Teacher of the Year
The goal of the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program is to recognize and celebrate the wealth of excellent teachers that exist across the state. We applaud teachers who prioritize the needs of all children, who devote their professional lives to enriching the lives of Tennessee students, and who demonstrate exceptional gains in student achievement. Additionally, the program aims to:
- Promote effective teaching practices by recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers.
- Engage regional teachers of the year in education policy through the Teacher Advisory Council.
- Encourage participation by every school in the state so that all areas across the state and all types of teachers are represented.
- Provide a network for teachers to share effective practices.
- Encourage a sense of professionalism in teaching.
- Encourage greater participation in building a strong community-school partnership.
Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: school, district, region, grand division, and state in three grade bands: pre-k–4, 5–8, and 9–12. Please note that these levels refer to the grade(s) taught by the teacher and not to the grade structure or designation of the school.
Teachers selected at each cycle receive local recognition and awards underwritten by local sources. State recognition and awards include a banquet honoring the nine region-level Teachers of the Year.
The Tennessee Teacher of the Year also represents Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year selection process, which is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Notable alumni of the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program include:
- Terry Weeks, 1988 Tennessee Teacher of the Year: Named 1988 National Teacher of the Year
- Frank Bluestein, 1994 Tennessee Teacher of the Year: Named by Disney/McDonald's as the 1996 Performing Arts National Teacher of the Year
2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year
The 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year is Dr. Melissa Collins. Dr. Collins is an elementary school teacher in Memphis, TN, where she is constantly amazed by her students' curiosity about the world around them. Her classroom is her "Happy Place" where she enjoys working with her bright, brilliant students. She promotes scholars who use problem solving to create change in the world. She’s spent her entire teaching career at John P. Freeman Optional School. Dr. Collins is an expert in teacher leadership and voice, and she is an advocate for global learning, STEM education, and high standards for all students. She believes STEM is for all and collaborates with several organizations to promote and advocate for STEM education.
Dr. Collins has received several awards, including Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year, National University Award, Harriet Sanford Award, Global Teacher Prize Finalist (Top 50), the Queen Smith Award, the Stephen Sondheim Award, the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Sylvia Shugrue Award, and the NSTA-Shell Urban Development Award. She was also inducted into the National Teacher Hall of Fame in 2020.
She received her bachelor's degree in early elementary education from Murray State University. She also earned her master's in education in 2005, a specialist of education certification in district-level administration in 2008, and a Ph.D. in district-level administration in 2011 from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher and member of the illustrious group, Delta Sigma Theta.
What are the benefits to educators?
By participating in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program, educators have the opportunity to:
· be celebrated and honored for making exceptional gains with students,
· expand knowledge of education policy and participate in local, state, and national policy discussions,
· serve as spokesperson and advocate for the education profession,
· receive state and national professional learning opportunities which improves teaching and learning practices,
· hone public speaking skills,
· meet and network with other exceptional teachers across the state and build lifelong friendships and professional colleagues, and
· become inducted into an amazing network of statewide awardees, and become connected to an impactful, ongoing body of work that engages you as a professional long after an awardee’s service year.
What are the benefits to schools and districts?
By participating in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program, districts and schools have the opportunity to:
· celebrate excellence in education by publicly honoring hard working, successful teachers.
· attract local, state, and national attention,
· allow the district’s honorees to serve as a voice for the education profession, thus putting the district on the map and attracting educators to the district, and
What do CORE Region Teacher of the Year finalists do?
· Serve a one-year term on the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council.
· Travel or virtually connect with stakeholders across the state and their regions to share their expertise with community groups, businesses, government officials, and future teachers.
· Identify and advocate for educational issues.
What does the Tennessee Teacher of the Year do?
· Represent Tennessee at all required National Teacher of the Year events including several national leadership conferences and the national recognition week in Washington, D.C.
· Respond to and fulfill Tennessee Teacher of the Year speaking requests, presentations, etc.
· Serve a two-year term on the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council.
· Travel the state and their regions to share their expertise with community groups, businesses, government officials, and future teachers.
· Identify and advocate for educational issues.
In order to be considered for the state-level award, a Teacher of the Year candidate must:
- be a full-time, certified, in good standing, pre-k–12 teacher in a state-accredited public or charter school in Tennessee at each stage of the recognition process (school, district, region, grand division, state, and national levels),
- spend the majority of the school day in direct instruction to students,
- have a minimum of three years of experience as a teacher in Tennessee public or charter schools, and
- have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning.
Teachers of the Year at all levels must:
- Be a facilitator of learning, skilled in implementing research-based and creative teaching strategies.
- Show evidence of positive teacher effect over time related to student achievement through formal and informal documentation.
