Developing Educator Leaders

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Teacher Leaders Program  

All UESF members are invited to apply — Counselors, Nurses, ParaEducators, T10s, Speech Language Pathologists, Teachers, Social Workers, Central Office staff, etc.  Not yet a member?  Fill out the membership form here.

Stipends for participants. Ongoing support; and access to AFT’s nationwide online community of educator leaders engaged in this work.

The application form, essay and two letters of support are due by September 6, 2022 .

The Teacher Leaders Program brings together a selected group of certificated and classified union members and empowers them to assume active leadership roles in their schools, unions and communities. These educators then serve as catalysts to build their profession and strengthen their union and its connection to the community in order to generate support and understanding of public schools. Teacher Leaders will continue to use the skills they develop in the 8 month program throughout their careers.

AFT brochure:  From Practice to Policy 

Special Research Topic Track 2nd & 3rd year participants only, here.
Choose from one of these four topics:
– Community Schools
– Educator Shortage
– Literacy
– Career and Technical Education

Program Goals: 
Participants will be able to 
(1) understand and engage in local action research to create avenues of change in educational practice and discuss education policy with guest speakers; 
(2) complete assigned tasks between meetings; and 
(3) attend and fully participate in the required monthly meetings.

Please contact Diana Mueller at with questions.

Past UESF Teacher Leaders’ Research Topics

2021-2022 Research Topics 
⧫⧫ How would American Sign Language (ASL) assessments (reading, writing, ASL milestones) affect deaf and hard of hearing student success ⧫⧫  Evaluating Speech-Language Pathologists to capture and promote professional growth ⧫⧫ BMI: A deeply flawed tool for measuring health ⧫⧫  Restorative Practices humanizing education & learning spaces ⧫⧫  What were the challenges and successes of the “Black Teacher Project in SFUSD? ⧫⧫  Expanding Health throughout High School experience ⧫⧫  School & Community Attendance Incentives for Elementary Students ⧫⧫  Using climate fiction to increase students’ awareness & readiness for action to stop climate change ⧫⧫ 

2020- 2021 Research Topics 
Social-emotional support for students in the midst of a pandemic ⧫⧫ LGBTQ+ cultural competency and staff PLCs  ⧫⧫ Effective systems of support for Special Ed Teachers ⧫⧫ How “High School Readiness” Perpetuates the Achievement  Impact on Student Self Perception and Learning Outcomes ⧫⧫ Using play to promote learning in public school early childhood students ⧫⧫ Implementing Ethnic Studies in SFUSD ⧫⧫ Interpersonal Communication skills for teachers and paras ⧫⧫ 

2019-2020 Research Topics
Special Ed teacher caseload versus workload ⧫⧫ Transforming the teacher evaluation process to better support student engagement and learning ⧫⧫ What EES/PreK Inclusion Model in SFUSD is most effective ⧫⧫ What is the effectiveness of the  mandated attendance intervention protocol on reducing chronic absenteeism ⧫⧫ How does teacher-para training on AAC systems positively impact student success ⧫⧫ The effects of teaching mindfulness to students ⧫⧫ How can SFUSD retain paraprofessionals by making it an economically sustainable career ⧫⧫ SFUSD Teacher pay vs. other Bay Area Counties ⧫⧫ How does SF Residency model benefit students and participating teachers ⧫⧫ Para-to-teacher-program and workplace diversity ⧫⧫

What UESF Teacher Leaders have to say about the program

Cohort 2021-22
“My experience in the program has been eye-opening and inspiring, to say the least. I have not only connected with aspiring leaders in educational policy but have also gained a fun, hardworking, and loving community in the process.”  Charmaine Shuford, Teacher – Downtown HS

“Participating in this program helped to gain knowledge and skills that will help inform my professional abilities throughout the rest of my career. It provided insight that is necessary to truly understand what it means to be an educator and the power this position holds. This program was well paced and highly supported throughout the (school) year long process.” Kelly Gahagan, Speech Language Pathologist 

“The program offered both space and perspective to think and plan through an issue.  The support to help guide my work and thinking was always present and helped push my work.” Giulio Sorro,Teacher – June Jordan School for Equity 

“TLP helped me to prepare what I needed to decide and present to the important people in the district between classified to board members for the project, Deaf Education and Literacy, by using their primary language, ASL and English, respectively. It also was very organized with excellent leaders who brought their perspectives to the table and shaped the project I wanted to present and continued working with a mission along with my fellow collaborators and colleagues.”  Janaee Cobbs, Teacher – Cesar Chavez ES 

Cohort 2020-21
“The Teacher Leaders program allowed me to have necessary conversations with colleagues to gauge their needs and awareness of the issues I presented and to contribute meaningful policy recommendations.”  Daniel Ryan, Paraeducator, Access SFUSD: The Arc

“Being an AFT Teacher Leader was an inspiring and comforting project.  I cannot say enough good about it; I was able to share ideas with dedicated colleagues in confidence, develop insight into my more profound interests, and I was challenged to complete my research design and its development by knowledgeable AFT educators.  My experience helped me learn more about myself and drove me to seek in-depth information about the students and communities we serve. I feel like a more fully realized human being from my experiences being an AFT Teacher Leader.”   K. Rolph Morales – Spanish Immersion educator

“The AFT Teacher Leaders program is an amazing opportunity for impacting REAL change.  You learn how to develop and recommend policy that will help shape the future of education.”  David Greenbaum (Mr G) – Visitacion Valley MS

“Participating in the AFT Teacher Leaders Program allowed me to develop my ability to research education policy to leverage change. By learning how to conduct a cycle of inquiry and action research, I obtained specific evidence on how the policy impacted student learning outcomes. Knowledgeable and supportive educator leaders facilitated every step of the process, and each Saturday we met was informative and productive. I also benefited from listening to and engaging with leaders ranging from policymakers to district and city supervisors. The AFT program is a terrific opportunity to hone research skills and present findings to create more equitable learning environments for all students. Lavinia Lindsay Meeker, James Denman MS Physical Education Teacher
Cohort 2019-20
“It was a tremendous gift to have the opportunity to engage in such important research and to hear from actual Special Education Teachers what they need to thrive and sustain a career in this district. It was a powerful experience and extremely affirming after 20 years of teaching in this district.  The question still remains, do we want to sustain and retain our Special Education Teaching force? What is the real cost of not actively addressing this issue?”  Diane R. Thompson, SFUSD C&I/PGD, TSA:  Special Education Induction Coach 

“Being a part of the Teacher Leaders Program was an eye-opening experience on the process and work it takes to make policy.  I really enjoyed my time listening to others share the many topics that affect us and our communities.  At times, it was challenging and frustrating, but it was rewarding when it was over.  I hope my topic on wages for paraprofessionals can be further explored deeper and put into practice and policy.”  Josh Rosen, paraeducator, Access: The Arc

“The AFT Teacher Leaders Program brought valuable fellowship with other educators within SFUSD. It was a wonderful way to collaborate with our fellow educators and bring our important issues to the table. This program is a way to create future positive life changes for all of our educators and students. It’s one of the best ways to have those in charge of our educational system to hear our voices in order for them to make the necessary changes in future policies.”  Ramona T. Aviles, Marina MS, Special Ed ParaEducator