Noteable: Amanda Hobson
Amanda Hobson, Ed.M.’10, is a first-grade master reading teacher at Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School in Charleston, S.C., and a teacher fellow for StudentsFirst. She fought for StudentsFirst to expand into South Carolina by directly appealing to its founder, Michelle Rhee.
Program: Risk and Prevention (now Prevention Science and Practice)
Code name: Warrior for Social Justice
Amanda Hobson, Ed.M.'10, has always believed that, in education reform, the needs of the students should come first. Unfortunately, she says, her home state of South Carolina has taken a different approach.
"Students are being underserved every day because of policies that are not student-centered," Hobson says. "Our students can't afford to keep waiting for change."
Already a teacher at Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School in Charleston, S.C. — a turnaround school that is a part of the Charleston Promise Neighborhood, an effort modeled after the work of the Harlem Children's Zone — Hobson felt that she could do more. Ever since Lecturer Karen Mapp, Ed.M.'93, Ed.D.'99, urged her students to be "warriors for social justice," Hobson has aspired to the role.
"To me, being a warrior for social justice means doing whatever it takes to change the odds for kids who are stuck in failing school systems," she says.
Hobson applied to be a teacher fellow with StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee's organization that works to enact public education policy that puts students' interests at the forefront. Its fellows are positioned to be active in the reform movement and to become leaders among the teachers in their communities. Since the organization was not yet in South Carolina, Hobson pushed hard to bring it to the state, going so far as to appeal to Rhee personally during one of the fellows' quarterly meetings. She succeeded, and in March, Hobson and other representatives of StudentsFirst met with South Carolina legislators to discuss policy.
"My hope is to ignite conversations about reform in Charleston and, more broadly, in South Carolina," Hobson says. "I hope that through these conversations, teachers will feel empowered to have a voice around policy issues that affect their students' futures."
In addition to her reform work, Hobson continues as a reading specialist at Sanders-Clyde, where she assists in implementing new curriculum and professional development programs. She is also an adjunct professor at Charleston Southern University, from which she led a trip this summer to Ghana to teach in two village schools and bring school materials.
Hobson is happy with the progress that has been made so far in South Carolina but is far from satisfied.
"I am excited about the change I have been fortunate to be a part of," she says. "[It] is just the beginning, and with the amazing educators we have in South Carolina we can become a model for school reform in the country."