Plaid Works

Alaina Dague: Lifting Up the Work of Educators

In her role with the Michigan Department of Education, Alaina Dague ’13 strives to elevate the prestige and respect of the teaching profession.

<em>Alaina Dague, third from left, with other Teach for America 2013 Detroit corps members.<br></em>Alaina Dague, third from left, with other Teach for America 2013 Detroit corps members.
Alaina Dague ’13 champions the life-changing work of Michigan’s teachers.

In her position with the Michigan Department of Education, Alaina provides support for the Proud Michigan Educator Campaign — a project focused on lifting up the work of educators and elevating the prestige and respect of the teaching profession.

She coordinates the social media and traditional media elements of the community-based campaign, including a blog series highlighting the successes and contributions of teachers.

If you follow the campaign (#proudMIeducator) on Twitter, you will read about teachers who share the source of their inspiration: “When kids share their frustrations and their hopes with me, I am inspired to keep teaching.” Teachers talk about why they teach: “I do this work because I am committed to having a positive impact on the future of each student I serve.” They express their aspirations: “My goal is to make sure my students become productive citizens in the world they live in.

Originally from Lake, Mich., Alaina earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Alma College in 2013 and a master’s degree in educational studies from the University of Michigan in 2015. 

During her time at Alma, Alaina completed an internship with the MDE providing research assistance to the Special Populations division, specifically regarding Title I and III policies.

After graduation, she entered the 2013 corps of Teach for America in Detroit, where she taught for three years, having the privilege of teaching the same students from sixth through eighth grades. While she was teaching a full course load at a charter school in Detroit, she also led a union campaign in her district in an effort to secure more teacher voice in the decision-making process.

At the same time, she completed her master’s degree, concentrating in the study of urban pedagogy, with assistance from Alma’s M.J.J. Smith Society Scholarship. The Smith Scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding graduating history majors to apply toward post-graduate study.

Believing that policy has the power to create real change for both students and teachers, Alaina pursued her current position with the Michigan Department of Education. She lends her expertise and classroom experience in service to the MDE in the Office of Educator Talent through Leadership for Educational Equity’s Public Policy Fellowship.

At Alma, Alaina was involved in Model UN and Public Affairs activities, enrolled in Spring Term travel courses to Europe and worked on the service learning team for four years.

“The skills that are learned in Model UN are extremely transferrable to what I’m doing with the Leadership in Education Equity program,” says Alaina. “As a Model UN student, you are taught to be proficient at public speaking — and that’s not a skill everyone has as an undergraduate. But it’s important nonetheless, whether I’m teaching students in front of a classroom or engaging with colleagues in a meeting.

“The experiences gained in programs like Model UN are what really makes the difference in providing the concrete skills to succeed,” she says.

Story published on January 18, 2017