Supporting Schools, Supporting Teachers:

New Grant Program Invests in Great Ideas for High-Quality Teacher Retention and Recruitment

As part of our North Star – ensuring every kid graduates from high school college and career-ready – Opportunity 180 invests in great schools and educators providing educational experiences that give students a foundation for their success. 

A major challenge that schools face today is an ongoing teacher shortage, and moreover, a shortage of teachers a TNTP study calls “Irreplaceables.” According to the study, “Teachers of this caliber provide more engaging learning experiences for students and help them achieve five to six more months of learning each year than students of low-performing teachers – academic results that can be life-changing.” 

Therefore, to further the pipeline of quality teachers in Clark County and build the conditions that support and strengthen them, we are thrilled to announce four grants totaling nearly $500,000 to be used specifically to recruit and retain high-quality teachers, with an emphasis on ensuring more teachers represent the backgrounds of their students and cultivating more “Irreplaceables” right here in Southern Nevada. The grants begin this summer. 

“This is the first time Opportunity 180 has awarded these types of grants, and we are so proud to do so with four of our partner schools: Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, Futuro Academy, Nevada Rise Academy, and TEACH Las Vegas,” said Jana Wilcox Lavin, CEO of Opportunity 180. “These grants will be specifically directed towards initiatives that give educators and school leaders the resources they need to teach effectively, stay in Nevada schools, and help our kids graduate from high school college and career-ready.”

These four schools are located in economically disadvantaged areas of the Las Vegas Valley where the majority are students of color, underscoring the importance of ensuring teachers represent their student populations. A recent discussion at Brookings Institution’s Brown Center for Education Policy noted that diversity can be a “critical element of a quality education,” and, “one of the ways to close long-standing race-based achievement gaps is to expose more students to teachers who look like them.” Working to intentionally address representation and voice will impact academic outcomes for these students, making it an important focus for teacher retention and recruitment efforts in these historically marginalized communities. 

To cultivate these high-performing learning and working environments, the grantees will incorporate new, as well as tried and tested, ways to recruit, develop, and retain high-quality teachers at their campuses, including:

  • Creating and incubating an induction and mentoring program to promote growth and development of teachers early in their teaching careers. 
  • Connecting instructional design opportunities through peer mentoring, classroom observations and feedback, coaching on formative assessments, and case/lesson studies on instructional design
  • Providing additional pathways for teachers to be cultivated into administrative and leadership roles
  • Engaging staff in various professional development opportunities, including coaching, curricula development, and a mini-residency program
  • Providing performance-based retention incentives to teachers
  • Working with organizations to set aside time for dedicated time on a regular basis for educators to help formalize development tools and programs geared towards collaboration

Creating conditions for great teachers to stay in classrooms and cultivate engaging learning experiences and environments is a critical piece to improving student outcomes, as well as ensuring that teachers represent their student populations. These grants will pilot retention strategies that keep our “Irreplaceables” in the classroom, demonstrating firsthand that great teachers and great ideas make way for great schools and better student outcomes.

Congratulations to Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, Futuro Academy, Nevada Rise Academy, and TEACH Las Vegas on this exciting funding opportunity. Stay tuned for more updates on these programs as we share learnings, progress, and outcomes!

Opportunity 180 Partners with Surge Institute to Launch Program in Southern Nevada

The Surge Academy, a national program that develops, elevates, and unites leaders of color within the education and youth-serving space, will be expanding to two new cities in 2022: Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

Designed by the Surge Institute, the Surge Academy program provides an intensive leadership experience, packed with powerful content that explores executive skills such as finance, strategic planning, and change management. In addition, throughout the program, fellows engage in a deep and unflinching dialogue about personal growth, trauma, and the true state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the United States.

Mathew Mauricio Rojas (IND ‘21), an alum of the program and Assistant Professor of Practice at Relay Graduate School of Education, shares what he gained.

“Because of my experience with the Surge Academy, I now am a fuller version of myself,” Rojas said. “I feel confident in my leadership and don’t feel like I am asking for permission to be who I am becoming. I am now surrounded by people who believe in me and see me for who I was, am, and hope to be and know they will be there to support me.”

In September, thanks to a partnership with Opportunity 180, Surge will also start recruitment for a Las Vegas Surge Academy, which will develop, elevate and unite leaders in the city, as well as all of Clark County, Nevada.

