Delaware Nonprofit Receives Major Grants to Improve Teaching Profession
The Rodel Foundation

Rodel Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                        
  Matt Amis

Delaware Nonprofit Receives Major Grants to Improve Teaching Profession
NEA Foundation and Rodel Foundation of Delaware Fund PD Created by Educators for Educators
WILMINGTON—Schools That Lead (STL) has received a pair of $50,000 grants from two foundations: the Rodel Foundation of Delaware and the NEA Foundation, an independent public charity based in Washington, D.C. that funds and supports educator-driven solutions to improve instructional practice to prepare students for college, career, and life. The grants fund an educator-driven professional development program that uses peer-to-peer observation and feedback to improve instructional practice and advance student achievement.

“We believe this approach to improving instructional practice holds enormous potential because it is led by educators, is centered on student learning, and emphasizes reflection, collaboration, and experimentation,” said Harriet Sanford, CEO and president of the NEA Foundation. “By building this approach and embedding it in schools, we expect to develop a highly effective and sustainable model for improving instructional practice and advancing student achievement. We will fully leverage knowledge gained in Delaware by sharing what we learn with educators, schools, and school districts across the nation.”

The grants are in addition to a $250,000 grant awarded in December from the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union, to its local affiliate the Delaware State Education Association that will support STL’s ongoing work in Delaware. 
The grants aim to extend the reach of Schools that Lead programming, and particularly its “Delaware Teacher Leadership Initiative: Growing and Supporting Teacher Leadership.” The program helps foster rich and engaging professional development opportunities for teachers. This year over 40 teachers are participating and a similar or larger number are expected for the 2016-17 school year.
The Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI) brings together cohorts of teachers, and facilitates strategic conversations about kids in classrooms, about their own and their colleagues’ practice, and identifying evidence of student learning. 
Schools That Lead is a nonprofit organization that develops teacher-leaders within and across schools, bringing a deep focus on student learning. Key to this work is developing teacher-leaders with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to make great student learning happen. 
“Frequently, teachers attend professional development that helps them improve learning in their classrooms,” said Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace, CEO and president of STL. “Infrequently do they have the opportunity to help their peers do the same in ways that are important to teachers.”
Lea Wainwright, a past Delaware Teacher of the Year from the Appoquinimink School District said, “This is the best professional development I’ve had. It’s like personalized learning for teachers.”
Paul Herdman, president of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware and founding chair of the STL board, said, “We are very excited to deepen our support of STL’s work and to partner with the NEA Foundation, DSEA, and NEA. This project is one of the most innovative in Delaware, and even across the country because it is so simple and organic. It’s about professional learning versus professional development. TLI gives teachers the skills and space to change the culture in their schools, to push their thinking, to fail, and to learn.”
The goal of Schools That Lead is to improve student academic achievement by having teachers work together to solve problems of practice at the classroom level. The funding will also go toward partial tuition support for new TLI cohort members, as well as the implementation of a teacher leadership model. Educators and schools can apply to participate in the TLI program by contacting the organization at
Schools That Lead
Schools That Lead is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing student learning by honoring the desire of teachers to learn from one another about they care about most: their students’ needs. Our work encompasses the development of teacher leaders in schools across Delaware, support for the implementation of rigorous standards, and participation in national action research. Teachers and principals share their testimonials about the impact of our work on their day-to-day practice.

The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators’ dues, corporate sponsors, and other supporters of public education initiatives. We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning.

Note to Editor: Please refer to us as The NEA Foundation. We never spell out the NEA part of our name.


The mission of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware is to help Delaware build one of the finest systems of public education in the world by 2020.