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HEBRON ESTATES - Freedom Elementary School Teacher Michelle Rynbrandt Hendricks has been selected to the initial cohort of Kentucky Fellows by Hope Street Group, a national nonprofit organization known for its teacher engagement work.
“I’m thrilled,” Hendricks said. “I think this is an exciting time to be involved in education in Kentucky; we’re at a point where a lot of things are changing.”
She is part of 21 educators from 20 school districts chosen from a large pool of highly competitive candidates.
Selected for their strong individual commitments to improving learning outcomes for children, the Hope Street Group Kentucky Teacher Fellows will serve as leaders over the next 12 months and will help voice teacher opinions from across the state on reform efforts.
Hendricks is interested in the development of curriculum and instructional practices, as well as finding ways to effectively share relevant information to empower educators.
Director of Elementary Education for Bullitt County Public Schools Terry Price praised Hendricks and applauded her opportunity.
“Mrs. Hendricks is an outstanding teacher and will be a great contributor to the efforts of the Hope Street Group,” he said. “Michelle will be a voice for teachers across the commonwealth to improve teacher efficacy as well as to further improve educational opportunities as a whole.”
Hendricks agreed and affirmed that faculty members share a unique viewpoint about education matters.
“I’m happy to be a voice for teachers and to share the classroom perspective as we move forward toward a better educational system,” she said.
Minogue said Hendricks is a great teacher and deserves to be a Kentucky Fellow.
“I am extremely proud of Michelle and her dedication to education,” she said. “She is motivated to learn and grow professionally to support quality instruction and improve student achievement in the classroom. She will be an asset to the Hope Street Group and represent Bullitt County Teachers in a positive manner.”
Hendricks learned about the Kentucky Fellow program from an email dispatched by Kentucky Commissioner of Education Dr. Terry Holliday. The message detailed some of the changes and initiatives that were going to be happening in the state.
She submitted an application and participated in an interview. Freedom Principal Marcella Minogue wrote a letter of recommendation for her.
“Today’s announcement of the Kentucky Hope Street Group Teacher Fellows is a tremendous step toward our common commitment to engaging teachers at every level,” Holliday said. “This collaborative program will support and reinforce our strategic work around educator effectiveness with the ultimate goal of ensuring all Kentucky students graduate from high school college/career-ready.”
By engaging school communities, informing state policy discussions and participating in professional development and training opportunities, the fellows will work toward elevating the teaching profession and enhancing the quality of primary and secondary classroom education.
Kentucky Education Association’s Executive Director Mary Ann Blankenship supports this work stating that, “Engaging teachers in the elevation of their profession is core to our work at the Kentucky Education Association. We look forward to continuing our collaborative partnership with Hope Street Group and the Kentucky Teacher Fellows as this program provides additional teacher voice at the decision making table.”
Hendricks is looking forward to sharing her thoughts with fellow ‘Fellows’.
“I believe that as a group, educators are their own greatest asset,” she said. “We are a powerful force, an abundance of knowledge, and a formidable collection of experts. I know that sharing that wealth of resources and information that individual teachers hold is key to improving the complex craft of teaching, and to our state’s educational progress. I hope that, through the Kentucky Fellowship, I can be a voice for my peers—to share their ideas, their concerns, their solutions—for the betterment of our students.”
Hope Street Vice President of Education Dan Cruce said the citizens of Kentucky, as well as the country, watch as the implementation and intersection of teacher effectiveness systems and common core standards begin.
“Hope Street Group and Kentucky stakeholders believe that this intersection must be met with informed educator feedback,” he said. “The Hope Street Group Kentucky Teacher Fellows have a critical charge ahead to expand engagement of their peers, by their peers. They stand ready to lead in this role as they lead every day in their respective classrooms.”
Hendricks is in her ninth year of teaching in the public schools and currently a fourth grade teacher. She began her career in special education, teaching in both high school and elementary settings.
“Schools should be collaborative and protected communities of capable, tenacious learners who are not afraid of change, who celebrate the accomplishments of ourselves and others, and who accept the challenges that will lead us to greater success,” she said.
A native of Michigan, Hendricks earned degrees in Education and Theatre from Hope College. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Indiana University.
She is an alumnus of the Phil Mickelson Exxon Mobil Teacher’s Academy and the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy programs.
Before entering the classroom, Hendricks spent several years touring the country as a children’s theatre educator. Through this experience, she realized that no matter where one is—in northern New Mexico or eastern Kentucky—kids are kids, and they deserve the very best that teachers have to offer.
She has also appeared in small roles in two movies. In The Perfect Gift, she played a teacher, Mrs. Torretti (“Quite an artistic stretch for me,” she said). In 1 Message, she played a nurse.
“Both were very small roles, but definitely fun,” she said.
Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 850 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.