“In an ongoing effort to strengthen and accelerate the pipeline of education leaders who represent the diversity of Southern Nevada, we are thrilled to partner with the Surge Institute team to provide the opportunity to launch the Las Vegas Surge Academy,” said Jana Wilcox Lavin, CEO of Opportunity 180. “The Academy is a momentous step forward in building out the region’s educational ecosystem to better reflect that diversity, and will have a significant impact on students, families, and our community.”

Originally launched in Kansas City, the six-month fellowship has grown into a signature program of the Surge Institute. To date, the Surge Academy has graduated three cohorts, two in Kansas City and one in Indianapolis respectively, totaling 44 leaders who have transitioned into Surge’s National Alumni Network of more than 200 leaders of color. More recently the Academy has kicked off a new cohort in Indianapolis and launched a new fellowship experience in Washington D.C.

Upon graduating from the Surge Academy, fellows maintain a deep connection to the Surge national movement, united in the purpose of building an equitable future for communities of color.

To learn more about applying to the Surge Academy, visit the Surge Academy homepage. Applications for the Las Vegas cohort will open in the fall.

Sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter and follow the Surge Institute and Surge Academy on social media to stay informed about upcoming events, news, and related developments.

About The Surge Institute:

The Surge Institute is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established with a simple but important mission to develop and elevate leaders of color who create transformative change for children, families, and communities. Founded by Carmita Semaan in 2014, the organization was designed to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience. To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit:

Design to Edrupt: Fellowship program helps educators turn ideas into action with a mission toward equity

To bring the change that our kids deserve, it takes a team of dedicated leaders who are willing to shift the standard approach to learning. 

Engaging students in thinking big about new learning experiences during Student Design Day

To further support educators across the  fifth most diverse and dynamic school district in the nation, Opportunity 180 launched a new fellowship that will provide focused support to five underrepresented educational leaders across Clark County, with a goal to launch new learning environments for students. The combination of diverse leadership and the build out of equity-based learning models through this fellowship will help to launch new schools, modify the current education environments, and provide new opportunities for educators, students, and their families. 

The 2022 Explore Cohort for the inaugural “Design to Edrupt” fellowship was built from Moonshot edVentures which was designed and launched in Denver, CO in 2017. The fellowship is an investment in educational design, and presents new strategies for learning while aiming to ground these approaches in the needs of students and families. 

Following the main core values of the fellowship—respect, trust, love, equity, collaboration, and paying it forward—fellows will experiment with learning environments they co-create with students and families, in order to design a new school or an internal program for students in Clark County. The participants chosen are among teachers, school administrators, and nonprofit members from across the county.

“Fellows will use the liberatory approach to design-thinking and listen to what students and families need,” said Tamara Shear, Senior Director of Great Schools Portfolio. “(They will) use this practice to design a learning environment that meets those needs and disrupts the traditional education system.”

The liberatory approach is an equity-centered practice that creates opportunities for the equity practitioner and the designers. Together, they will build skill sets that will enable them to develop a new approach to designing learning environments. Some of those examples include practicing empathy and problem-solving to help others understand their equity values, awareness, and reflecting on the impact of one’s beliefs and biases. 

The fellows for the program were selected based on the following criteria: Entrepreneurial Mindset, People Leadership, Strategic and Operational Leadership, and Instructional Leadership. Fellows also will have access and opportunities to connect with local leaders that are interested in supporting them on their journey to launch their  school program or learning environment. 

We are honored to announce the 2022 Explore Cohort for the Design to Edrupt Fellowship: 

Cece Rice – Principal and Business Owner

Venture: Educators of Color Alliance (Educator Support Program) ∙ Projected Launch Date: June 2022 ∙ Grade Level(s) Served: Educators in years 3-5 of their career ∙ Target Geography: Las Vegas Valley

Cesserly Rice is the current principal at Nevada Rise Academy in Las Vegas, with a Masters in Educational Administration. She served in several leadership capacities over the past six years, including K-8 instructional coach, director of achievement, and assistant principal. She also worked with a local Alternate Route to Licensure program that prepares aspiring educators to fill roles as teachers across the Las Vegas Valley. Through this work, CeCe discovered her inclination and desire to develop and support educators.

