Master of Public Policy students complete summer practicum experiences in a range of education policy-related organizations. Learn more below about our students practicum experiences from this past summer.
Eryn Block was a fellow through the Southern Education Leadership Initiative (SELI) by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF). Her placement site for the fellowship was a child policy and advocacy organization called Voices For Georgia's Children in Atlanta, Georgia. Eryn took part in several policy-related projects including writing a white paper regarding opportunities and challenges for expanding school mental health in Georgia, creating fact sheets about after-school programs and school-based health centers and developing a poster for a presentation regarding after-school quality standards. At the end of the summer, she presented her research about school mental health to the full cohort of SELI fellows and SEF leadership.
Erin Conley helped with the Tennessee Standards Review process by working closely with the State Board office in Nashville and the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta to compile data collected from an online public survey and develop a variety of reports to present this data. After creating these reports, she reviewed the data with committees of educators and education professionals in the first Standards Review committee meeting on June 4th, 2015 in Nashville, where these individuals then worked to rewrite Tennessee K-12 standards.
Shawn Donovan was a legal intern for the Tennessee School Boards Association (Nashville, TN) and an Education Pioneers Fellow with the Tennessee Department of Education (Nashville, TN). As a legal intern he audited the policy manuals of school districts across Tennessee for compliance with federal and state law. As a Education Pioneers Fellow, he helped implement the Department's graduation rate cohort review process.
Gwen Fishel interned at Convergence Center for Policy Resolution which brings together diverse stakeholders to work on sustainable policy solutions and enact change. She was directly involved with the Education Reimagined Initiative, which will go public this fall after almost two years of consensus building among stakeholders to create a vision for education in the 21st century. Gwen participated in stakeholder alignment processes, stakeholder communications, and strategic planning, and helped to build infrastructure for sharing the vision in the fall.
Lila Goldstein worked on a variety of projects for the Tennessee Department of Education including streamlining communications for the Accountability team, developing surveys and other metrics of educator preparation program per-formance for the Teachers and Leaders division, and conducting a program evaluation for the Research and Policy division. This evaluation was around the effects on student learning and teacher practice of reading professional development courses funded by the department and conducted by partnerships between the Centers of Regional Excellence and Sopris Learning.
Matt Holt worked in Nashville as an Operations Intern for the KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary School Leadership Team (which included the School Leader, Assistant School Leader, Dean of Operations, and Dean of Student Supports). Matt lent essential support to the launch of KIPP’s first elementary school in Nashville, which is occurring through the transformation of an existing traditional MNPS public school, Kirkpatrick Enhanced Option School. Matt’s duties included management of summer enrollments and family home visits; student data management; facilitation of large-scale volunteer and community engagement events; relationship-building in the surrounding community; and general ad hoc administrative support.
Erika Leicht worked with the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), a nonprofit, non-partisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to supporting academic growth and college and career readiness for students in Tennessee. As a research and policy fellow at SCORE, Erika travelled around the state to hold focus groups with teachers, principals, and central office staff. Using this educator input as a starting point, she drafted portions of SCORE’s 2015-16 State of Education in Tennessee report, which will be released in January. This report provides an overview of the progress Tennessee has made in K-12 education in the past year and highlights priority areas for the coming year.
Erin Milligan-Mattes worked in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), which is the state education agency (SEA) of Washington, D.C. It was formed after mayoral takeover of the city’s public schools and was tasked with raising the quality of education for all students. As an Education Pioneers Fellow, Erin served on a 4-person planning team to create a three- to five-year strategic plan to help transform the organization into a high functioning SEA. She specifically worked on a project to help OSSE identify a strategy to raise high school graduation rates in D.C.
Sydney Prescott worked this summer as an Urban Leaders Fellow in Nashville. In the mornings, she researched best practices in Pre-K for Metro Nashville Public Schools Early Childhood Education Division. In the afternoons, she worked with other fellows to develop policy recommendations for a school board member and other MNPS officials. The program also included professional development sessions, opportunities to explore career interests, and team bonding experiences.
Jordan Simpson was a summer data analyst with the Tennessee Department of Education. She prepared daily and weekly reports summarizing and analyzing survey responses in order to support ongoing teacher trainings conducted throughout the state. She also presented PowerPoints during weekly team debriefs designed to inform strategic adjustments to content, logistics, and personnel.
Andy Smith worked with the Partnership for Children & Youth, a non-profit intermediary organization that operates to ensure that school-age children and youth living in low-income communities have the support and opportunities they need and deserve to be successful in school and life. As an Education Pioneers Fellow, Andy designed and analyzed a survey of California’s After School Education and Safety (ASES) programs to gain a more accurate understanding of the true cost of high quality ASES programs. This data was used to a) advocate for a higher daily rate needed to support quality programming, and b) inform best practices by funders, districts and program sites statewide.
Kinsey Walker worked as a "Leadership is Educational Equity" fellow on the first charter school in the state of Mississippi, Reimagine Prep. Reimagine Prep is a branch of Republic Schools that began in Nashville, TN. Their mission is to give their students the education and character foundation to prepare them to be admitted to the college of their choice. Reimagine Prep was the first accepted charter application in the state of Mississippi, and Kinsey's experience was very unique in the ability to experience school choice for the first time with the students, families, and community of Jackson.
Molly Weiner participated in the Urban Leaders Fellowship in Denver, Colorado. She spent half of her time working in State Senator Mike Johnston's office, doing leadership development and working on a policy project concerning state education governance structures. Molly spent the other half of her time working at Stand for Children, researching policy issues for their upcoming legislative agenda.
Cora Wigger worked with Jefferson County Public Schools, developing presentations and one-pagers summarizing recent district research as well as proposals for new projects. The bulk of her work centered around conducting an evaluation of the district's current school culture survey for reliability and validity, then combining findings into recommendations for improvement and guidance for the use of results for school principals, leaders, and district officials.
Bonnie Williamson was the summer graduate fellow at NCTQ and worked on its Teacher Preparation Team. She assisted with research and analysis for the 2016 Teacher Prep Review, which included researching and writing a brief on how family engagement is taught to teacher candidates in prep programs. Bonnie also completed small analysis projects on internal methodology for assessing state and program standards.