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CIRCLE Launches Teacher Leadership Task Force

These educators are learning together, supporting each other, and strengthening the implementation of Educating for American Democracy.

CIRCLE has convened, launched and is leading a Task Force on Teacher Leadership (TLTF) to support educators’ ability to learn about and implement the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap (EAD). The EAD Roadmap is a transformative initiative that started in 2019 with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education, involving scholars, educators, and stakeholders from diverse perspectives and backgrounds. One of those leaders is Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, the Newhouse Director of CIRCLE, who was a principal investigator in the initiative and authored the EAD Roadmap’s pedagogical companion. These documents, published in March 2021, kicked off an implementation phase in which Task Forces develop and implement strategies to bring high-quality social studies education to all students.

The Teacher Leadership Task Force is supported by a grant from the Bezos Family Foundation. Its mission is to promote mastery of the EAD Roadmap and Pedagogy principles among classroom educators; to develop leadership and self-advocacy capacity among teachers who are the lead implementers of EAD in local communities; and to increase teachers’ knowledge and skills to communicate and partner effectively with families, students, and local stakeholders.

The Teacher Leadership Taskforce (TLTF) is led by four co-chairs who are practicing educators: Shannon Salter (Lehigh County, PA), Mary Ellen Daneels (DuPage County, IL), Shakeba Shields (Orange County, FL), and Serge Danielson-Francois (Oakland County, MI). Together, they help coordinate, mentor, and foster co-learning with a diverse group of teachers from across the country.  CIRCLE, which is part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, was one of the lead institutions in the creation of the EAD Report and serves as the institutional home for the Task Force, which includes members from diverse regions of the United States.

Learn more about the Task Force leads below:

Mary Ellen DaneelsMary Ellen Daneels

Mary Ellen Daneels is a National Board Certified teacher who taught at West Chicago Community High School for 27 years. She serves as the Director of the Illinois Civics Hub and Illinois Democracy School Network, leading efforts to support the implementation of the middle and high school civics course requirements and Illinois social science standards. She has been recognized as the Law-related Educator of the Year from the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago, Teacher of the Year by the 19th District of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Civic Education Teacher from the Center for Civic Education and the Illinois Education Association Teacher of the Year. Mary Ellen has presented on the proven practices of civic learning throughout the nation. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and highlighted in numerous publications such as Education Week, Social Education, and Educational Leadership. Mary Ellen has advocated for civic education before federal and state lawmakers. She served on the Board of Directors for the National Council for the Social Studies and worked on both the Steering Committee and Pedagogy Committee for the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap.

Serge Danielson-FrancoisSerge Danielson-Francois

Serge Danielson-Francois teaches World Humanities, AP US History, AP US Gov, and AP Art History at Academy of the Sacred Heart. He is an avid country music fan and takes every opportunity to relate a lesson to a song. He is always in the process of recruiting debaters for the Academy of the Sacred Heart and enjoys arguing with his students every class. He models civility in disagreement. He is an inveterate Madisonian unwilling to sacrifice the common good for any illusory or expedient factional gain. He is convinced that the most important thing that he teaches is proper confidence: students should know what they know and be eager to fill in the gaps for all that remains unknown. He has been teaching for as long as he has been married, 30 joyous years and counting.

Shannon SalterShannon Salter

Shannon Salter is in her 12th year teaching high school social studies. Certified in secondary social studies, ELA, and communications, she currently has taught 12th grade US Government, AP US Government, Yearbook, and a Criminal Justice elective, while serving as the social studies department lead. She currently serves as her high school’s Partnership Coordinator, where she is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with a wide range of community stakeholders (local, statewide, and national) to support real-world learning opportunities for students. Shannon’s passion is creating opportunities for students to use the skills of civic action to take their learning in all subjects out of the classroom to make an impact on their community. In 2015 Salter was invited to become a founding teacher of Building 21 High School in Allentown, PA, where learning is built around competencies (skills), cross-curricular instruction, and project-based investigative learning. Shannon’s work in civic education and in the development of cross-curricular learning activities (specifically blending environmental science and civics) have led to work under a National Science Foundation grant, published research in Social Education and The Science Teacher, and speaking engagements at National Geographic, the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference, and at several professional development sessions for teachers. Shannon is a member of the iCivics Educator Network, the National Geographic Educator Advisory Panel, the National Constitution Center Teacher Advisory Council, and currently serves on the governing consortium of Educating for American Democracy, where she also is co-founder and co-chair of the Teacher Leadership Task Force.

Shakeba ShieldsShakeba Shields

A native of Jamaica, Shakeba moved to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where she earned a B.S. in Social Science Education and a M.A. in TESOL. She obtained a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership & Urban Education from Nova Southeastern University, where she researched the “Impact of Alternative Schools on Subsequent Student Behavior.” Shakeba has been an educator for eighteen years throughout Seminole and Orange County. After 12 years on the high school level, she joined the Orange County Public School’s Transformation Office to support fragile middle schools by building teacher capacity, curriculum development, and assessment item writing. Shakeba’s innovative approach to building student’s engagement and love for civics is called “Making Social Studies Social.” This is done through the facilitation of learning experiences and civil dialogue. Her work has earned her several awards, the most recent of which was Phi Delta Kappa’s “Gift of Teaching Award” for excellence in coaching teacher growth and student achievement. In addition to her “full-time” job, Shakeba is involved in the community and has helped with several local political campaigns. She has also completed the Guardians of Democracy program and is a current member of the Racial Equity in K12 Civics group. Shakeba is a wife and mom of two boys and an active member of the Hope Church. A servant at heart, Shakeba has served the community through her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and by participating in ten mission trips to Haiti, Namibia, and India. She loves to read and is currently loving "The Light We Carry" by Michelle Obama. Her other interests include planning family events, walking, listening to contemporary christian music, spending time with loved ones and "trying" to keep the house clean.