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TN Announces 2015-16 Teacher of the Year Finalists

Friday, June 12, 2015 | 09:24am

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Education is proud to announce the finalists for the 2015-16 Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award. The nine finalists are elementary, middle, and high school educators from each Grand Division of the state. Grand Division winners and the Teacher of the Year will be selected from this group and announced this fall.

"Teachers are the biggest factor in the success of our students, and it is an honor to celebrate educators that are helping their students grow," Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “We celebrate these finalists, but also the thousands of dedicated educators across the state.”

These finalists will have the opportunity to join the commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council. Members of this body will offer insight, feedback, and advice on issues that impact teachers across the state.

“Seeking feedback and advice from our Teacher of the Year finalists is a critical step in ensuring that we are learning from and listening to teachers from all regions of our state,” Commissioner McQueen said.

The nine finalists for 2015-16 Teacher of the Year are:

West Tennessee
CORE Region Teacher School District
Shelby/Municipals Tonya Hawkins Arlington Elementary Arlington Community
Southwest Cathy Whitehead West Chester Elementary Chester County
Northwest Pamela Copeland Dresden Middle Weakley County
Middle Tennessee
CORE Region Teacher School District
Mid Cumberland Kyle Prince Central Magnet Rutherford County
South Central Regina Peery McDowell Elementary Maury County
Upper Cumberland Gay Burger East Side Elementary Cannon County
East Tennessee
CORE Region Teacher School District
Southeast Adam Moss Arnold Memorial Elementary Cleveland City
East Tennessee Karen Kelley Pigeon Forge High Sevier County
First Tennessee Rebekah Haren Dobyns-Bennett High Kingsport City

The final winner will represent Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition and is an ambassador for education throughout the year. To qualify, candidates must have been teaching full-time for at least five years, have a proven record of using creative, research-based teaching strategies resulting in measurable achievement, and be effective school and community leaders. A panel of professional educators from across the state scored applications to identify these finalists.

For more information, contact Ashley Ball at (615) 532-6260 or