Jeff Hinton – Teacher and Consultant

Venture: Entrepreneurial and Leadership Academy of Las Vegas (Charter School)  ∙ Projected Launch Date: TBD ∙ Grade Level(s) Served: 9-12 ∙ Target Geography: Las Vegas, Nevada

Dr. Jeff Hinton is a blogger, writer, and video content creator. He believes that all students are uniquely special and are capable of learning deeply through relevant, hands-on, student-centered approaches that fosters high cognitive demand, creativity, and a love for learning.

Joseph Orosco – Teacher and Non-Profit Founder

Venture: Warriors of Light Family Inc. (Program) ∙ Launch Date: August 2020 ∙ Grade Level (s) Served: 8-12 ∙ Target Geography: East Las Vegas

Joseph Orosco is the Founder and Executive Director of Warriors of Light Family Inc., in Las Vegas. He is also a Mathematics Teacher at Equipo Academy, where he teaches an Algebra 1 curriculum he created. Joseph completed his Undergrad at Trinity College with a dual B.A. in Urban Studies and Engineering Science, followed by his Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Joseph also serves as a foster parent and received several awards such as SIC Community Award, Coca-Cola Scholar, and NBA Latino Night Awardee.

Kendrick Kumabe – Educator and Business Owner

Venture: Champions Classical Leadership Academy (Private or Charter School) Projected Launch Date: August 2024  Grade Level(s) Served: K-2  Target Geography: North Las Vegas 

With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Kendrick Kumabe is a distinguished member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., a historical association launched by African Americans, and is currently serving as the President of the Nevada African American Administrators and Superintendents Association, Teachers Chapter. 

He is the acclaimed author of “Coaching Young Champions: Social Emotional Learning Considerations for the Virtual/Hybrid Educator”; and is also the founder of Kenzumi Education Consulting, LLC. 

Kendrick is now serving as the President of Superior Substitutes, a Las Vegas based education staffing firm committed to filling critical teacher shortages in underserved communities. 

Mike Taack – Educator and Community Outreach Coordinator

Venture: Western Youth Leadership, Engagement, and Empowerment School (Middle School) ∙ Projected Launch Date: TBD ∙ Grade Level(s) Served: 6-8 ∙ Target Geography: Central Las Vegas

With more than 12 years of experience in the education field, Mike Taack is a graduate of Clark County School District and a two-time graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Before becoming an educator, Mike worked in restaurants and insurance companies. He completed his student teaching at Fremont Professional Development Middle School while working on his Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. He immediately fell in love with both the profession and the neighborhood, and has been at Fremont for nearly all of his career. He has taught English, explorations, publications, and computer science, and has mentored many student teachers and practicum students as a part of Fremont’s unique relationship with professional development schools and UNLV.  

We can’t wait to see what the fellows in partnership with the community design and develop. We are on a journey to learn alongside. If you are interested in learning more about upcoming workshops and cohorts, please visit our website or contact Tamara Shear at

Parent Leadership Team Spotlight: Gratitude

This being the season of gratitude, we wanted to take some time to give thanks to the amazing Parent Leadership Team of Nevada. The group is made up of incredibly passionate parents advocating every day for a better education for our community’s kids. This year they have seen tremendous growth and incredible accomplishments from fighting for internet access for our students to hosting an important conversation about student mental health specifically for the local Spanish-speaking community. Opportunity 180 continues to be grateful for the PLTs passion and commitment.

To shine a light on the group we asked some of its members to fill us in on what they are grateful for this year. Here is what they had to say.

Selene Lozada + Family

Name: Selene Lozada

I am married to a wonderful man and I have three children; Bryan who currently works at a car company, Jordan who is studying at college, and Joshua who is a senior at NSHS.  

I am very grateful to God for allowing me to work at Opportunity 180, an organization that has provided me with all the resources to work with the families of my community. I also feel privileged to lead such a committed and disciplined group as the PLT.  I am proud to be part of a group that is making a change in the school district.  I consider myself to be a very fortunate and blessed woman. 

Nombre: Selene Lozada. 

Estoy casada con un hombre maravilloso y tengo tres hijos; Bryan cual trabaja con una compañía de carros, Jordan quien estudia en la universidad y Joshua quien esta en su ultimo año en NSHS.

Estoy agradecida a dios por dejarme trabajar en “Opportunity 180”, una organización que me me ha proporcionado con recursos para trabajar con familias de la comunidad, También me siento privilegiado de liderar un grupo tan comprometido y disciplinado como los es el PLT. Estoy orgulloso de ser parte de un grupo que esta haciendo un cambio en el distrito escolar. Yo me considero una mujer muy afortunada y bendecida.

