. Amy Carter, the only full-time classroom teacher also serving in the House of Representatives, who was Chair of the Teacher Advisory Committee. Watch her PSA, “Purpose.”

GOSA already has launched “High Aspirations,” featuring 2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year Casey Bethel of New Manchester High School, and “Go Teach Others,” featuring 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year Lauren Eckman of the Georgia Academy of the Blind.

At least 20 additional videos, which are in production, will be available over the next few months on a dedicated YouTube channel, and on GOSA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. Each will feature an outstanding Georgia teacher, most of them members of the Teacher Advisory Committee, and will share a positive message about the opportunities to change lives and impact the future that are part of becoming a teaching professional.

We encourage you to join us in sharing these messages through your own social media outlets and your local television stations. And use them whenever appropriate in your professional meetings and presentations.

Please help us spread the word using hashtag #RealTeachersRealVoices!

Martha Ann Todd is executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.