Bottenfield teacher Amber Owens one of 15 Illinois teachers selected for policy fellowship

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 1:16pm

Amber Owens, music teacher at Bottenfield Elementary School, has been named a Fellow with the Teach Plus Illinois Teaching Policy Fellowship, a highly selective teacher leadership program. The program trains current classroom teachers to advocate on behalf of policies that impact their students while continuing to teach full-time. Owens is one of only 15 teachers in Illinois selected for the 2017-18 Fellowship.

As a Teach Plus Fellow, Owens will take a specially designed course in policy and advocacy, learning skills in storytelling, op-ed writing and more to effect change on key education issues with district and state decision makers. She and the other Fellows will choose issues about which they are passionate and collaborate to further their impact.

“The Teach Plus Fellowship is an exciting opportunity to have my voice heard as an educator. I look forward to using my experience in the classroom to help policymakers develop smart policies that work for the students and teachers in our state,” Owens said.

Fellows come from traditional district and public charter schools across Illinois and typically serve in leadership roles. Owens is nationally board certified and teaches K-5th grade music and choir at Bottenfield Elementary. She trains fellow teachers on student learning objectives, serves on evaluation and professional development committees, and is the Champaign Federation of Teachers grievance chair. She also serves as the Illinois Federation of Teachers practicing teacher representative for the Illinois Teacher Leader Network (ITLN) and is a member of the Education Through Music leadership team with the Richards Institute of Education and Research. She holds a BA in music education from the State University of New York at Fredonia and an MA in early childhood education from Capella University.

“Amber has demonstrated exemplary leadership, and we’re honored that she’ll bring her experience from Unit 4 to this group of outstanding teachers,” Superintendent Dr. Susan Zola said. “We’re excited for the skills she’ll learn and the partnerships she’ll form to positively affect students not just in Champaign, but across the state.”

Teach Plus is a national non-profit organization with programs for teachers in 11 states. In Illinois, Teach Plus Fellows have effectively advocated for legislative change, most recently resulting in the passage of education funding reform this year. To learn more about the 2017-18 Teach Plus Policy Fellows, visit 

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