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Blackburn Teacher Tony Porter Named Teach Plus Mississippi Policy Fellow

September 8, 2023


Teach Plus Mississippi has announced that JPS teacher Tony Porter is a member of the organization’s 2023-2024 Policy Fellows. As a member of the Science of Reading Working Group, Porter will help the team answer how Mississippi can build upon our nationally-recognized reading gains.

He is among 20 demonstrably effective Mississippi teachers selected for Teach Plus’ fifth cohort. Fellows hail from every corner of the state including first-time districts like Pascagoula-Gautier and Lauderdale County. The Fellows will be working to build on the successes of the state’s reading grains and advocating for equitable funding for Mississippi’s schools and meaningful policy change to address teachers and students’ mental health challenges.

“The fifth Mississippi cohort is our most diverse, not just in terms of race and years of experience but also regionally,” said Sanford Johnson, Teach Plus Mississippi Executive Director. “There are school districts in each corner of the state where we now have Policy Fellows for the first time. A key priority for our Fellows is to build on the success of Mississippi’s reading gains and apply the lessons learned to achieve other policy priorities. I couldn’t be more excited to continue to elevate the voices and ideas of teacher leaders who use their classroom experience and policy skills to advocate for their students.”

Porter, an 8th grade ELA teacher at Blackburn Middle School, said: “As a Teach Plus Fellow, I hope to gain an in-depth understanding of policies, the roles and responsibilities of policymakers, and how to contribute to the policymaking process, ideally with cultural diversity driving decision-making.”

Mississippi’s 5th cohort of Policy Fellows includes National Board Certified Teachers, school and district teachers of the year, and even the mayor of a small town in the Delta. The Fellows represent over 15 school districts and charter schools across the state, and over half of the cohort are teachers of color.

These teacher leaders come from vastly different educational backgrounds. Some entered classrooms immediately after earning education degrees, some entered the profession through alternate route programs, while others entered teaching after years of work in other sectors. They represent schools in every region of the state, and they teach a variety of subjects and age levels from early elementary to high school.

Carrie Bartlett, a 2023-24 Mississippi Policy Fellow and 11th-12th grade social studies teacher from Long Beach, said: “As a Teach Plus Fellow this year, I hope to learn from other educators from all over our state, broaden my ability to act as a teacher leader in my community, and make a real impact in a specific education policy area like equity in education funding”

Natoria Kennell-Foster, a 2023-24 Mississippi Policy Fellow and 7th grade English teacher from Oxford, said: “Though I’m just beginning my journey with Teach Plus, I’m already learning so much as an educator in Mississippi. The knowledge I gained in just a weekend has already transformed me and ignited a different level of passion for students and my fellow colleagues—both locally and statewide. This is a value that cannot be measured.”

The 2023-24 Mississippi Policy Fellows are:

  • Hannah Bagwell, Florence Elementary School, Rankin County School District
  • Caroline Bartlett, Long Beach High School, Long Beach School District
  • Danielle Brown, Moorhead Central, Sunflower Co. Consolidated School District
  • Hodricka Burnett, Simmons High School, Hollandale School District
  • Jessica Dalton, Magnolia Park Elementary, Ocean Springs School District
  • Sylvia Green, Edna M. Scott Elementary School, Leland School District
  • Nichole Harris-Rosebud, West Tallahatchie High School, West Tallahatchie School District
  • Rebekah Johnson, Southeast Lauderdale Middle School, Lauderdale Co. School District
  • Beth Jordan, Lake Middle School, Scott Co. School District
  • Natoria Kennell-Foster, Oxford Middle School, Oxford School District
  • Adam Love, Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School
  • Jake Miller, McEvans School, West Bolivar School District
  • Shara Minton, Oxford Middle School, Oxford School District
  • Zahria Morgan, Ambition Prep Charter School, Jackson
  • Kim Murphy, Gautier High School, Pascagoula-Gautier School District
  • Chalette Pettis, Oxford Intermediate School, Oxford School District
  • Tony Porter, Blackburn Middle School, Jackson Public Schools
  • Camilla Potts, Thomas E. Edwards, Sr. High School, Sunflower County Consolidated School District
  • Kolby Reinke, Thomas E. Edwards, Sr. High School, Sunflower County Consolidated School District
  • Hertayshia Thomas, Kirkpatrick Health and Medical Science Magnet School, Clarksdale Municipal School District

The 2023-24 Senior Fellows are:

  • Porshia Ferguson, Ambition Prep Charter School, Jackson
  • Jack Fredericks, West Tallahatchie High School, West Tallahatchie School District
  • Adraine Reed, Gary Road Intermediate School, Hinds County School District
  • Heather Rowland, Cook Elementary School, Columbus School District
  • Kristin Scott, Holmes Central High School, Holmes County School District

About Teach Plus

Teach Plus is dedicated to the mission of empowering excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that advance equity, opportunity, and student success. In pursuing our mission, Teach Plus is guided by our Student Opportunity Mandate: All students should have the opportunity to achieve their potential in an education system defined by its commitment to equity, its responsiveness to individual needs, and its ability to prepare students for postsecondary success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning for students.