Nayeli Mendoza + Family

Name: Nayeli Mendoza

I am the mother of a daughter who is in the 3rd grade.

My husband and I are enormously grateful to the PLT for all the information and support we have received, which helped us feel a part of the community.

Today I am thankful for all of the blessings my family and everyone around me have received, as well as for my health, love, family, and friends.

Nombre: Nayeli Mendoza

Soy mamá de una niña del 3er grado.

Mi esposo y yo estamos enormemente agradecidos con el PLT por toda la información que hemos recibido, así como por el apoyo, cual nos ha ayudado sentirnos una parte de la comunidad.

Y este día estoy agradecida por todas las bendiciones recibidas por mi familia y todos los que me rodean, así como por la salud, el amor, la familia y los amigos

Margarita Guerrero and Luz Y. Mendoza

Name: Margarita Guerrero and Luz Y. Mendoza 

I have 2 children; Emilio who is 20 years old, and Liz who is 16. She is currently in her eleventh year at Ecta school. 

Thank you to the members of the PLT for allowing me to be a part of this amazing group.  I have learned so much and continue to value each achievement that we have accomplished for our community.

Nombre: Margarita Guerrero and Luz Y. Mendoza 

Yo tengo dos hijos , Emilio de 20 años de edad y Liz de 16 años. Ella Corrientemente atiende el 11vo grado en La escuela ECTA.

Gracias a los miembros de PLT por darnos la oportunidad de ser parte de este grupo increíble. Yo he aprendido mucho y continuo valorar cada hazaña que hemos cumplido para nuestra comunidad..

Laura Campos + Family

Name: Laura Campos

I am a full-time mom.  I have 4 children, the youngest is 1-year-old, a 7-year-old girl, a 9-year-old boy. They are all in elementary school, and my oldest son is in his last year of High School.

I thank God for the blessings that he gives me every day; my health, well-being, my family and friends

I am thankful for this great group, the PLT, who are parent volunteers and strive for a better education for their children and all the students of our city.

Nombre: Laura Campos

Soy una madre de tiempo completo. Tengo 4 hijos, el mas joven de 1 año de edad, una niña de 7 años de edad y un niño de 9 años. Todos atienden la escuela primaria. Mi hijo mayor esta en su último año de la escuela secundaria.

Le doy gracias a dios por todas las bendiciones que él nos da cada día; Mi salud, mi bien estar, mi familia y amigos.

Estoy agradecida por este gran grupo, El PLT, quienes son parientes voluntaries cuales luchan por una mejor educación para sus hijos y todos lose estudiantes de nuestra ciudad.

Mayela Camarena + Family

Name: Mayela Camarena

Mother of 4 children. 

Happy, honored, and very grateful to God for allowing me to be a mother, wife, and entrepreneur in my own home. It allows me to be consistently present in the lives of those I love the most.  

Grateful to the PLT for giving me the opportunity to work for those in need while learning at the same time.

Nombre: Mayela Camarena

Madre de cuatro niños.

Contenta, honrada y muy agradecida a dios por dejarme ser una madre, esposa y empresaria en mi propio hogar. Me deja estar consistentemente presente en la vida de los cuales amo más.

Estoy agradecida al PLT por darme la oportunidad de trabajar por los necesitados mientras a la ves yo aprendo.  

Ana González + Family

Name: Ana González

I have eight children, four of whom are students of the school district.  

I am grateful to the PLT because a lot of very important information gets to the community through our work.  My wish is that more parents will join the PLT and together we can change our school district.  I believe that the information we provide has been very valuable and will help many parents work with their children. 

On a personal note, I am very proud of each of my children and their desire for a better education. I am very happy about all the opportunities that God gave me during this year. 

Nombre: Ana González

Tengo ocho ninos, cuatro estan en el distrito.

Estoy agradecida al PLT porque mucha información llegue así a la comunidad a través de nuestro trabajo. Mi deseo es que mas parientes se unan al PLT y juntos podemos hacer cambios en nuestro distrito escolar. Yo creo que la información que proveemos ha sido de mucho valor y va ayudar muchos parientes trabajar con sus hijos. A un nivel personal, estoy muy orgulloso de cada uno de mis hijos y sus deseos de obtener una mejor educación. Estoy muy orgullosa de todas las oportunidades que dios me ha dado este año.