- Be able to explain, discuss, and defend a personal philosophy of teaching.
- Have a broad understanding and current trends and issues in education.
- Be poised, articulate, enthusiastic, and energetic.
- Be exceptionally dedicated to the teaching profession.
- Have a superior ability to instill in students a love of learning.
- Be recognized as leaders in the community as well as in the school.
- Show active involvement and leadership in professional development and extra-curricular activities.
- Have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues.
by 11:59 p.m. CT on Feb. 26, 2023.For School Level Teacher of the Year
For School-Level Teacher of the Year
· The department recommends that districts share the goals of the Teacher of the Year program, eligibility, and selection criteria with teachers and principals to inform their nominations. Each school faculty may choose a teacher(s) in each category to participate in the system competition. Categories consist of grades pre-k–4, 5–8, and 9–12. Please note that these categories refer to the grade taught by the teacher and do not refer to the grade structure or designation of the school.
· While multiple teachers from each grade band may be selected for Teacher of the Year at the school level, it is recommended that the number of teachers chosen in each category does not to exceed one per 20 faculty members (or portion of 20) in that category.
· It is recommended that school-level Teacher of the Year finalists complete part I of the Teacher of the Year application (or some comparable district application). The school-level Teacher of the Year finalist should submit applications to the director of schools (or designee) for the district-level selection process.
· Each principal submits the school-level Teacher of the Year Report Form to the director of schools.
For System-Level (School District) Teacher of the Year
· District selection committees should include educators with a variety of experience, such as curriculum supervisors, principals, teacher leaders, and previous Teachers of the Year (district, region, grand division winner, or state Teachers of the Year), to review applications of each school-level Teacher of the Year. Each selection committee should include diverse representation based on gender, race, subject areas, and the grade bands to be considered (pre-K–4, 5–8, 9–12).
· Committees select one teacher from each category (pre-K–4, 5–8, 9–12) to represent the district in the region-level selection process. Please note that these categories refer to the grade taught by the teacher and do not refer to the grade structure or designation of the school.
· Director of schools (or designee) must submit the names of the district-level Teachers of the Year using the online district-level Teacher of the Year Report Form by 11:59 p.m. CT on Jan. 22, 2023.
· After director of schools (or designee) submission, each district-level Teacher (from each category) must complete part I of the Teacher of the Year application and submit electronically by 11:59 p.m. CT on Feb. 26, 2023.
For Region-Level Application
- District-level Teachers of the Year must submit an electronic application no later than 11:59 p.m. CT on February 26, 2023 in order to participate in the region-level Teacher of the Year selection process. A link to the online application will be provided to finalists. Please type responses directly into the online form. Do not exceed any word limits noted in the application.
For State-Level Application
- Region-level Teacher of the Year finalists will be notified that they are eligible to advance to the next stage of the selection process and must complete part II of the application no later than 11:59 p.m. CT on April 9, 2023.
- Completed applications will be submitted electronically. A link to the online application will be provided to finalists. Please type responses directly into the online form. Do not exceed any word limits noted in the application..
- 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year Process Overview(webinar): This short video provides an overview of the 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year process and what you can expect from each stage in the selection process.
- Approaching the Part I Teacher of the Year Application (webinar): This one-hour webinar will dive more deeply into the components of the part I Teacher of the Year application.
- Guidebook for Applicants: This document contains tips and tricks for how to improve your Tennessee Teacher of the Year application. While referencing this document will not guarantee a successful outcome in the selection process, this document is useful for refining your responses to ensure they align to the application prompts.
- Part I Application PDF: This document contains all questions listed in the electronic application. Schools and districts are encouraged to use this document as a foundation for their own school- and district-level Teacher of the Year applications. Applicants are encouraged to use this document to draft and revise application responses prior to submitting via the online form.
- Part II Application PDF: This document contains all questions listed in the electronic application. Schools and districts are encouraged to use this document as a foundation for their own school- and district-level Teacher of the Year applications. Applicants are encouraged to use this document to draft and revise application responses prior to submitting via the online form.
