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September 24, 2018

Introducing the 2018-19 NIET Educator Advisory Board Members

Educators and leaders to share strategies for school improvement in high-need communities

Santa Monica, CA—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) has announced that 11 educators and district leaders will serve on its Educator Advisory Board for the 2018-19 year. Hailing from Arizona to Tennessee, they have a solid track record of placing educators at the center of school improvement efforts to benefit teachers and students alike.

Members will contribute their on-the-ground expertise working in high-need schools to help NIET advance its mission of improving educator effectiveness through policy, research and service. In NIET's work spanning K-12 to higher education, these partner leaders will:

  1. Offer insights on NIET’s strategies for teacher recruitment, development and retention.
  2. Lend their experiences in strengthening principal leadership.
  3. Share their lessons in supporting high-need schools to significantly increase student academic achievement.
Texas Master Teacher and new Educator Advisory Board Member Amber Simpson in the classroom.

"Hearing direct experiences from our partner educators is essential to our daily work," said NIET Co-President and Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Patrice Pujol. "Our educator advisory board members not only give us a window into the classrooms we serve, but many are also teachers in those classrooms. They know their student populations well and how to tailor strategies to reach them. We benefit enormously from their leadership, and welcome them to our table as we look forward to another successful school year."

"Effective teaching leads to improved student outcomes," said new board member Shelia Banks, a teacher leader from Orleans Parish, Louisiana. "By supporting teachers, we ensure that schools are doing what it takes to improve student achievement and improve teacher practice."

"Our entire district has grown tremendously in the area of teaching and learning by creating an underlying framework for professional development and leadership," added Phoenix-area superintendent Betsy Hargrove, who is entering her second term on the board. "The collaboration and empowerment of all staff through these structures are strong factors in our district’s success. As a result of our efforts, we have outpaced the achievement growth in our state for three consecutive years."

For two decades, NIET has been a leading authority on how to use investments in educators to drive school improvement, particularly in high-need communities. The public nonprofit works with schools, districts, states and universities on developing teacher leadership and career paths; instructional frameworks and rubrics to help teachers improve their practice; on-site and virtual training and coaching by expert educators; human capital management systems; and structures and protocols for leadership and professional learning.

The 2018-19 NIET Educator Advisory Board members are:

Shelia Banks

Shelia Banks*

District Executive Master Teacher
Orleans Parish School Board

Cade Brumley

Cade Brumley

Jefferson Parish Public School System

Vicki Carpenter

Vickie Carpenter

Assistant Superintendent
Perry Township Schools

Kevin George

Kevin George*

St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools

Betsy Hargrove

Betsy Hargrove

Avondale Elementary School District 

Pat Lewis

Pat Lewis

Deputy Superintendent of Innovation and School Improvement
Grand Prairie Independent School District

Lori Line

Lori Line*

West Goshen Elementary School

Alex Patterson

Alex Patterson*

Mentor Teacher
Dodson Branch School

Mindy Searcy

Mindy Searcy

District Executive Master Teacher
Cross County School District

Amber Simpson

Amber Simpson*

Master Teacher
Barrera Veterans Elementary School


Amy Whittington

Amy Whittington*       

PK-6 Principal
Central Decatur Community School District

*Designates new member.

NIET is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit that pursues a mission to advance educator effectiveness. Equipped with a diverse staff of educators, researchers, and policy experts, the organization impacts more than 250,000 teachers and 2.5 million students nationwide. Learn more at


Media Contact:
Jana Rausch
Communications Director
(310) 570-4774 (office)
(310) 435-9259 (cell)