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Hargrove teacher invited into national Master Teacher Project

Lauren Williams Staff Writer

September 2, 2013

With the start of the new school year came some exciting news for a Hargrove Elementary School teacher.


First grade teacher Laura Quellhorst recently found out that she was selected to participate in the Master Teacher Project, an effort on the part of the National Education Association (NEA) and BetterLesson.


Quellhorst, who has been teaching for 13 years, was chosen from a pool of over 300 applicants nationwide and was one of only 96 educators chosen for the project.


“I am a member of NCAE (the North Carolina Association of Educators) which is a part of the NEA. I received an e-mail about the opportunity,” shared Quellhorst of how her interest in the project began. “It is an amazing opportunity to collaborate with educators throughout the country.”


The opportunity is being made possible by a joint effort between the NEA and BetterLesson. Together, the two organizations are spearheading the Master Teacher Project “to arm teachers with the tools and support they need to create a revolution in teacher preparation and development,” said BetterLesson in their announcement of Quellhorst’s selection.


“The NEA Master Teacher Project is the first step. With the Master Teacher Project, we’re bringing the full richness of Master Teachers’ curriculum and practice within reach for every teacher — for free,” BetterLesson added. “The 96 teachers selected to participate in the project will join BetterLesson and the NEA to create a living, breathing body of knowledge around effective teaching that can catalyze professional conversations and be leveraged by new and developing teachers around the country.”


Specifically, “the NEA Master Teacher Project will be working with the best k-5 math and k-12 ELA (English/Language Arts) teachers in the country to document and share what makes them so effective,” continued the BetterLesson announcement, explaining that the chosen teachers “will share both the ‘how’ (instructional strategies and classroom management procedures) and the ‘what’ (complete lessons, units, and courses) behind their successful teaching.”


It’s an opportunity that Quellhorst is grateful to have but was hard to come by. Calling the selection process “difficult,” she shared that “the first part was completing an application and creating a lesson on betterlesson.com. I had to learn how to maneuver the site and post a lesson. From there, I was chosen from over 300 applicants to complete an online interview then was one of 96 chosen.”


“I am thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to work closely with some of the nation’s best teachers and to become an even better teacher,” Quellhorst added. “I am excited to help other teachers move forward with teaching the Common Core standards by providing meaningful resources for them to use.”


In preparation to do just that, Quellhorst has “been going through a lot of training on how to use the site betterlesson.com and learning the expectations my lessons should meet. They allow us a lot of creative freedom.”


With that training under her belt, her part in the Master Teacher Project now includes “creating ELA lessons — one a day for each day of the school year — and posting them on betterlesson.com. I will work with a coach who will review each lesson…I meet with my coach virtually once a week.”


Additionally, “I collaborate with four other first grade teachers who are spread across all time zones. We meet online every two weeks,” added Quellhorst.


“Each lesson includes reflections, resources, and a video component. Our coach makes sure that each lesson is very descriptive. Teachers can use the entire lesson or the parts and resources that fit their needs. All lessons meet Common Core standards and expectations,” Quellhorst explained. “The lessons I create will walk a teacher through the lesson and the thought process as to why each component is important to student learning. The video and pictures that are included in each lesson provide a visual for teachers. This is important because a lot of teachers like to see how it is done, or what it is supposed to look like.”


Although she is creating lessons and resources to be added to a pool for teachers across the nation to utilize and learn from, Quellhorst, who is in the fourth year of teaching at Hargrove, sees her work in the project as a benefit not only to other teachers but also to herself.


“Collaborating with and getting feedback from highly qualified teachers from across the nation will make me a stronger teacher and allow me to provide higher quality instruction to my students for years to come,” she shared. “Participating in the program will benefit my students as I constantly reflect upon my lessons and teaching practices.”


According to BetterLesson, NEA Master Teachers have over 1,245 years of combined experience, hail from 27 different states, and will create and share over 14,000 Common Core-aligned lessons.


For more information about NEA and BetterLesson, visit their websites at www.nea.org and betterlesson.com.


Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at lwilliams@civitasmedia.com.