Yesenia Gonzales + Family

Name: Yesenia Gonzales

I am the very proud mother of 3 sons who are my reason for advocating as hard as I do.  David who is a junior will be 17 years old on Thanksgiving Day and loves to help his peers in school and started his own support group in his high school and plans to work in Forensics or be a Firefighter. Benjamin, who is in 7th grade, is 13 years old and loves Tanks and military vehicles, his dream is to one day join the Army and be a Tank engineer. My youngest, Matthew who’s in 6th grade and just turned 12 years old and is my special needs son with Autism, loves the solar system and anatomy and would love to be a Meteorologist or an Astronomer when he grows up.

I joined the PLT a little over a year ago after I saw that there was a need to help families in our community and advocate for them. First and foremost, I am grateful to God for helping me beat cancer and never giving up.  As a cancer survivor, this has given me these days which I cherish to be here for my children, they have also given me the strength to fight as hard as I do, not just for them, but also for others.  I firmly believe that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I can attest to that.  I am also grateful for my PLT team and new friends, that although we may be small, we are mighty and have accomplished monumental things to help families in our community.

Nombre: Yesenia Gonzales

Soy la madre muy orgullosa de 3 hijos que son mi razón para luchar con fuerza como lo hago. 
David, que es un estudiante de tercer año, cumplirá 17 años el Día de Acción de Gracias y le encanta ayudar a sus compañeros en la escuela y comenzó su propio grupo de apoyo en su escuela secundaria y planea trabajar en medicina forense o ser bombero.  Benjamín, que está en séptimo grado, tiene 13 años y ama los tanques y los vehículos militares, su sueño es un día unirse al ejército y ser ingeniero de tanques.  Mi hijo menor, Matthew, que está en sexto grado y acaba de cumplir 12 años y es mi hijo con necesidades especiales con autismo, ama el sistema solar y la anatomía y le encantaría ser meteorólogo o astrónomo cuando crezca. 

Me uní al PLT hace poco más de un año después de ver que era necesario ayudar a las familias de nuestra comunidad y defenderlas. En primer lugar, estoy agradecido con Dios por ayudarme a vencer el cáncer y nunca rendirme.  Como sobreviviente de cáncer, esto me ha dado estos días que amo estar aquí para mis hijos, también me han dado la fuerza para luchar tan duro como lo hago, no solo por ellos, sino también por los demás.  Creo firmemente que “lo que no te mata te hace más fuerte” y puedo dar fe de ello. También estoy agradecido por mi equipo de PLT y nuevos amigos, que aunque seamos pequeños, somos poderosos y hemos logrado cosas monumentales.  para ayudar a las familias de nuestra comunidad.

If you are interested in joining the PLT or want to learn more, be sure to join their group on Facebook.

Continue reading “Parent Leadership Team Spotlight: Gratitude”

What Kids Deserve with Billions of Federal Dollars for Nevada Education

Opportunity 180 is committed to a community North Star where every kid in Nevada is able to graduate from high school, college and career ready, with the tools to determine their own future. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges facing Nevada’s students, especially those with the least access to quality schools. However, the recently passed American Rescue Plan will deliver nearly 1.5 billion dollars in one-time funds to support our students and schools. This is a crucial moment for Nevada to reshape its education landscape, make sustainable policy improvements, and set ourselves on a path for educational excellence. That is why Opportunity 180, along with more than a dozen leading education organizations, published a letter detailing several high-impact areas to guide the use of federal dollars across public education in Nevada. Opportunity 180 is also committed to transparent and accessible data that drive further discussion, policy, and action to improve outcomes for kids. To that end, we believe it is necessary to have clear and detailed outcomes for the impact of these federal funds. We will look to track and report on the following metrics to ensure we are effectively moving the needle when it comes to improving education opportunities for our community’s kids.

