These 20 new Teach Plus fellows will use their classroom experience to help shape education policy

PHOTO: Provided by Teach Plus
The 2017-18 Teaching Policy Fellows for Teach Plus Indianapolis.

For the first several years of his career as a teacher, Nick Brewer was focused on his classroom. When education policy changes came along, he thought about what it would mean for his class.

“I would think … how do I live with whatever change this is — good or evil,” he said.

But a couple of years ago, the middle school teacher from Washington Township started studying to be an administrator, and he began to think about the broader impact of policy choices.

Now, Brewer is looking to have a hand in education policy as one of 20 new fellows for Teach Plus Indianapolis. Teach Plus is part of a national organization that trains teachers to advocate for policy, and it has been working with educators in Indianapolis since 2009. In the past, fellows have pushed for new teacher evaluation models in Indianapolis Public Schools and for a common enrollment system for public and charter schools.

“A lot of times education policy kind of gets dictated to us,” said Brewer. “Teach Plus was a very attractive opportunity to become a participant in the policy, as opposed to just passive.”

Brewer comes from a family of educators, but when he started college he did not intend to become a teacher. He had seen how hard and time-consuming the job was, he said.

“What I hadn’t seen was the relationships you form with kids, how enjoyable it is to teach something and have someone really learn it,” he said. “I didn’t feel the positives of teaching until I really got into the classroom.”

“I really want people to know,” Brewer continued, “teaching is an awesome profession to have.”

Here is the full list of 2017-18 Teach Plus Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows:

Idalmi Acosta, Harshman Magnet Middle School

Nicholas Brewer, Westlane Middle School

Mariah Cawthorne, Westland Middle School

Emily Chestnut, William McKinley School 39

Olivia Corya, KIPP Indy College Prep

Melody Coryell, Shortridge High School

Phoebe Duvall, Paramount School of Excellence

Nathan Evans, Avondale Meadows Academy

Shivani Goyal, Clarence Farrington Elementary School 61

Pennie Gregory, George Washington Community School

Shon Harris, Avondale Meadows Academy

Kayla Marshall, Paramount School of Excellence

Stephanie Mizen, Cold Spring Magnet School

RonNella Moore, The Excel Center-Meadows

Nichole Moore, North Madison Elementary School

Matthew Perkins, H.L. Harshman Magnet Middle School

Susan Scroggins, Herron High School

Katherine Speer, KIPP Indy College Prep Middle

Sarah TeKolste, Emmerich Manual High School

Haley Wing, James Whitcomb Riley School 43


A student is in custody after Noblesville West Middle School shooting that injured another student and teacher

Police asses the scene outside Noblesville High School after a shooting at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25, 2018 (Photo by Kevin Moloney/Getty Images)

A male student shot and injured a teacher and another student at Noblesville West Middle School on Friday morning, police said.

Noblesville police Chief Kevin Jowitt said the shooting suspect asked to leave a class and returned armed with two handguns. The suspect, who police said appeared to be uninjured, is in custody and has not been identified by police.

The teacher, 29-year-old Jason Seaman, was in “good” condition Friday evening at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, police said. The female student, who was not identified by police, was in critical condition at Riley Hospital for Children.

News outlets were reporting that Seaman intervened to stop the shooter, but authorities said they could not confirm that on Friday afternoon.

The Noblesville Police Department has a full-time school resource officer assigned to the school who responded to the incident, Jowitt said. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies also responded to the shooting.

“We do know that the situation resolved extremely quickly,” Jowitt said. “We don’t know what happened in the classroom, so I can’t make any kinds of comments about what [the resource officer’s] involvement was.”

Students were evacuated to Noblesville High School on Friday morning, where families met them.

Jowitt said an additional threat was made at the high school, but they had “no reason to believe it’s anything other than a communicated threat.”

Police continue to investigate. They said they do not believe there are additional suspects. Noblesville Police spokesman Bruce Barnes could not say how the student acquired the guns, but he said search warrants have been issued.

Noblesville West Middle School enrolls about 1,300 students. Noblesville is a suburb of Indianapolis, about 20 miles north in Hamilton County. The district has about 10,500 students.

The frenzied scenes Friday outside the school have become sadly familiar. Already, there have been 23 school shootings in 2018 that involved someone being injured or killed, according to media tallies.

Just last week, 10 people were killed and 13 others were injured in a shooting at Santa Fe High School outside Houston. A student at the school has been arrested and charged.

In February, 17 people — 14 students and three staff — were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and a 19-year-old faces multiple charges.  The Parkland tragedy set off a wave of student activism across the country — including in Indianapolis — calling for stricter gun control.

“We’ve had these shootings around the country,” said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear. “You just never think it could happen in Noblesville, Indiana. But it did.”

Noblesville Schools Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer praised the “heroic” efforts of school staff and students, saying they followed their training on how to react to an active shooter situation.

Barnes also hinted at the broader trauma that school shootings can have on students and communities.

“We ask for your prayers for the victims in this case,” he said. “I think that would include a lot of kids, not only ones that were truly the victims in this case, but all these other kids that are trying to make sense of this situation.”

Watch the press conference:

A Chalkbeat reporter is on the scene:

In a pattern that has become routine, Democratic and Republican politicians offered prayers on Twitter.

temporary reprieve

Parents score a temporary victory in slowing the closure of a small Brooklyn elementary school

PHOTO: Alex Zimmerman
Protesters gathered at the education department's headquarters to protest a recent set of closure plans.

A judge blocked the closure of a small Brooklyn elementary school Thursday — at least for now.

Three families from P.S. 25/the Eubie Blake School filed a lawsuit in March backed by the public interest group Advocates for Justice, arguing the city’s decision to close the school was illegal because the local elected parent council was not consulted.

Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Katherine Levine did not make a final ruling Thursday about whether the closure plan violated the law. But she issued a temporary order to keep the school open while the case moves forward.

It was not immediately clear when the case will be resolved or even if the school will remain open next year. “We are reviewing the stay and will determine an appropriate course of action once the judge makes a final decision on the case,” education department spokeswoman Toya Holness wrote in a statement.

The education department said the school has hemorrhaged students in recent years and is simply too small to be viable: P.S. 25 currently enrolls just 94 students in grades K-5.

“Because of extremely low enrollment, the school lacks the necessary resources to meet the needs of students,” Holness wrote. The city’s Panel for Educational Policy, a citywide oversight board that must sign off on all school closures, voted in February to close the school.

But the school’s supporters point out that despite low test scores in the past, P.S. 25 now ranks among the city’s top elementary schools, meaning that its closure would force students into lower-performing schools elsewhere.

“Why close a school that’s doing so well?” said Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters and one of the lawsuit’s supporters. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The lawsuit hinges on a state law that gives local education councils the authority to approve any changes to school zones. Since P.S. 25 is the only zoned elementary school for a swath of Bedford-Stuyvesant, the department’s plans would leave some families with no zoned elementary school dedicated to educating them, forcing students to attend other district schools or enter the admissions lottery for charter schools.

That amounts to “effectively attempting to change zoning lines” and “unlawfully usurping” the local education council’s authority to determine those zones, according to the lawsuit.

But even if the education department loses the lawsuit, the school’s fate would still be uncertain. The closure plan would theoretically be subject to a vote from the local education council, whose president supports shuttering the school.

Still, Haimson hopes the lawsuit ultimately persuades the education department to back away from closing the school in the long run.

“My goal would be to get the chancellor to change his mind,” Haimson said. “I don’t think the future is preordained.”