Alumna Janis Birdsall: Impact of Faculty Voices

Janis BirdsallJanis Birdsall reflects on teaching, learning, and the role of SIT faculty in helping teachers’ voices be heard, even in her own school district. A student in 1991, she also taught MAT students for many years and continues to supervise them.

The faculty is SIT’s single most valuable asset. As a whole, this group carries the history of the institution, its evolution and development along with its current mission. Its members retain both the historical perspective and a vision for the future that will continue its tradition of excellence.

Everything I’ve been able to accomplish as a member of the SIT faculty is the result of what I learned from my colleagues. The knowledge and experience they offered allowed me to shape my own beliefs and teaching practices in ways that serve my students. Without that I would have been a member of the faculty, but not a part of the whole. The hallmark of the SIT faculty is that it shares a common purpose and a global mission which must be passed on.

I teach in a public school in Connecticut. In that context, I am always struck by the top-down model of administration. Teachers are neither trusted nor valued and their voices, more often than not, are ignored. And yet, even in that climate, I continue to speak. Clear beliefs and deeply held values, shaped at SIT, make it impossible for me to remain silent.

I have supervised SIT students for 15 years. They are the leaders in their schools, and they fight for the SIT mission. I have to believe that they will be heard in schools around the world and that their voices will shape the future of education.

It was the voices of SIT faculty that began a ripple effect of change in schools around the world.

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