Flexible Implementation
  • Annual school and school district budgets are balanced prior to the allocation of federal dollars and posted for public review.  
  • District-wide activities allow for a site-based implementation based on community needs and student data. 
Equity-Focused Academic Supports to Close Learning Gaps 
  • Students who are the furthest behind as of the end of SY20-21 will grow a minimum of 1.5 years per year; all of the other students will grow at least 1 year, per year SY21-22 and SY22-23
  • % of students who take advantage of summer school and out-of-school time learning opportunities. 
  • Student achievement differences between students classified as “at-risk” and those classified as not at risk decrease by at least 25%.
Caring for the Whole Child
  • Increase in % of students who have access to on-demand mental health services.
  • Increase in % of school building staff trained in recognizing and supporting students who may be grieving or have experienced trauma. 
  • Decrease in # of student suicides and students who report thinking of suicide.
Safe and Secure In-person Learning Environments
  • % of students who identify they feel safe in their learning environment. 
  • % of staff who share they feel safe in their work environment. 
  • % increase of teachers retained in SYs 21-23. 
Support for Remote Learning
  • The total number of families who request access to remote instruction have access to the tools and resources necessary to successfully participate in learning. 
  • % of educators who share they have been provided meaningful, rigorous, practicable professional learning on the successful delivery of remote instruction. 
Family and Community Communication and Connection
  • % of families who indicate they feel clear on their students’ educational opportunities (remote and in-person).

This one-time infusion of funds is an incredible opportunity to make lasting change for Nevada’s students and we are eager to continue to engage in meaningful dialogue with our local and state leaders to help shape the impact. This is a community-wide challenge and deserves community-centered solutions– which start with being clear and consistent about what is working and what is not. In partnership with our colleagues, we will push for transparency throughout the process through regular reporting, accurate data, and trackable results, all of which should be made readily available to Nevada families. Separately, Opportunity 180 will also monitor and publish available results against the metrics listed above. 

Education and our kids’ future is a community priority so be sure to check out our regularly published Nevada Ed-Watch series designed to increase access to information about what decisions are being made regarding public education in Nevada. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things Nevada education and help us navigate this new normal together.

Nevadans Must Unite Over Values in Education

The future is the only thing that stands in front of you that you cannot see. We can, however, inform it. We can define it. We can make sure that the future glows brightly for generations to come.  Since March 13, however, it hasn’t felt like that. In fact, the future of Nevada’s education system and economy have felt more fragile and uncertain than they have in over a decade.

Under normal circumstances, the first day of school would include students standing at bus stops and butterflies flapping in their stomachs as they see their new classroom and start a new stage in their young lives. We would be smiling with pride and maybe choking back tears of joy as our kindergarteners and seniors set off to start the first days of the rest of their lives. Instead, we’re missing many of these things. Meanwhile the impacts of school closures cascade beyond empty buildings and classes administered electronically.

Preliminary national estimates of the impact of school building closures on learning retention suggest that students will have lost 30% of gains made in a traditional year, and anywhere from 50% to a full year of gains in mathematics when returning to school in Fall 2020.

With increasing regularity, I have been asked: “What can we do to make sure kids continue to learn? How do we ‘fix’ the impact of this global pandemic on teaching and learning?”

As we’ve seen in the public discourse, both locally and nationally, there are many possible answers to those questions. 

Many of us have been focused on tackling solutions that feel solvable. More computers, better connectivity, stronger online curriculum.  All of these things are necessary, and their availability is lacking—but let’s be clear: those solutions solve for one moment in time. 

If the past several months have taught us anything, I hope it’s that we need to make foundational changes to the organization of our systems—education being chief among them— not minor adjustments.

What the Nevada education system needs is an articulation of its values.

Do we value education as the great equalizer for poverty and opportunity? Do we value education as the critical primer for a diversified, long-term economy? Do we value education as day care for kids while their families work? Do we value education at all? If so, how? 

Previous legislative efforts have appropriately focused on funding education. There have been mixed reviews on the efforts, but the most significant missing piece is funding to what end. What do we expect to be true when we provide additional funding? Does the State’s education budget reflect our values? 

Right now, as a state, evidence indicates that we don’t really know the answer to these questions. That’s problematic. And yet, there is hope. 

We may not agree on everything, but I believe we can come together to decide on where we want to be after the pandemic and well-beyond it. We can decide how to interpret data and to make decisions against a set of values that are consistent. We can decide, collaboratively, on what we want our futures to look like. We can commit that during the next national or global crisis, we will not be given the honor of the state most economically impacted. Instead, we will re-align our actions in K-12 education to a value of economic sustainability. We will work towards a clear, common goal, even in the face of setbacks. We will work through challenging disagreements with a clear focus on what we have committed to ourselves and to each other. 

The challenges we are facing are vast, but not insurmountable.  Let’s commit to a set of values that articulate what must be true for our children’s education. Then, let’s write a plan for our future that aligns with those values. 

