Canter is one of 13 educators from across the country chosen for the federal program, now in its second year. He is the only person from Georgia selected out of nearly 1,400 applications. Last week, he visited Washington, D.C., and met other fellows and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"It was surreal," Canter said of only his second trip to Washington. "The secretary walked in, had an impromptu meeting and sat down to talk to us about policy, and I thought, 'How many teachers get to do this?'"
In the next year, Canter will do a lot of talking regarding education policy. In Cobb, he represents Pope in the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. However, as a fellow, he'll travel to eight Southern states discussing and receiving input from educators on how to advance teaching.
Canter is one of 10 classroom fellows who'll engage in education policy discussions, work with education department officials in various program offices and participate in
education projects. He will focus on teacher quality. Three other fellows will become full time federal education employees for a year.
"It's wonderful for me. I enjoy knowing that I have the ear of people that will listen, but at the same time like here, I have to be a voice for people in the building," Canter said.
"So there's a lot of going around and asking, 'What do you think about this policy or No Child Left Behind?' I know that there are a lot of mixed feelings out there, and then taking that information to the department and sharing that."
Canter will travel to Washington again for another summit this winter.
A professor recommended that he apply for the fellowship, which was open to public school teachers and instructional specialists. He applied in February and learned he selected in July. Canter is a graduate of Georgia State University, and is working on a specialist degree in gifted education at the University of Georgia.
Pope Principal Rick Beaulieu said Canter has a passion for educating children.
"He continually looks for ways to improve his pedagogy as well as assessing student learning," said Beaulieu. "He has tremendous leadership abilities and will be able to give our educational leaders at the federal level excellent input for future decisions."
At Pope, Canter teaches honors freshmen literature and works with students on the school's yearbook and newspaper staff.
"I get to stay here and be involved in policy," he said of his new position. "I'm looking forward to being able to collaborate with other teachers and share ideas. I think that we get in a rut of being stuck in our room all day, that we don't get time to actually share our practices."
Duncan said in a statement that the fellowship will play an important part in shaping future education policy.
"Enlisting the support of teachers and other educators is crucial to the success of the national movement to reform American education," he said. "I look forward to working with this year's fellows as partners as we discuss how to recognize and reward teachers, professional advancement, high standards and other key issues."