Amy Wooten is the vice president of policy for Deans for Impact. Prior to joining Deans for Impact, Amy led reform efforts related to educator preparation in Tennessee, conducted human capital research for a large school district in Georgia and taught in North Carolina. She received her bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and a doctorate in education policy from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

The people in this organization, including staff and member deans, do not shy away from the hard work that is needed

When did you start working in education?

Apparently, when I was young! I tore pages out of my books so that I could give worksheets to my stuffed-animal students. However, I really fell in love with teaching during a field experience that was part of an elective course I took in college. Mostly I observed, but after teaching one lesson to a group of rambunctious elementary students, I was hooked. After college, I completed a preparation program and taught for three years. My former students are the reason I engage in work that is squarely focused on ensuring that all students have access to effective educators.

Why were you excited to join Deans for Impact?

I am excited to join an organization that is focused on supporting the continuous improvement of how we prepare teachers and working to elevate the profession of teaching. The people in this organization, including staff and member deans, do not shy away from the hard work that is needed, in fact they embrace that challenge. I am excited to have the opportunity to connect with and learn from educator preparation faculty, state-level policy actors and leaders of advocacy organizations across the country who seek to ensure that our nation’s teachers are well-equipped to meet the needs of all of our students.

Why do Deans for Impact’s guiding principles ring true for you?

Grounding decision-making in data for the purpose of learning and to support continuous improvement is hard, but necessary, work. In my experience, effective leaders of educator-preparation programs are eager for high quality data that can be used to better understand how the design of educator preparation supports the development of effective educators.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

I’ve had lots of fantastic teachers, but Mrs. McCombs, my second and third grade teacher, was probably my favorite. She set high expectations and coupled that with an approach designed to build confidence in her young students. I remember finally grasping the concept of fractions using a clock, a dollar bill and coins, being asked to creatively demonstrate the concepts of scale and topography in a drawing, and learning to love books in the pillow-filled, claw-footed bath tub available for independent reading time. These memories are special because she made learning authentic and fun.

What’s your favorite food truck and why?

My favorite Nashville-based food truck is The Grilled Cheeserie. The Pimento Mac and Chee is the definition of comfort food. Cheese, bacon and tomatoes – it’s sinfully delicious.

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