After that comes the hard part. 

We have to live by the values that we define and make decisions in alignment with them. We have to stay the course. We may not see the benefits next week or next year, but we will set the foundation for a long-term shift in education, our economy, and the story of our future. More importantly, we’ll finally be putting our students first, not just in words, but also in action.

Jana Wilcox Lavin, Executive Director of Opportunity 180

What are you looking forward to the most this school year?

Teacher leaders in our partner Fellowship programs are gearing up for the new school year and planning ways to apply their newly developed skills in their classrooms. Below, we capture some of their reflections.


Q: What are you looking forward to the most this school year?

Anthony Mooney, Lead Nevada Fellow: This year I am looking forward to watching a new school, Nevada Prep, come to life. I am also looking forward to helping new teachers develop into effective educators and delivering effective instruction that raises student achievement.

Kenny Belknap, Teach Plus Fellow: This should be a busy year between teaching a new class and working on my Teach Plus work. I’m excited to share the knowledge I gain with my students.

Jordana McCudden, Teach Plus Fellow: As a consulting teacher, I’ll have the opportunity to work side by side with brand new teachers, helping them navigate the complexities of teaching.

Stevie Johnson, Lead Nevada Fellow: I am most looking forward to  starting at a new school, Nevada Rise. I am excited about working with new staff, students and curriculum as grade chair lead.

Jen Loescher, Teach Plus Fellow: This school year is bursting with exciting opportunities for learning– about Nevada education policy, how to improve my craft of teaching, and building new relationships with my new role at RPDP.

Richard Wiley, Teach Plus Fellow: I look forward to making a significant, positive impact on the lives of each of my students. It will require leveraging every available resource and maximizing human capital to its fullest extent to improve our high schools.

Mary Ardoin: Lead Nevada Fellow: This year I am most looking forward to helping our new teachers create and implement a vision of excellence for themselves and students.

Jeanine Zelik, Teach Plus Fellow: Every year I look forward to creating relationships with students. I am fortunate to watch my former students continue their educational journey and help them achieve their goals as they look at their future post-graduation.

Justin Brecht, Building Excellent Schools Fellow & Founder of Nevada Rise:  I look forward to the vision of Nevada Rise becoming a reality. Most importantly, I look forward to delivering on the promise we have made to each individual family as we begin the our journey on the path to college.

Mary Enwemaya, Lead Nevada Fellow: I’m looking forward to better understanding how to align the new state (MAP) testing to advance student learning and adjust to their needs and desires.

Q: How will your Fellowship program help you achieve your objectives and make a bigger impact?

Anthony Mooney, Lead Nevada Fellow: Lead Nevada Academy has given me the knowledge, skills and abilities to be successful through participation in rigorous coaching and role play activities that have driven me to develop and hone specific skills.

Kenny Belknap, Teach Plus Fellow: The Teach Plus Fellowship is providing me with the tools I need to help elevate my voice and learn the several different paths available to make change or influence policy makers.

Jordana McCudden, Teach Plus Fellow: At Teach Plus, I have gained an understanding of the “how” and “why” behind education policy. Celine Coggins, founder of Teach Plus, says if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. I am now ready to sit at the table with stakeholders in affecting the change I feel will directly impact student achievement and teacher retention.

Stevie Johnson, Lead Nevada Fellow: Since my school will be new and we will have a small staff, there are many opportunities to take on leadership roles. Lead Nevada Academy will help provide me with the framework and skills to develop me as a leader.

Jen Loescher, Teach Plus Fellow: Teach Plus has provided a concrete platform to learn about education policy and how to advocate and get my voice to the table.  My confidence has grown, helping me choose to step outside my comfort zones and grow my network.

Richard Wiley, Teach Plus Fellow: The Teach Plus Fellowship keeps me apprised about what other schools in Nevada are doing to continually improve, and provides a vehicle for professional collaboration opportunities with high quality educators in other districts.

Mary Ardoin, Lead Nevada Fellow: Lead Nevada Academy is already a part of my achievement, as I realized during our summer work that the best way to prepare teachers for success is to first help them envision what a high achieving classroom will look like. Then, provide them the tools that will help them accomplish their goals.

Jeanine Zelik, Teach Plus Fellow: This fellowship allows me to dive deeper into the issues happening within education in Nevada, not only Clark County. It also allows me to help better educate and explain the status of particular issues without bias, just a deeper understanding of what is going on.

