- What is your name and alma mater? Which UELIP cohort were you a part of?
My name is Liz Blesson, and I was a part of the Summer 2013 UELIP cohort. I majored in Applied Psychology at Boston College with minors in History, Spanish, and Organizational Studies. I also received my Master’s in Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation from BC.
- What is your current position? What does your work entail?
I am a Dual Language Program Analyst in the Office of Teaching and Learning, working on initiatives that embrace the cultural and linguistic diversity of DC. Two amazing initiatives at DCPS are the Seal of Bi-Literacy Initiative, recognizing high school students who are fluent in English and another language, and El Festival de Poesía, where students from our dual language schools write and deliver poems in Spanish and English, celebrating their bilingualism. When school isn’t in session, my primary responsibilities involve planning the logistics of these programs, managing the translation of curriculum, and assisting at the intake center at Garrison ES for ELL students and their families.
- What position were you in as a UELIP? What project(s) did you work on?
I worked in the Office of Human Capital (now divided into the Office of Talent and Culture and Office of Instructional Practice) on the Strategic Staffing team. I helped organize and oversee onboarding sessions for hundreds of newly hired teachers, and I helped manage hiring fairs for excessed teachers.
- What were your fondest memories from the UELIP program?
The UELIP program provides a great space to meet people with whom you already have common ground (i.e., a passion for education!). I made a core group of friends that summer, and we still keep in touch today. I also enjoyed my time as one of the social networking chairs, organizing networking and team building events for all UELIPs.
- How does your past experience with the UELIP program inform your work now?
The UELIP program gave me greater patience for and a more nuanced understanding of how change occurs in education, particularly in urban school districts. That being said, I really appreciate how DCPS adopts a methodical yet risk-taking mentality and tries to balance innovation with consistency. Being a UELIP three years ago allowed me to get comfortable with Central Office, which eased the transition into my current role.
- What advice would you give to your past UELIP self?
Be more open to constructive criticism! Your supervisors and peers in Central Office want you to constantly improve and produce your highest quality of work. They have your best interests in mind and will give you valuable and honest feedback. Don’t take constructive feedback personally, always pay attention to detail, and learn from those around you.
- What is one important relationship that you formed as a result of your time as a UELIP?
I still keep in touch with my supervisor, Tammy Whyte in the Office of Talent and Culture. Her journey through education is fascinating, and I love listening to such organic developments in her life and career. That’s another huge plus about DCPS and the UELIP program: everyone brings a wealth of unique experiences and stories to the table, which will help you evaluate and chart your own path in school and in life.
- In what ways would you like to grow in the next five years?
I love research, and working for DCPS would serve as good grounding for whatever research I conduct in the future. But I also love teaching and working with children! So in the next five years, I see myself either going back to school or teaching in the classroom. Once I dive into the dual language programs this school year, the type of work I prefer should clarify the goals and values that will determine my next step.