Capstone Portfolios

TLI participants develop field-based Capstone Portfolios  focusing on the following frames of teacher leadership:

Instructional Leadership – placing teachers at the center of supporting and improving teaching and learning in their schools and districts;

Policy Leadership – ensuring that experienced and accomplished teachers inform and influence policy making decisions at the local, state and national levels;

Association Leadership – preparing current and future association leaders to include advancing the profession of teaching and the professional interests of members into the union advocacy agenda.

Participants designed and/or implemented a capstone that gave them meaningful and practical exposure to leadership opportunities in which to apply leadership competencies and reflect upon and learn from these experiences.


TLI 2018-2019

Capstone Projects from TLI 2018-2019 Fellows

Contact Participant to view completed Capstone Portfolio.

Name Local Association Capstone Project
Ruth Allen Dracut

Social Emotional Learning in Early Childhood Classrooms

In just the six years I have specifically taught preschool students, I have noticed an increase in social emotional issues that just breaks my heart. Three and four-year old children should not have to deal with so much trauma! I was lucky enough to be part of a team that went to Yale University for RULER training. RULER is a wonderful social emotion al program that we will be introducing in Dracut this year.

Ginger Armstrong Lee

Many Roles of Teacher Leaders

Our personal effectiveness in our many roles (e.g. Local president, teacher, community member) is dependent on gaining trust of stakeholders, making strong decisions that explore and challenge inequity. Getting outside my comfort zone was difficult. Increasing my competency in the area of community awareness, engagement and advocacy by running a night class for adults.

Becky Csizmesia   Fall River

Moving Toward a Culturally Responsive Music Curriculum

Portfolio Description: When I first started teaching in Fall River, I was told that there was no curriculum, just meet the standards. Over the past couple of years, I led our elementary music team to create a curriculum map but it became obvious that we were not meeting our students' diverse needs. Due to a lack of a curriculum most teachers had gotten in the habit of simply having students sing from our outdated textbooks as they had themselves been taught music. These textbooks don't represent the musical culture of our students. When there was multicultural repertoire, there was often cultural misappropriation as well. It was not authentic. Lack of relevance and student engagement led to many classroom management issues across the district in music. I proposed to my fine arts director to lead a pilot team for a potential new curriculum. As she agreed, I led a pilot team of four elementary music educators using the Quaver music curriculum. We regularly reflected and discussed the impact of this curriculum on our students. As we found that this was ideal for our students, we began to lead professional development for the entire elementary music team to introduce both the curriculum and culturally responsive music education. This project was successful with the curriculum being adopted and used by all elementary music teachers in the Fall River Public Schools. Discussions continue for meeting our students' diverse needs and leading a culturally responsive music program.

Barbara Kallin Millbury

Pineapple Chart Take 2: Growing How We Learn from Our Colleagues

I examined options for jumpstarting a Pineapple Chart initiative I'd started the year before I discovered TLI. In my Jr./Sr. high school, I'd encouraged and witnessed my colleagues putting their names and classes up, in a small way, on either one of the two charts I'd created for our two teachers' rooms, but the truth was that nobody was actually visiting the classrooms that teachers put up on the chart/s, and those teachers, in turn, weren't visiting their colleagues' classrooms either (the entire point of a Pineapple Chart!) I began wondering what I could do to jumpstart folks' intrinsic motivation to visit each other's classrooms to learn from each other, and, in turn, to improve their own teaching. I finished with two upgraded Pineapple Charts; an improved understanding about the relevant factors at play; and renewed motivation, myself, to continue my journey as a teacher leader.

 Stephanie N. Marcotte  Holyoke Community College

Supporting New Union Leaders and Preventing Union Leader Burnout in Higher Education Locals

We are the union! However, when we find ourselves in union leadership roles for the first time, it can be easy to burnout. With an increase in responsibilities and pressure, leaders (especially new leaders) need to have scaffolds in place so that they feel supported. This capstone focuses on the need and creation of leadership scaffolds within higher education locals to support all incoming union leaders.

Deb McCarthy Hull

Open Bargaining and the Fund Our Future Campaign

My project highlighted how Hull used the process of Open Bargaining to connect with the Fund Our Future Campaign here in Massachusetts. We were able to connect many of our collective bargaining issues to the “Schools our Communities Deserve” and we were able to create a collective investment around Funding All Schools.

 Kristen McGonagle   Kingston

Early Literacy Development and Instruction in the Classroom

For my capstone I focused on the Early Literacy Development and Instruction in the Classroom. I worked to create professional development, resources, and ideas for teachers that work to increase conversation and vocabulary through interactive read alouds that focus on Social Emotional Learning themes and vocabulary. I also worked hard to implement a change in the amount of meaningful discourse that students have in the cafeteria. I implemented "Table Talks" and "Conversation Cues" on the cafeteria tables and I also provide PD and instructions for the teachers and the purpose behind it.

