Rachel Willis is an award winning educator with over a decade of experience teaching and leading in K-12 and graduate level settings. Named the 2009 Atlanta Public Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year and 2010 Milken Educator Award recipient, Rachel served on Governor Nathan Deal’s (R-GA) Education Advisory Board and was appointed as a trustee to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia.
At the time of her award, Rachel was a third-grade teacher looping with her second-grade class and overseeing first-rate improvements in student achievement and education reform at Morningside Elementary School in Atlanta, GA. A product herself of Atlanta’s public school system, her return to implement positive change in education came full circle as she inspired the next generation of students to be proactive about the issues and passions they held dear.
Rachel’s teaching was recognized as being both inventive and regimented. She used differentiated instruction in the classroom and created elaborate virtual field trips, such as decorating her classroom to look like the Forum for a unit on democracy in Ancient Greece. A motivated proponent for students and teachers, Rachel was the first teacher at Morningside to apply for a Promethean interactive whiteboard. Once she was provided with one, she successfully lobbied for the technology’s inclusion in all second- through fifth-grade classrooms. During her tenure at Morningside, Rachel trained more than 70 educators on the state's evaluation system, CLassroom Analysis of State Standards (CLASS Keys), and served on the Morningside school design team and PTA advisory committee.
In 2012, Rachel was recruited to redesign a professional development program centered around culturally responsive teaching and race and equity for Teach For America corps members and alumni in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. During this time, Rachel also designed and served as co-instructor of a pilot program at Columbia University’s Teachers College; preparing current and aspiring principals to lead racially equitable schools.
Building off of her experience designing and facilitating learning experiences, Rachel founded Elevating Equity to create spaces for educators and community members to examine race and ensure every child receives an equitable education. Since its launch, Elevating Equity has designed and facilitated anti-racism workshops for over 1500 educators and conducted in equity audits of schools in New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. To date, Elevating Equity has impacted the education of over 27,000 students nationwide.
Rachel received a B.A. from Smith College in Government and an Ed.M. in Education Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. She currently resides in Atlanta.
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