A Gilmer ISD teacher has been selected as one of 15 inaugural members of a statewide advocacy board that seeks to improve public education in Texas.
Ginny Matthew, a life skills teacher at Gilmer Intermediate School, has been selected to participate on the Texas Aspires Foundation’s educator board. The board is made up of teachers, coaches, administrators and counselors from schools of all sizes throughout the state, and Matthew said the political and advocacy work she’ll be doing is a natural extension of her background — seeing good education policies and practices made her want every school to implement them.
“I taught in Florida, and I taught in California and Alabama and Kansas, and every state that I went to would do things differently,” she said. “And sometimes, it was good, and then sometimes it was really not good, so going through that experience in different places and different types of schools, I really became an advocate for, in this case, it was kids who were at-risk of not graduating or kids with special needs.”
The Texas Aspires Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to improve education in partnership with leaders in schools, businesses and communities. The new educator board will be working with the foundation to affect change among state policymakers.
“As a former teacher myself, I understand the frustrations these teachers face every day,” said Texas Aspires Director of Policy Molly Weiner, who will oversee the board. “They feel like state policy is being done to them instead of with them. We are committed to bringing educators to the table so they can voice their concerns and their ideas for change.”
Matthew said board members have been given wide latitude in terms of their focus.
“It’s up to us,” she said. “We kind of decide the areas that we’re going to attend to and the degree to which we’re going to participate as well.”
Matthew is leaning toward the topics of teacher retention and special populations. She also wants Texas to do more to make it easier for teachers to get national board certification, which takes between two and five years and costs about $2,000.
“Teachers with national board certification, the students that are in their classes will learn at a rate that is — it’s almost as if they had gone to five months’ extra of school,” Matthew said, later adding “What happens is you produce these kids that are a lot smarter than otherwise, and so it’s just great the research that’s coming out.
“I’m a big proponent of making that easier and looking at whether or not the Legislature can help out with that or supplement that, because there are a lot of states that do that and their teachers are getting better and better.”