Teacher Leadership Institute | Meet the MAE TLI Coaches

With the Teacher Leadership Institute’s (TLI) 2018-2019 Fellows Program just around the corner, it’s time to meet your coaches! 



Erica Webber Jones is currently an Instructional Coach for the Hinds County School District. This will be her fourth year as a Teacher Leadership Institute Coach. Mrs. Jones has been selected as one of the NEA Foundation’s Global Fellows and serves as the Mississippi Association of Educators’ Secretary-Treasurer. Her work also includes the Praxis Series of training. Mrs. Jones earned a BS and M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Jackson State University. She has been an educator for 17 years and was recently honored as the 2018 Hinds County Teacher of the Year.



Suzanne Smith is a National Board Certified Teacher with 30 years of experience as an educator in Mississippi. She has taught English as a Second Language, Music, Special Education, Computer, Math, and Social Studies. At present, she teaches sixth grade Math and Social Studies at Grenada Middle School in Grenada, Mississippi. She has served on various MAE Committees (Budget, Member Benefits, Membership, Legislative, and Succession Planning) and currently is on the MAE Board of Directors for the Northwest Region and President of the Grenada Association of Educators. Suzanne has been an MAE trainer since 2007 in the areas of: CARE, PALS, I Can Do It, Praxis Math, Educator and the Law, Member Benefits, National Board, Local Leadership, Special Education, Differentiated Instruction, and Math. She has participated in several NEA projects including the NEA writing collaborative on School Safety, the pilot year of the Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI), attended the NEA Alumni Academy, and is presently a Micro-Credentials Assessor for NEA.



Erica Avent is an Intervention Coordinator with the Oxford School District in Oxford, Mississippi. She has inspired and motivated the children of Mississippi schools for the past 14 years as a 3-6 grade classroom teacher. She also mentors teachers as an Adjunct Professor of Teacher Education with the University of Mississippi, and is a mentor teacher with the Mississippi Teacher Fellowship Program. Ms. Avent began her TLI experience as a member of the TLI Year 2 Cohort when she completed a capstone on Mentoring Programs for African American boys. Since then she has presented her capstone at NEA national conferences and panels. She serves on the MAE Board for the Northwest Region and is President of the Oxford Association of Educators. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who has earned her Ed.S, M.A., and B.A from the University of Mississippi. Ms. Avent will graduate in May with a Ed.D in Elementary Education, with an emphasis on teacher preparation and mentorship.


TLI’s goal is for participating teachers to become leaders in their profession, with the knowledge, skills, and core values required to meet the demands of teaching in the 21st century.