Tennessee Announces 2019-20 Teacher of the Year

Hamblen County School Educator Takes Top Teaching Honor
Friday, September 27, 2019 | 10:00pm

NASHVILLE – An educator from Hamblen County who is known for his creative teaching style and dedication to students was named the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year at the department of education's annual gala on Friday night.

Brian McLaughlin, an algebra teacher at Morristown-Hamblen High School West, is the recipient of this year’s top honor. McLaughlin has been teaching in the state for 11 years and is a National Board Certified Teacher. McLaughlin is a dedicated, conscientious, and highly energetic instructor who sets high standards for his students, both in and out of the classroom.  As a respected school leader, he never misses the opportunity to infuse a message of integrity and strong moral values into every lesson he delivers.

“Teachers, like Mr. McLaughlin, are the back-bone of our education system. I’ve had the honor of speaking with him multiple times, and his passion for helping students learn valuable lessons that will serve them both academically and personally was readily evident. I applaud his leadership, and it’s my privilege to recognize him as one of Tennessee’s best educators,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.

McLaughlin has been recognized as a Level 5 teacher every year of his career. Level 5 is a designation given to teachers when their students make significantly more progress than the growth standard. Though McLaughlin’s growth scores show a focus on instruction, he acknowledges that his work often extends beyond the classroom, “I believe that every student can overcome his or her life’s challenges through the work we do in the classroom, but their personal needs must be met as well,” said McLaughlin, I go to sporting events and award ceremonies to support students whose parents cannot be present. I try to say words of encouragement, including ‘I’m proud of you’. My students know I love them and they work hard because they love me, even if they don’t love themselves yet.”

McLaughlin follows the 2018-19 Tennessee Teacher of the Year Melissa Miller, a first-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Franklin, who was thanked for her service during the gala. During the event, the department also recognized finalists who were named “Teacher of the Year” for the three grand divisions of the state.

Amanda Tutor, an art teacher at Bartlett Ninth Grade Academy in Bartlett City Schools, was recognized as the Grand Division winner for West Tennessee. Tutor brings excitement and empathy to her classroom each day and believes in challenging her students.

Lindsay Spain, an elementary school teacher at Prescott South Elementary School in Putnam County Schools, was recognized as the Grand Division winner for Middle Tennessee. Spain enjoys building relationships and providing unique lessons for her students, helping them exceed expectations.

Kristin Robertson, an English language arts teacher at Signal Mountain Middle High School in Hamilton County Schools, was recognized as the Grand Division winner for East Tennessee. Robertson is committed to helping her students succeed and advance academically by bringing text to life in her classroom.

As Tennessee Teacher of the Year, McLaughlin will become a spokesperson for teachers throughout the state, serving as Tennessee's representative in the 2020 National Teacher of the Year Program. McLaughlin will also be asked to share his insight from the classroom as part of several committees and working groups led by the department.

The nine Teacher of the Year state finalists, who represent all regions in the state, serve on the Teacher Advisory Council during the 2019-2020 school year. This council acts as a working group of expert teachers to provide feedback and inform the work of the department throughout the school year. Additionally, to provide continuity and leadership, the three Grand Division winners will continue their term during the 2020-21 school year.

Teacher of the Year videos can be found at the following links:

Sarah Chumney, Murfreesboro

Holly Cooper, Lexington, TN, Lexington High School

Tina Greenlee, Newbern, TN Dyer County High School

Brian McLaughlin, Morristown-Hamblen High School West

Mary Pack, Loretto, TN, Loretto High School

Kristin Robertson, Signal Mountain, TN

Lindsay Spain, Cookeville, Prescott South Elementary

Amanda Tutor, Bartlett, TN, Bartlett 9th Grade Academy

For questions about the Teacher of the Year program in Tennessee, please contact David Donaldson, assistant commissioner of human capital, at David.Donaldson@tn.gov. For media inquiries, please contact Jennifer Johnson, director of communications, at Jennifer.Johnson@tn.gov.