Sarah Giddings, Michigan Educator Voice Fellow
State and City of Residence:
Michigan - Ypsilanti
Job Description (grade level taught, position, title, etc.):
Teacher Leader & Curriculum Coordinator at a countywide consortium alternative teacher-powered high school for at-risk students. HS hybrid role. SS & ELA all level courses along with the Big History Project
What brought you to work in education?
I have a strong family background in education. I grew up helping my mom in her preschool & kindergarten classes. My twin sister and I both became teachers, and I married a man who is a math teacher! I thought I would jump right to being a policy work or administration. However it was my mom who brought me down to reality by saying that if I was going to advocate for people in the trenches, I needed to serve in the trenches first. I haven't left the trenches yet! I love working with the most needy students to help them discover strategies for success and empowering teachers to lead.
Tell us about something that you have done in education (either alone or working with a group) that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community? (What was the problem you were addressing, and what were the outcomes? What do you see that is changing?)
I have done a lot of work to advocate for current teacher involvement in both policy decisions and connecting to preservice educators. Presently, I am working on a project with a local university to bring current teacher leaders to work with preservice teachers on how to connect using social media. We now see a greater connection between current and preservice teachers and steps towards a deeper support system using social media tools. I also worked to add teacher leadership mechanisms to our state's ESSA plan and I hope to see our legislature fund these opportunities.
What’s your favorite part about being an America Achieves Fellow?
I love the professional network that I am so blessed to be a part of. When I first became a Fellow, I realized that all the talented individuals made up such an impactful whole that I knew I had found my educator tribe. I love it when I want to talk educator policy that I can jump on a social media network and usually a Fellow is the first to comment. When I need support for a project, there are always Fellows around to help. I loved my experience so much that I recommended both my husband and twin to join in the next year (and they did!)
If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
I would ensure ongoing involvement of teachers in the state education policy decisions and the implementation of policies that affect schools, teachers, and students. Teachers are making changes that are positively affecting students, but too many of these changes are happening in isolation and are not sustainable without funding their creativity!
If a song played every time you walked into a room, what would that song be?
I Would Walk (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
What is your other favorite thing to do (besides education, or course!)?
Being with my two beautiful girls, my husband, and my identical twin and her family!
Sarah Giddings is a National Board Certified teacher, advisor, and curriculum coordinator for the WAVE Program—a Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium alternative countywide high school she helped develop and is a part of the instructional leadership team. Sarah is a Hope Street Group National Teaching Fellow, an America Achieves Fellow, and a national TeachStrong Ambassador. She has trained and presented to educators, policymakers, and community members from the local level to the USDOE and national level on a multitude of passions including teacher leadership, public education innovations, education policy, assessment literacy, social-emotional learning, and being a connected educator.
Sarah has written and blogged for Big History Project, National Board, Teach to Lead, and the Michigan Department of Education. Sarah also was an organizer of the inaugural ECET2MI education conference. She spent several years as a teacher-leader at Al Raby High School in Chicago, designing a cutting-edge GIS curriculum. Sarah graduated with a master's in K-12 Education Administration, and holds a professional certificate in Ed Technology, a B.A. in social relations and English minor, all from Michigan State University.