Dana Jacobson
2016-2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year


What a pivotal time to be an educator!  As I begin my eighteenth year teaching in Alabama, I am empowered by the possibilities of creating stronger communities of learners and teachers. Teachers often hear they are the single most important variable in a child’s education; this is a tremendous gift and also a tremendous responsibility.  As we work to prevent students from dropping out and simultaneously have high expectations for all students, we are finding solutions such as online learning, blended learning, and career academies.  We must use our imagination to find ways to make connections, close the achievement gap, and increase student achievement for all.  We teachers must collaborate with other teachers, classrooms of students, and schools; community members; parents; business leaders; community college and university professors; instructors at vocational institutes; employers and employees in a wide range of occupations; and those at all levels of government.  The power of authentic engagement and partnerships, once harnessed, can help us reach for and land among the stars.

As we think about expanding our schools beyond the school walls as well as bringing the world into our schools, we must be aware that collaboration comes in many forms.  A teacher might partner with a teacher in a different content area or one across the country for a writing assignment.  A team of teachers might partner with a university’s teacher preparation program to develop a common professional learning community.  An empty nester might volunteer as a room parent not in his or her school district but in a district that serves primarily low-income families.  A school administrator might partner with another from a school in the feeder pattern or, better yet, from a school across the district to collaborate on programming.  A business person, a doctor, a judge, an electrician, or a construction worker might speak to a class or invite students to shadow him or her.  A professor might adopt a group of middle school students, mentoring those students over the school years through the college application process.  Business people might partner with a related career academy at a local school.  Some of the most brilliant research happens not within disciplines but across them.  Connections spark energy!  Imagine if everyone in the community participates in making Aha! moments for students!  What kind of energy can we harness for the sake of our country’s future?  If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes each of us to improve our schools.  

• Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Theater (concentration in literary criticism), Smith College,
     Northampton, Massachusetts, January 1983
• Master of Arts in Education in English Language Arts, University of Alabama at Birmingham,
     December 1998

Leadership Activities
• NCTE/CAEP Program Reviewer, 2016-2017 (pending training)
• Clay-Chalkville High School Leadership Team Coordinator, 2016-2017
• Gear Up ACT Instructor, 2016-2017
• Red Mountain Writing Project Professional Development Team Leader for Carver High School
• Red Mountain Writing Project Fellow; Red Mountain Writing Project Teacher Consultant, 2016-present
• Red Mountain Writing Project Summer Institute, June 2016
• Clay-Chalkville High School Key Communicator, April 2016-present
• Mentor Teacher, 2014-present
• Supervising Teacher for Preservice Teachers, 2012-present
• Diversity Training Team Leader, 2001-present
• Director of Aspire Academy, an innovative program for at-risk students, 2014-2016
• English Language Arts Vertical Professional Learning Team Facilitator, 2012-2014

• Alabama Teacher of the Year, 2016-2017
• Final Four, Alabama Teacher of the Year 2005-2006, 2016-2017
• Alabama District VII Secondary Teacher of the Year, 2004; 2016
• Jefferson County Teacher of the Year, 2004; 2016
• Clay-Chalkville High School Teacher of the Year 2004-2005; 2015-2016
• Recognition from Google and Poll Everywhere for an Innovative Idea, 2015