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TDOE Announces Nine Educators Named to the Inaugural Tennessee Teacher Ambassador Network

Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 11:44am

NASHVILLE—Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that nine educators have been selected to participate in the inaugural Tennessee Teacher Ambassador Network (TTAN) during the 2018-19 school year. The TTAN is a unique opportunity for teachers to advise and be embedded in the work of the Department of Education without asking them to leave the classroom.

As part of the TTAN, each teacher ambassador will be partnered with specific division leaders within the department based on interest and expertise so that they can learn deeply about key state-level work, share their experiences with these leaders to inform policy and practice, and be equipped to share state level communications with their peers. The goal is that this network will improve educational outcomes by ensuring the department continues to improve in leading teacher-informed work while providing more opportunities for educators to grow as teacher leaders.

“This new opportunity for our educators benefits both the leaders at the state and the teachers themselves,” McQueen said. “Unlike other fellowships, this experience ensures teachers are completely embedded in critical areas of our work so we can improve to better serve our students.”

All educators participating in the TTAN came highly recommended and were selected to be ambassadors through a competitive application process. In addition to the requirement of being current educators in Tennessee public schools with at least three years of experience, applicants were selected based on their individual impact on student outcomes and school success, leadership, insight based on school experience, communication skills, and capacity for the work of the network, including project management. Applications were rated based on their responses to questions addressing these areas; finalists participated in an additional interview component.

The educators chosen to be a part of the TTAN teach in a variety of subjects and grade levels, while also representing all three grand divisions of the state and eight school districts. The nine members of the TTAN are:

  • Misty Ayres-Miranda, Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Diane Barber Miller, Franklin Special School District
  • Rachel Bearden, Gibson County Special School District
  • Michelle Biggs, Shelby County Schools
  • Candace Hines, Achievement School District
  • Jessica Hubbuch, Hamilton County Department of Education
  • Haley Ottinger, Jefferson County Schools
  • Deanna Pickel, Oak Ridge Schools
  • Mark Wittman, Shelby County Schools

While experiences will be differentiated according to division needs, all Teacher Ambassadors will spend time in-person at the department to learn from and advise division leaders, engage in communication activities for key Tennessee education priorities, and work with teachers and schools in the field to share relevant, factual information about state practices. Divisions that will be partnering with Teacher Ambassadors for the 2018-19 school year include:

  • College, Career, and Technical Education (which includes early postsecondary opportunities like AP and dual enrollment)
  • Data and Research
  • School Improvement
  • Teachers and Leaders (which includes student growth portfolios and TEAM evaluation)
  • Special Populations (special education)
  • Teaching and Learning (early literacy, early learning, and RTI2)

Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner McQueen have prioritized and invested in teacher voice and engagement over the past several years by initiating opportunities such as the Governor’s Teachers Cabinet, the Hope Street Group Fellows, and the expanded Teacher Advisory Council in addition to supporting teacher leader networks in districts across the state and 31 new TNReady Ambassadors. The Tennessee Teacher Ambassador Network is another example of the state’s investment in teacher leadership to drive high-quality practice and implementation.

For more information about the Tennessee Teacher Ambassador Network, contact Cathy Pressnell, director of educator engagement, at Cathy.Pressnell@tn.gov. For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast at (615) 532-6260 or Sara.Gast@tn.gov.