Justin Brecht, Building Excellent Schools Fellow & Founder of Nevada Rise: The BES Fellowship helps keep my focus on the principles of our mission, and the details that will help drive toward meeting the mission. Our partnership with BES ensures we implement precise practice and feedback on many levels and provides a strong network of support.

Mary Enwemaya, Lead Nevada Fellow: Lead Nevada Academy will allow me to look through dual lenses, as a classroom instructor and administrator. On the micro level, I can engage with data in my classroom by looking at individual students and focus their glows and growths. On a macro level, as an administrator, I hope to gain an overview of trends from K-2 and understand the shifts that occur in instruction, data, etc.


Wishing each of our program Fellows, and ALL Nevada educators, a strong start to a new school year!

Teacher Voice Matters

The greatest way to show teachers appreciation is to give them a seat at the table.

Teachers, those closest to student learning, are positioned to hold a powerful seat at the table in decision-making that impacts their students and their profession. Teacher-powered solutions are an essential force to drive improvements that work for students– which is why Opportunity 180 partnered with Teach Plus to expand their high-impact Policy Fellowship to Nevada. The first Nevada cohort of 20 Fellows are building their professional networks, receiving training to understand how policy shapes their classrooms, and collaborating on well-designed solutions.

The Teach Plus Policy Fellowship as a pathway for teachers to have a voice in policy decisions: 

The Policy Fellowship enables excellent teachers to expand their influence in policy without leaving the classroom. Fellows develop their expertise by building their knowledge and skills to impact leadership opportunities and voice solutions that inform decision-making at the district and state level.

Read some of the voices of Teach Plus Nevada:

By listening to the collective wisdom of teachers and by embracing research-based policies that teachers know work in practice, schools can refocus on achieving the goals of public education on which our pluralistic democracy depends. -Adam Urbanski (via EdWeek)

We are excited to continue to see the Teach Plus Fellows, and all teachers, demonstrate their excellence and expertise to support student success and strengthen the teaching profession to deliver for kids.


Design, found & lead a charter school of uncompromising excellence in Las Vegas.

Apply today or nominate an aspiring charter school leader to BES!

Follow the links below to apply, nominate, connect, or learn more about launching a charter school through The BES Fellowship.

Building Excellent Schools (BES) is committed to improving academic achievement by training leaders to take on the demanding and urgent work of leading high-achieving, urban public charter schools.

Through The BES Fellowship, highly motivated individuals participate in a rigorous, yearlong training that prepares them to design, found, and lead a high-performing public charter school. At the end of The Fellowship year, BES Fellows apply to establish their own independent charter school—customized to the needs of its community.

Fellows receive a stipend, benefits, extensive training, and support throughout the intensive first year. After The Fellowship year, they receive additional assistance and coaching as they guide their schools through startup and early operation.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. BES offers a $5,000 finder’s fee for nominated candidates who receive and accept an offer to join The Fellowship. 

Connect with a recruiter

Nominate a Fellow

Learn more about The Fellowship


Building Excellent School Charter School Leader with Student

“During the Fellowship year with BES, we visited and studied 40 schools in 10 regions across the country. These school studies played an instrumental role in refining our vision for academics and school culture. The Fellowship also provided training and support in critical areas such as building a strong school board, writing a winning charter application, and hiring teachers who will prepare all our students for high school, college, and life.”

-David Blodgett, 2016 Nevada BES Fellow & Founder of The Nevada Prep Charter School

To see the full list of Opportunity 180 teacher leader development pathways, click here.

Ryan Fellows are the nation’s next generation of highly-effective school principals.

Want to be a School Leader? Apply to The Ryan Fellowship!

Accelerate Institute’s Ryan Fellowship is a 3-year leadership development program for new principals. Ryan Fellows undergo a rigorous selection process and complete a Fellowship year which includes a 4-week Accelerate Summer Institute (in partnership with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University) and a Field Study at a charter school in their region.

The Fellowship year is followed by ongoing training and advisory support during the first two years of principalship.

Next deadline to apply is March 31.
Final deadline is April 27



Quick Links
To hear from Ryan Fellows, click here.
For a detailed fellowship timeline, click here.
For questions about the fellowship, contact Stephanie Shear.
For a full list of Opportunity 180’s talent partnerships, click here.