The EPFP was created in 1964 with funding from the Ford Foundation. Through the support and coordination of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC), Pennsylvania’s EPFP just completed its ninth year of operation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the format and schedule of the 2019-2020 program was altered from the traditional program. Having started in fall 2019, the program was set to end in June 2020 but after the pandemic halted in-person activities, Ron Cowell, president of EPLC, announced that it would be extended into December. McDyre and Patterson both attended the recognition program for graduates of the program, held via Zoom on Dec. 8.
Over the course of the year, the fellows participated in dialogue with key decision-makers, influencers and practitioners in areas of statewide policy that impact children and their education. Monthly seminar topics included "Lessons in Strategic Leadership," "Making Public Policy in Pennsylvania," and "Standards-Based Education Reform."
As part of the EPFP, Patterson said, participants create and present a policy implementation. Her contribution, done in collaboration with McDyre, was “adapting some current forms that are part of the teacher certification process and embedding in them some more trauma- and equity-informed language.”
“I’m consulting on some development of trauma-informed modules for current teachers,” Patterson said. “The opportunity to do that research and work is informing the work I do with the individuals who are creating these modules.”
While the fellows were slated to present their projects at the Washington Policy Seminar, EPFP's national capstone multi-day capacity building event, in Washington, D.C., in April, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the time when the fellows were able to safely meet in person, McDyre and Patterson said that they particularly enjoyed a group trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, last fall and spending a day at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. At the War College, instructors from the U.S. Army Department of Command, Leadership and Management (DCLM) shared some of the strategic leadership concepts taught to military and government leaders at college.
An unforeseen benefit of participating in the program, Patterson said, was “how close Alicia and I have gotten this past year.” She added, “In my approach to social justice and education, I think relationship building is paramount.”
McDyre said that she benefited from learning about the diverse backgrounds of her EPFP cohorts, which included professionals from state agencies, public school districts, charter schools, state associations and nonprofit organizations. Those experiences could aid her in counseling some of her students who have expressed uncertainty about becoming teachers.
“It was nice to understand what (education) jobs are available,” she said. “Because I was around such a dynamic group of different people and heard about all their different careers and interests, I was able to give (students) more insight into different career opportunities.”