Nicholas Ristaino Hamilton

Building the Union Through Conversations and Action

My capstone project was to build my Association through regular meetings, to discuss issues and solutions with my colleagues, and then pursue the actions necessary to enact those solutions. One example was a significant concern over license renewal which lead to setting up a license renewal training for my membership.

Gregory Shea  East Bridgewater

Leading from Behind: Increasing Membership Engagement through Rank-and-File Action\

This portfolio outlines and reflects on the process of using rank-and-file collective action to address a workplace challenge in a 7-12 high school. It charts the steps taken to identify the problem, communicate with membership to identify the core issues, and use an escalating campaign of collective action to address those issues.


Jocelyn Tallis Southbridge

Capstone 2019

The subject of my Capstone Portfolio was beginning my journey to transform from a Union board member into a Union President. I really enjoyed learning about the Union and what it did for its members. I wanted to be a bigger part, so I did.

Kimberly Durley Dennis Yarmouth

Bringing Quality PD to Cape Cod

This project is aimed at bringing inexpensive, quality PD to all teachers on Cape Cod. Too many times PD is not quality, expensive and too far to travel to, therefore I wanted to bring PD to educators. I also wanted to grow the capacity of educators, especially those of marginalized communities, as leaders, working collaboratively to create and give sessions that are important to the educators here through a social justice lens. This PD will create a sense of community and have lasting effects on educators, students, parents and the community.

TLI 2017-2018

Capstone Projects from TLI 2017-2018 Fellows

Contact Participant to view completed Capstone Portfolio.

Name Local Association Capstone Project
Ann Davis-Allan Marblehead

Facilitation of Teacher Mindfulness Book/Study Group

My Capstone Project was the facilitation of a book/study group for teachers in my district. The group included eight to ten teachers from various schools in the Marblehead School District. The book we read was “Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom” by Patricia A. Jennings.  I used various protocols from the School Reform Initiative website to facilitate our meaningful and relevant text-based discussions. We met monthly throughout the school year.  I am now a certified Mindfulness Teacher through Inward Bound Mindfulness Education and my commitment to help public schools embrace mindfulness practices for our students - continues to deepen.  My Capstone experience was very worthwhile and my hope is that schools will realize and embrace the value of Mindfulness. I am now teaching a health elective at Marblehead High School entitled Mindfulness 101 and getting great feedback from my students.

William Candler Middleboro

Going 'All In' in Middleboro

Elizabeth Correia Fall River

Establishing Joint Labor-Management Committees for Change

Using the collective bargaining agreement as a vehicle to increase member engagement and teacher voice in district decision-making, through the creation of joint labor management committees.

Michael DiClemente Medford

Engaging New Members

I chose to focus on engaging new members for my TLI capstone project. This project allowed me to move from my classroom and transition into a teacher-leader. During the project, I helped establish a New Teacher Liaison position and New Member Committee. We worked on better communication and connection with new members. We held events for new members to allow them the opportunity to grow and ask questions. I believe my project set a great foundation in my district and I look forward to continuing to grow our opportunities for new members.

Rebecca Harvey Nashoba

Local MTA Association Website Development”

The Nashoba Regional School District union president was concerned about the fact that the only means of communication with the membership was through the district email. There were no social media accounts, no website. They didn’t even have a database with information on the members, where they worked or how to reach them. I was able to do a member survey to collect information, create a database and build methods of communication that included a website, space for a presidential blog, social media accounts and more. My work with the Teacher Leadership Institute gave the leaders and members of the NRSD union the ability to communicate without feeling the pressure of being on school-owned emails and platforms.

Christine Mulroney Framingham

Supporting Our Families through Parent Teacher Home Visits

Building member voice through advocating for parent teacher home visits. This fosters positive parent/school relationships and improves understanding of the relationship between the school and the community.

Audrey Murph-Brown Springfield

Increasing the Engagement of Members of Color (ALANA) in the Springfield Educators Association

Manes Pierre Holyoke

Advocating for Culturally-Relevant Schools

Elizabeth Pruett Marblehead

Breakfast and Book

Jessica Smith-Rohrberg MBCC

Increasing Inquiry-Driven and Student-Centered Introductory Biology Labs

Andrea Stavrakas Wellesley

The Training, Evaluating and Utilizing Support Staff

Pilot Year Three

Capstone Projects from Pilot Year Three Fellows

Contact Participant to view completed Capstone Portfolio.

