The School Ambassador Fellowship is a paid position that supports the Department’s mission by employing a cadre of outstanding educators to contribute their classroom and school expertise to the national education dialogue and in turn facilitate discussions with educators across the country. For the Fellows, the program adds greater knowledge of educational policy and leadership to their toolkits, allowing them to further contribute to solutions at all levels for long intractable challenges in education.
The Fellowship program launched in 2007 with an effort explicitly centered on teachers—the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program. In 2013, the Department added a companion effort to include principals in education discussions, the Principal Ambassador Fellowship. Since then, the Department has collaborated with 118 outstanding teachers and principals in full- and part-time positions as Ambassador Fellows. The Department maintains contact with this network of Alumni Fellows as key contacts in the field who now lead from a variety of levels within the education system and who can continue to inform and share Department efforts.
In 2017, the Department expanded efforts to create a new School Ambassador Fellowship and to make this opportunity open to all school based staff members—teachers, principals and other key school staff members like counselors, librarians, and parent liaisons who have valuable contributions to make to the national dialogue given their experiences with students and teachers on a daily basis.
2019-2020 Fellowship Positions
As with the previous Teaching and Principal Fellowship roles, the School Ambassador Fellowship is a year-long paid position that begins in the fall.
The program offers two separate year-long tracks: the Washington Fellowship, which is a full-time appointment where teachers, principals, and other school staff members are based in residence at the Department’s Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Campus Fellowship enables educators to collaborate with the Department on a part-time basis while maintaining their regular school responsibilities in their home communities. In addition to taking on individual tasks subject to their unique background and expertise, all school Ambassador Fellows collaborate with one another as a team to provide common outreach and gain insight from the field.
In the Washington Fellowship, selected participants serve as full-time Federal employees in Washington, DC for one school year. Fellows are placed in offices within the Department of Education to work on education programs and policy matters. They contribute valuable school and classroom-level knowledge and perspective to the Department, greatly increase their own knowledge and understanding of Federal education policies and programs, and collaborate to provide specific outreach to other teachers. Over the year, Washington Fellows gain in-depth knowledge of Department initiatives; provide their perspectives to senior staff; share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences; facilitate discussion among educators about policy in DC and in areas around the country as necessary; and plan and implement various convenings and events for local educators and others on behalf of the Department.
In the Campus Fellowship, selected educators serve as paid, part-time Federal employees, in addition to their primary school roles, for one year. Fellows share public information with and facilitate conversations amongst educators at the district, State and regional level. They contribute their insights and knowledge about schools and classrooms to the Department, increase their knowledge and understanding of Federal education policies and programs and their critical interplay with State and local policies, and collaborate with other Fellows and Department staff to provide specific outreach to educators. Over the year, Campus Fellows gain knowledge of key Department initiatives and work to understand how these intersect with State and local efforts; work with Department staff to gather and share information with constituencies in the region; and periodically share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences.
Intergovernmental Personnel Act Agreements
Both Washington and Campus Ambassador Fellows are hired for the year under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) mobility program. The IPA mobility program provides for the temporary assignment of skilled personnel to or from state and local governments and certain other organizations to facilitate cooperation between the Federal government and the non-Federal entity, and provide mutual benefits for limited periods without loss of employee rights and benefits.
All School Ambassador Fellows are teachers, librarians, counselors, parent liaisons, principals or other school staff members on loan from their school or district to the Department through the IPA Authority. Fellows are paid to assist the Department at ED’s expense. They gain valuable professional development and experience with Federal education policies, programs and processes to share with their colleagues and school community during and following the Fellowship year.
For the Washington Fellowship program, the IPA is completed with the selected Fellow’s employers to clarify that the educator is on temporary assignment or “loan” to the Department. The Department will pay the salary of the Fellow for the year, but the Fellow is still an employee of the district. The Department requests that employers agree to maintain the Fellow’s benefits, potentially with reimbursement from ED, in order to minimize disruption to the Fellow. The position does involve some travel, all of the expenses for which are covered by the Department.
Campus Ambassador Fellows gain approval from their employers to work part-time for ED in addition to their primary work in their school communities. Campus Fellowship work is paid for on an hourly basis, for approximately 20-40 hours a month. While much of the work may occur in after-school hours and on weekends, some outreach and team planning requires flexibility of scheduling. Thus the IPA for Campus Fellowship requests that the employer agree to provide some limited unpaid leave in order to enable the Fellow to fully participate in the program. All travel or Fellowship activities requested to take place during regular school hours are subject to the availability of the Fellow and the permission of the employer, given the Fellow’s primary school duties and responsibilities.
Further information about the IPA program is available on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website at: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-information/intergovernment-personnel-act/.