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Peoria Unified Teachers Win National Teacher Impact Grant

PEORIA, Ariz. – Desert Harbor Elementary School teacher, Melissa Shaver, along with two of her colleagues, received one of the first-ever ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), Teacher Impact Grants. The grant will directly fund teacher leadership initiatives to drive transformation and improve student outcomes in the classroom. There were 580 applications submitted and the winning proposals were selected through a peer review process that was completed by a panel of current and former classroom teachers associated with ASCD, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and the U.S. Department of Education.


Shaver, along with her colleagues, Cheryl Mertz from Desert Harbor Elementary School, and Jean Cole from Frontier Elementary School, will receive ongoing support from ASCD staff and will provide detailed progress updates each quarter.


The Teacher Impact Grants, which were announced at a White House ceremony in May, are the first of their kind in the United States and reflect the growing movement across the country of empowering teachers in the classroom to play a more central role in transforming the teaching profession. Each of the 17 grant recipients―who come from 14 different states―is a teacher leader who spends at least 50 percent of his or her time in a classroom setting. Shaver received a $10,000 grant as a result of her dedication to students. Additionally, Shaver and Cole have been invited to the US Department of Education to meet with US Secretary of Education, John King, on Nov. 16, 2017.


Each grant project will be planned and executed during the 2016-17 academic year. Shaver’s project will employ a professional development model that will use collaboration, engagement, support through coaching, Professional Learning Communities, and reflection. It will seek to create an effective and meaningful support system for ongoing growth and development, to enhance skills through interaction and peer engagement, and to model and celebrate successes. One of Shaver’s project goals includes asking teacher leaders to embrace and lead necessary reform change, such as changes to existing structures and mindsets.


The program is part of Teach to Lead, an initiative jointly convened by the U.S. Department of Education, ASCD, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Teacher Impact Grants are administered by ASCD and financially supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


For more information about ASCD’s commitment to teacher leadership please visit To learn more about the Teach to Lead initiative, which aims to cultivate the expertise of teachers to drive transformation in schools, districts, and states, including the development of policies that affect teacher work and student learning, visit


Peoria Unified, located in the Northwest Valley, serves more than 36,000 students in 34 elementary schools, seven high schools and one non-traditional high school. With ongoing open enrollment and alternative educational opportunities, the district boasts a 93 percent high school graduation rate. It is one of the largest unified school districts in Arizona and prides itself on excelling schools, award-winning teachers, high test scores, specialized signature programs and championship sports programs. For more information, visit the district’s website at