Patrice Dawkins-Jackson, an alumna of the UCF College of Education, has been selected as a 2012-2013 Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education.

Jackson graduated from UCF in 2002 with a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and completed her master’s degree specializing in Home-School, Community and Educational Leadership in 2003. She currently works as a first-grade teacher and grade-level chair at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School in Sandy Springs, Ga.

Jackson was selected along with 11 others out of 625 applicants from different states, grade levels and specializations. She is one of six teaching ambassador fellows that will remain in their classrooms and participate in the fellowship on a part-time basis. As part of the fellowship, she will have the opportunity to learn about and give input on national educational policy issues. She will also be instructing teachers on how to implement gifted strategies to challenge all learners in a general education setting and working on the RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching) Project.

“I aspire to obtain my Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies and I feel like the fellowship will prepare me for that experience,” Jackson said. “I also feel that it will improve my communication, networking and leadership skills.  The fellowship will also make me a greater advocate for students and the teaching profession.”

She described the application process for the fellowship as extensive and highly competitive. The requirements include six multiple-question essays, several letters of support and a lengthy general application. The selection committee looks for candidates who demonstrate exceptional leadership and communication skills, the ability to show initiative and a desire to learn and inform policy.

Jackson is also a four-time Teacher of the Year nominee and won the honor in 2012. She has served in several leadership capacities while conducting action research and teaching in classrooms.

“Oftentimes I speak about how I felt well-prepared for success due to my experience at UCF,” she said. “The caliber of professors and rigor during my teacher- preparation program was exceptional. I met my mentor, Laine Powell, when I was a Minority Programs in Education scholar and I am still in contact with some of my Early Childhood Education professors.  They shaped me into the teacher I am today.”