Name Local Association Capstone Project
Karen Albano Agawam Using Student Portfolios in Teacher Evaluation Systems
Jeffrey Bartlett Danvers EdCamp Danvers
Christina Brayfield Arlington Physical Education and the School Enrollment Crisis in Arlington, MA
Maureen Devlin Wayland Shared Teaching and Learning: Building a Collaborative Culture
Lynn Howard Weymouth Developing Mathematical Mindsets
Sarah Kempesty Agawam Young Author’s Portfolio Project
Meghan Michaud Andover A+ Peers
David Moore Arlington STEAM/Maker-Space Initiative, Arts Advocacy and School Redesign/Rebuild
Debra Rainha Andover A+ Peers
Maria Skiffington Medford Teaching the Way Kindergarteners Learn
Shannon White West Springfield Improving Inclusion through Communication and Understanding
Alice Yabe Haverhill Empty Bowls Benefit
Ivelisse Lescano Springfield High-Stakes Testing and ELL Students
Claudia Palframan Chicopee Creating a Strategic or Long Range Plan for the School Libraries in Chicopee
Lisa Sarno Springfield Testing and Shadow Bargaining
Giuseppina Stellato Springfield High-Stakes Testing and English Language Learners
Marco Basiliere Tewksbury Streamlining Initiatives
Lisa Begley Haverhill Strength in Solidarity
Chandler Creedon Franklin Insights from Horace Mann
Kara Dougherty Berkshire The Road to Leadership
Julie Minahan Rockland Increased Communication Through Technology
Lauren Smith Holyoke Organizing the Association to get the Schools Our Students Deserve

Pilot Year Two

Capstone Projects from Pilot Year Two Fellows 

Contact Participant to view completed Capstone Portfolio.

Name Local Association Capstone Project
Karla Anderson Cambridge

Math in Focus Curriculum Support

I designed, built, implemented and provided training for the new K-Lo Math Academy. There is now a link on the school website for students, families and the district community at large to access. On the site there are videos explaining the common core standards for each grade (although we are starting with Grade Four). These videos were student created (see Attachment J). The goal was, student to student learning, along with increased family support through a route they stated they are most comfortable with at this time. Students filmed videos using Explain Everything ( showing their thinking and giving a tutorial on grade level math skills based on the CCSS and the Math in Focus curriculum. The school community and eventually the district at large have access to this online academy (Grade Four only) by the fall of 2015.

Susan Barry Norwood

Collaborative Technology Integration

Kimberly Bothwell Randolph

School Time for Intervention Strategies

Wendi Cantoreggi Millis

More and Better Learning Time Schedule

Sara Colum Revere

Building Repertoires of Lessons and Collaborative Support

Rebecca Correa Greater Lowell

Summer Reading Program

Brenda Dunn Springfield


My capstone project was to bring an Edcamp/Unconference to Western MA educators. I identified the need for teacher-directed and teacher-led professional development in my district, experienced an Edcamp, and knew it was the answer! Interestingly, my “plan” did not materialize exactly as I had outlined, but instead has taken a life of its own! Individual buildings in Springfield, as well as several of our middle schools are utilizing the model, and teachers are raving about how empowering it feels.

Sarah Floyd Barnstable

Creating Intervention Blocks

Tracy Higgins Fairhaven

Increasing District’s Frequency & Building Rigor of Writing

Michele Lippens Cambridge

Expanding Next Generation Learning, Social Media & Tech

Jennifer Maio Groton Dunstable

Expanding a Culture of Literacy

Dawn Martens Randolph

District Determined Measures

Laura Mullen Hudson

Family Reading Night

Blythe Purdin Nahant

Create a Teacher-Led Professional Learning Community

Robert Erlandsen Cohasset

Holding a local community forum to identify the characteristics parents and teachers want in their schools

Following the model of "Schools our Community Deserves," I organized a local forum for parents on Kingston, MA to help identify the qualities they wanted to see in their local schools. Parents attending were split into small groups with a teacher facilitator to record their ideas. Various topics of safety, academics, etc... were used as prompts. Administrators were present as well as local elected officials to take part and hear the needs of the community. A report summarizing the results was shared with school staff and administration.

Julie Ferreira Taunton

District Determined Measures

Mary Foyle Lunenburg

Policy that will Better Benefit Students

Lorie Banks Holyoke

Fostering Collaboration between Staff and Administration

Elizabeth Hegarty Dedham

Bridging Communication Gap between Board & Members

Kelsey Holbrook Rockland

Create an Atmosphere that Fosters & Empowers Creativity

James Kobialka Worcester

Engaging Members

Lamikco Magee Springfield

Cultural Proficiency Challenge

Nikki Murphy Georgetown

Joining the Negotiation Team

Pilot Year One