Celebrating Teacher Leaders- Meet Wake County

Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, North Carolina has recently partnered with Discovery Education to employ a system for change called Teacher Leader Corps, a continuous improvement model that puts teachers and teaching at the forefront of the district wide change.  This model of collective and sustained learning will help to build the professional capital of their teachers.

Recently, Wake County hosted a kick-off event for the Teacher Leader Corps to celebrate their commitment to this partnership and the teaching profession. An incredibly talented and passionate group of leaders from the district put in countless hours to plan the day. They paid close attention to every detail and took the time to think through how they wanted to celebrate these teacher leaders. They filled the room with joy and excitement, something I think we need more of in education. It reminds me of a great talk by our very own Dean Shareski at TEDx West Vancouver ED “What Happened To Joy in Education?”  In his talk, Dean says:

“Joy is this wonderful ingredient for community.” 

I couldn’t agree more. When I think about the DEN, I think about the joy this community brings to my life. Every interaction I have had with various DEN members from across the nation have been joyful. I walk away not only learning something new, but also inspired and grateful to be part of this family. Without joy, the community you are looking to build will likely not sustain itself for long, no matter how much time and effort you put into it. In the movie The Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner is told “If you build it, they will come”. I think that’s a little misleading. If you build it, but don’t take the time to build it right, they might show up, but they won’t stay. If you are going to take the time to build a community of leaders, make sure you give them the respect they deserve in building it right. Everything we do here in the DEN, we do to help connect educators to their most valuable resource- each other. We do it with passion and conviction, and we do it with joy in our hearts. It’s been that way since the DEN was formed 8 years ago, and it’s the reason why this community has flourished into what it is today.

Below is a summary of Wake County’s Teacher Leader Corp kick-off event (thank you to DEN STAR Marlo Gaddis for the summary and pictures!). I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Wake County over the past several months and I look forward to introducing these Teacher Leaders to the DEN. What an amazing addition to our community.


What is Teacher Leader Corps?

The Wake County Public Schools Teacher Leader Corps is a three year partnership with Discovery Education to provide quality professional development for teachers to support their transition to a digital learning environment through the framework of best instructional practices. Each of our 170 schools have 2 commitments: purchase of the Streaming Plus content and providing 4 teachers from the school to join the Corps. There are 29 cohorts of teachers (close to 700 teachers in all) who will meet 5 times during the school year for the next three years. During this time, teachers will learn about Discovery Education Streaming Plus and how to integrate the tools and model lessons in their classrooms. Facilitators will focus on creating centers-based learning environments, authentic assessments, and the evaluation of student work. Teachers will serve as leaders in their schools by opening up their classrooms as learning labs and facilitating their peers as they learn together.


Planning a Kickoff:

As a district we felt it was important to get the entire group of Teacher Leaders together and celebrate their commitment to this partnership and the teaching profession.  This was an opportunity for district leaders to set the vision of why the Corps is important to student learning, student growth and building teacher capacity and confidence.

The planning team was made up of eight enthusiastic team members who owned various areas of the planning from facilities to food and registration to entertainment and community building.  Each member had a volunteer team ranging from 10 – 28 other central services staff members who helped to direct, facilitate and celebrate teachers throughout the evening.

Event Excitement and Quotes:







“I just wanted to say WOW!  The event was so well organized and planned out!  I’d have to say one of the BEST district level professional learning that I have EVER attended (in 16+) years of teaching!  Looking forward to a great year!” – Deborah Nunamaker

“This was an awesome event. What a great opportunity to be a part of! Thank you for making us feel like respected and celebrated professionals.” – Maggie Pasnak

“What a great event!  Thanks so much for all of your work in organizing the kick off. As I stood in my Wake County tee shirt, I was so proud to be a part of this great system.” – Teresa Winstead







All photos were taken by Matthew Lenard. 



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