|Year||Teacher||School||School System||Subject Area|
|2022||Morgan Rankin||South Side School||Johnson City||2nd Grade|
|2021||Kami Lunsford||Karns Middle School||Knox County Schools||Choral/Vocal Music|
|2020||Brian McLaughlin||Morristown-Hamblen High School West||Hamblen County||Algebra and Statistics|
||Franklin Elementary School
||Franklin Special School District
|2018||Cicely Woodard||West End Middle School||Metro Nashville||8th Grade Mathematics|
|2017||Derek Voiles||Lincoln Heights Middle School||Hamblen County||7th grade|
|2016||Catherine Whitehead||West Chester Elementary||Chester County||3rd grade|
|2015||Karen Vogelsang||Keystone Elementary||Shelby County||4th grade|
|2014||Wanda Napier Lacy||Farragut High School||Knox County||Advanced Placement calculus|
|2013||Allyson Chick||Richland Elementary School||Memphis City||2nd grade|
|2012||Byron A. Booker||Knox Central High School||Knox County||English as a Second Language|
|2011||Dr. Cheryl Deaton||Pigeon Forge Primary||Sevier County||4th grade|
|2010||Patty Kiddy||Selmer Elementary School||McNairy County||1st grade|
|2009||Luajean Bryan||Walker Valley High School||Bradley County||Mathematics|
|2008||Pamela Rector||Red Bank High School||Hamilton County||English|
|2007||Susanne Frensley||Hillsboro High School||Metro Nashville||Art History|
|2006||Dawn Heterick Werner||Fairmount Elementary||Bristol City||Title I (K-6) Reading/Math|
|2005||Karen Blooding, NBCT||Homer Pittard Campus||Rutherford County||K-6 Music|
|2004||Tracy L. Hoilman||Unicoi County High||Unicoi County||Drama, Speech, English|
|2003||Deborah Smith||Glencliff Elementary||Metro Nashville||Kindergarten|
|2002||Melinda K. Day||Lenoir City Elementary||Lenoir City||5th grade|
|2001||Dorene Harris Lowery||Black Fox Elementary||Bradley County||K-5th grade|
|2000||SuEllen Whitson||Indian Trail Middle||Johnson City||6th grade|
|1999||Alana Delise Teague||McNairy Central High||McNairy County||11th/12th grade English|
|1998||Linda Arms Gilbert||Black Fox Elementary||Murfreesboro City||Music, Band,Chorus|
|1997||Cathy A. Pihl||Kate Bond Elementary||Shelby County||4th grade|
|1996||Linda L. Cheek||Ingleside Elementary||Athens City||Multiage|
|1995||Pamela Jean Burish||Eakin School||Metro/Nashville||3rd grade|
|1994||Frank Bluestein||Germantown High||Shelby County||Theatre/Communication Arts|
|1993||James H. Kirk, Jr.||Alcoa Middle School||Alcoa City||6th grade|
|1992||Delores Doyle||Reeves-Rogers Elem||Murfreesboro City||2nd grade|
|1991||Joseph S. York||Fayette-Ware High||Fayette County||AP/11th grade English|
|1990||Geraldine Hawes||Cleveland High||Cleveland City||English, Speech and Drama|
|1989||Edna Loveday||Sevierville Primary||Sevierville County||Kindergarten|
|1988||Terry Weeks||Central Middle||Rutherford County||7th grade Social Studies|
|1987||Carol Gardnes Transou||Science Hill High||Johnson City||AP American history|
|1986||T. Dan Duggar||Ottaway Elementary||Greene County||Reading and Mathematics|
|1985||Susan Ingram Gendrich||Bradley Elementary||Murfreesboro City||English as a Second Language|
|1984||Sandra Hunter Crouch||White Co. High||White County||9th grade Consumer Homemaking|
|1983||Eleanore M. Zurbruegg||Ridgeway Elementary||Memphis City||2nd grade|
|1982||Martha Sue Elkins||Willow Brook Elementary||Oak Ridge City||6th grade|
|1981||Dr. Brenda Thompson (Smith) Gulledge||Tusculum View Elementary||Greeneville City||5th grade Language and Social Studies|
|1980||Irene L. Fox||Woodland Elementary||Oak Ridge City||Music|
|1979||Joan Newby Edgington||Watertown High||Wilson County||English|
|1978||Delores LeCornu Archie||Milan High School||Milan City||Mathematics|
|1977||Cora R. Cox||Andrew Johnson Elem||Kingsport City||Teacher for autistic children|
|1976||Donald Wayne Hood||Ross M. Robinson Jr. HS||Kingsport City||American History|
|1974||Evelyn Crunk McBroom||Stratford High||Metro/Nashville||Language & Mathematics|
|1973||May McGlothin||Coalfield Elementary||Morgan County||Kindergarten|
|1972||Ruby Street Cooley||Dyersburg High School||Dyersburg City||Mathematics|
|1971||Edna Ruth White||Jennie Bell Elementary||Dyersburg City||Special Education|
|1970||Vallie Hunter||Putnam Co. Senior High||Putnam County||English|
|1968||Maxie Wilson||Cocke County High School||Cocke County||English, Latin I and II|
|1967||Dr. Flora Joy||Johnson City|
|1966||Elizabeth Reed||Giles County|
|1964||James Muskelly||Memphis City|
|1960||Fayna Kennedy Moore||Franklin County|