UW–Madison’s Owenby named to national fellowship for educator-preparation leaders

UW–Madison’s Thomas Owenby was recently named an Impact Academy fellow through the national nonprofit organization Deans for Impact (DFI). Owenby, who is the School of Education’s associate dean for teacher education, joins a cohort of leaders chosen for their commitment to improving educator preparation.


Educator-preparation programs today face complex challenges as they recruit and prepare teachers who are equipped to engage all PK-12 students in rigorous, equitable, and affirming learning experiences. More than ever, the field needs leaders who can strengthen and diversify the educator workforce. DFI aims to fill this need through its Impact Academy fellowship, which has empowered more than 130 dean-level leaders to date with skills, knowledge, and strategies to prioritize instructional quality and build more equitable systems of teaching and learning.

Owenby is one of 17 leaders announced as part of the fellowship’s ninth cohort. These fellows lead programs that serve 19 U.S. states and a broad diversity of geographic contexts from coast to coast. Forty-seven percent lead institutions that serve a majority of aspiring teachers of color, and 41 percent are leaders of color themselves. Six are Minority-Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Predominantly Black Institutions, and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Collectively, 48 percent of the aspiring teachers these institutions annually serve identify as people of color.

“I am excited to engage in this Deans for Impact fellowship to learn with and from experienced teacher education leaders,” says Owenby, who also is the director of the School of Education’s Mary T. Kellner Teacher Education Center. “I think that this opportunity will support our ongoing efforts in the Mary T. Kellner Teacher Education Center to incubate research-based efforts to uplift and continually improve teacher education.

Fellows will participate in monthly learning sessions, receive one-on-one coaching from seasoned leaders, and engage in peer consultancies to address field-facing challenges in real time. They will hone their ability to engage faculty, staff, communities, and PK-12 partners in a shared vision for transformative change, grounded in a deep scientific understanding about how students learn.

“All students, and particularly students of color and students from underserved communities, deserve access to teachers who are well-prepared to engage them in rigorous and affirming learning experiences from day one,” says Valerie Sakimura, executive director of DFI. “We are thrilled to welcome a new cohort of leaders to Impact Academy who are committed to making that a reality, by doubling down on the essential role they play in making pathways into teaching more accessible, practice-based, and focused on evidence-based instruction.”

To learn more about this year’s Impact Academy cohort, visit: deansforimpact.org/iac9-announcement.

DFI is a national nonprofit organization committed to ensuring that every child is taught by a well-prepared teacher. DFI supports educator-preparation programs to bring the science of learning into teaching practice; partners with policymakers to ensure pathways into teaching are accessible, practice-based, and focused on instruction; and equips leaders with the tools to address today’s most pressing challenges in educator preparation. Guided by principles of learning science, DFI aims to help aspiring and early-career teachers create rigorous and inclusive classrooms where all children thrive. For more information, visit deansforimpact.org.

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