Educating future teacher leaders

Mount Holyoke’s Master of Arts in Teaching, Teacher Leadership program has partnered with State Teachers of the Year.

By Tim Patterson

Every teacher is a leader in their classroom. 

But for teachers who aspire to become leaders in their field, the standard path to advancement often requires moving into an administrative position and leaving the classroom behind. Passionate educators who are committed to teaching and ready to take on leadership roles face a tricky challenge: How to lead without leaving the classroom? 

The Master of Arts in Teaching, Teacher Leadership program at Mount Holyoke College offers a compelling path forward, through its close ties with former State Teachers of the Year and a flexible instructional format designed for full-time educators. 

The Teacher Leadership program is a 32-credit Masters of Arts in Teaching degree program housed within the Professional and Graduate Education division at Mount Holyoke.

“Many of the students in our program already have a specialized master’s degree,” said Gwen Bass, director of the Teacher Leadership program. “Our network has helped students to see a whole range of opportunities and leadership roles within their institutions.” 

An emphasis on connections with State Teachers of the Year is at the core of the College’s Teacher Leadership program, which was founded by Megan Allen, a former State Teacher of the Year and a National Teacher of the Year finalist who is now the director of partnerships at the National Network of State Teachers of the Year

In designing Mount Holyoke’s Teacher Leadership program, Allen saw an opportunity to create a master’s program that would enable State Teachers of the Year to mentor and educate future teacher-leaders about the latest educational practices. State Teachers of the Year receive extensive professional development to encourage their leadership capacity as classroom educators.

Mount Holyoke’s Teacher Leadership program involves State Teachers of the Year in multiple ways. Several visiting faculty who teach in the program are former State Teachers of the Year. Other former State Teachers of the Year serve as coaches for students in the Teacher Leadership program, and oversee a required capstone experience through which graduate students have the opportunity to further cultivate their leadership skills by conducting research, pursuing passion projects related to student and teacher development, engaging in innovative curriculum design or seeking national board certification.

The advisory board of the Teacher Leadership program also includes State Teachers of the Year, who share their expertise to ensure that the curriculum remains on the cutting edge of professional development, innovation and best practices.

Mike Flynn, who directs the Masters of Arts in Teaching Mathematics program at Mount Holyoke, pointed to the value of connecting students with a strong cohort of established teacher-leaders. “Here at Mount Holyoke our networks are massive, with great teachers,” said Flynn, who is a former State Teacher of the Year. “We work with teachers who have incredible energy and ideas, and we weave leadership opportunities into our curriculum.” 

Scholarship opportunities provide yet another pathway for State Teachers of the Year to participate in the Teacher Leadership program. 

Each year, when the new cohort of State Teachers of the Year are recognized, Mount Holyoke College presents each awardee with a Distinguished Teacher Leader Scholarship of $10,000 that can be applied to the cost of tuition for the Teacher Leadership Program or the Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics Program. 

Nominees have the option to use the scholarship themselves, or pass it on to another teacher leader whom they choose to nominate. Additionally, any former State Teacher of the Year can nominate teachers for a $5,000 Emerging Teacher Leader Scholarship to either of Mount Holyoke’s programs.