FLORENCE – If there’s one thing Lisa Stooksberry is passionate about, it’s getting teachers heard on the national level.
Having done her undergraduate work in education at the University of North Alabama, Stooksberry returned “home” to UNA this week, as well as to Kilby Laboratory School on Friday to meet with teachers and some students seeking their education degrees.
She was honored Saturday during UNA homecoming festivities as the school’s “Educator of the Year” through the alumni association.
Stooksberry knows a thing or two about education policy and national testing. She works for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, playing a major role in setting policy in relation to assessments and schools.
After touring Kilby School, where she once interned, she met with teachers and prospective students to get their ideas, as well as to dispense advice on affecting education policy at the state and national levels.
“Approaching policymakers can be a tricky thing,” Stooksberry told the group. “I mean how do you even gain access to them?”
“For starters you can invite your local policymakers, your legislators, in to see what you’re doing and how you’re affecting students. You may even bring them into a student-led conference, where they see, through students, what you’ve been doing.”
Kilby Principal Chris James said the process of getting politicians/policymakers on board with making positive changes in education is more about electing the right people.
“You have to get the right people elected to office and to put aside any personal agenda,” he said. “Once they get around the table and hear those ideas, they’re more likely to buy in and then change can happen.”
Stooksberry had some simple advice for the teachers.
“A big part of the profession is ensuring that you train others in the practice of the profession,” she said.
Stooksbury then asked teachers if they believe they have opportunities at Kilby that other schools can’t offer.
Kindergarten teacher Marissa Frederick said one of the biggest advantages of being a part of the Kilby faculty is the partnership opportunities with some of the brightest educational minds in the state in the UNA College of Education.
“We regularly partner with UNA faculty on projects, and that provides wonderful opportunities for our students here at Kilby, as well as the UNA education students,” she said.
Kilby’s Media Center Director Shelly Hellums added, “We’re the only laboratory school in our state and that’s big.”
Stooksberry agreed, saying UNA played an instrumental role in her believing in herself and her abilities as an educator.
“It enabled me to engage with the experts in education and likewise enlighten other people,” she said. “I’d encourage you teachers to find places to shout about what you do everyday. Share so the country knows that it’s in very good hands.”