Teach Kentucky Alumni Lead at the State Level
Teach Kentucky’s impact is growing as alumni like Melissa Shearon and Deloreon Burton move into leadership positions. As members of KDE’s Education Recovery Team, these two TKY alumni support other teachers and administrators in JCPS schools that need support.
Teach Kentucky alumni, Melissa Shearon (2009 cohort) and Deloreon Burton (2011 cohort) currently serve as the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Educational Recovery Team at Maupin Elementary and Foster Traditional Academy. These two Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) elementary schools that have been identified by the state for Comprehensive Support Intervention (CSI), which is the new designation given to schools performing in the lowest 5% of the state, based on K-PREP data and other factors.
Prior to serving on the KDE turnaround team, both Melissa and Deloreon served in leadership positions within JCPS. Deloreon left his position this year as Assistant Principal at JCPS’s Kennedy Montessori Elementary to take the role. Melissa left her position as Goal Clarity Coach at Westport Middle School to join the turnaround work at KDE in 2016. Melissa has served as Education Recovery Specialist at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
Deloreon describes his current role as pushing him to be “comfortable with ambiguity and with the unknown.” While he may not always have the solution or answer to the complex problems within a school organization, he does enjoy working through possible outcomes with his partner Melissa and each school’s administration. Melissa adds that in addition to collaborating with building administrators on how to improve school systems, she also enjoys working closely with classroom teachers and offering them support in the area of literacy instruction.
The administrators and teachers with whom Melissa and Deloreon collaborate work daily with some of the district’s neediest students and have direct influence on whether those students succeed or fail in our JCPS public schools. The pair show that Teach Kentucky’s full impact is difficult to quantify as alumni impact grows beyond individual classrooms. As more TKY alumni rise to leadership positions, the benefits of recruiting talent to teach in JCPS and surrounding districts multiplies exponentially.
Both former teachers attribute Teach Kentucky with supporting their professional growth in leadership. Melissa shares that other TKY alumni (Paul Barnwell, Sarah Yost, Kate Grindon) provided professional encouragement and mentoring for her throughout her ten-year career. She writes, “Teach Kentucky surrounded me with a network of people in the Louisville community who believed in the mission of our program. I was given a mentor, Laura Frankrone, who ensured I always had what I needed, even if that was a bowl of soup when I was sick. Professionally, I always had someone to guide me if I needed help.”
Likewise, Deloreon credits TKY with “giving [him his] start and supporting [him] every step of the way.” He cites TKY founder and president Rowan Claypool as providing the encouragement and mentoring for fostering his decision to pursue a career in education leadership, rather than enroll in law school. He says, “Rowan was really influential in allowing me to see that education can be something more than a pitstop—that education itself can be a fulfilling career.” He adds, “TKY is so much more than recruiting teachers to Louisville, because the network links people together throughout the city and allows for professional collaboration in various areas; it’s something magical.”
Both Melissa and Deloreon plan to continue working and leading in education in Louisville as their careers progress. Deloreon hopes to be “in a greater role to influence more students” though he does not want to limit his opportunities and hem himself in to any one specific path. Melissa plans to continue to work and lead in JCPS and shares that she is “passionate about instructional leadership and aims to continue supporting teachers in classrooms.” Such support will continue to spread the impact of Teach Kentucky and reach those students whose needs demand that they learn from highly effective teachers like Melissa, Deloreon and those teachers they now support.