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Public School ‘Teacher Leaders’

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From left to right: Santo Nicotera, Eve Rifkin, Carrie Brennan, Brett Goble, and JoAnn Groh.

In 2004, 2005 and in 2014, we five public school, ‘teacher leaders’ opened three new public schools in Tucson (a high school and two middle schools) to serve as small, innovative ‘learning communities’ where best educational practices could be practiced and shared with the wider educational community.  We had 60+ years of public school, teaching experience between us in 2004. We were following the lead of many advocates of public school transformation after the release of A Nation at Risk – especially the work of Ted Sizer.*

*In 1983 A Nation at Risk was released. In 1988 Albert Shanker first proposed the idea of allowing teacher leaders to create innovative learning spaces within the public sector to support public school transformation (read 1988 speech).  In the 1990s Ted Sizer completed his study of secondary public education in America (the Horace trilogy: 1 2 3) and renewed the call for teacher leaders to create powerful innovative spaces as an integral part of nationwide, public school transformation.

We founded these schools on the ‘Ten Common Principles’ of the Coalition of Essential Schools (begun by Ted Sizer) and for the past several years we have never forgotten that we are about serving the larger public school community.  We have worked diligently to both operate City High School and the Paulo Freire Freedom Schools as innovative educational environments and to share our work with other educators.  Now, with the emergence of CITY Center for Collaborative Learning, we have the capacity to create contexts for ‘joint work’ within the greater Tucson educational community and to support the growth of teacher leadership throughout Tucson, Arizona, and the southwestern United States.

To that end…


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  •  In between those two major Tucson community events, CITY Center is sending a team of five teacher leaders to the Teach to Lead summit in Long Beach, California on September 23-24.  Our team was selected from among a host of applications from schools all over the country.  Needless to say we are very excited.

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