TDOE Announces 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year Finalists  

Wednesday, July 27, 2022 | 09:41am


Nine Finalists Move Forward for State Recognition to Serve on Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council  

NASHVILLE, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the nine finalists for the 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year award. 

The nine finalists represent each of the eight Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) areas in the state, as well as the Shelby County-Municipals area. The 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, and winners for each grand division of the state, will be selected from this group and announced during an honorary banquet this fall. 

“Educators are the backbone of Tennessee schools and communities, and have continued to demonstrate their dedication, professionalism, and unmatched passion to educating our students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am proud to recognize these nine teachers who have gone above and beyond to ensure Tennessee students are set up for success.”

Tennessee’s nine finalists for 2022-23 Teacher of the Year are:   


West Tennessee
CORE Region Teacher School District
Shelby/Municipals  Melissa Collins John P. Freeman Optional School Memphis-Shelby County Schools
Southwest Robert Sparks Jackson Central-Merry Early College High School Jackson-Madison County Schools
Northwest Kerri Newsom Dyersburg Primary School Dyersburg City Schools
Middle Tennessee
CORE Region Teacher School District
Mid Cumberland  Kim Inglis Black Fox Elementary Murfreesboro City Schools
South Central Rachel Porter Learning Way Elementary Bedford County Schools
Upper Cumberland Aleta Apple Woodland Park Elementary School White County Schools
East Tennessee
CORE Region Teacher School District
Southeast Kristin Burrus STEM School Chattanooga Hamilton County Schools
East Tennessee Margaret Bright Lenoir City Elementary School Lenoir City Schools
First Tennessee Meg Foster Elizabethton High School Elizabethton City Schools

“Tennessee teachers are innovative, knowledgeable, passionate, and committed to helping the students of Tennessee thrive,” said Morgan Rankin, 2021-22 Teacher of the Year, Johnson City Schools, First Region. “Reaching this point in this journey is no small feat, for our schools are full of educators who work tirelessly for their students. These educators represent the best of the best and should be proud of their accomplishments and embrace all that it brings. I am proud to celebrate each one of them.”   

Nominations of up to three educators representing each of the three grade bands were accepted from the state’s school districts. The Tennessee Teacher of the Year and Grand Division winners will be selected after interview rounds with each finalist.

State legislators representing the finalists’ home areas commented on this prestigious recognition and achievement, saying:

“I would like to congratulate Margaret Bright and Lenoir City Elementary School on this great honor,” said Lt. Governor Randy McNally. “Our Tennessee teachers are our state’s most valuable asset because it is they who will ultimately shape our future. I am very proud to represent Margaret and Lenoir City Schools and am grateful they are being recognized for their hard work on behalf of our state.”

“I would certainly like to congratulate Rachel Porter on her being a finalist for the Teacher of the Year award,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Marsh. “We are very fortunate to have Rachel in our Bedford County Schools and want to wish her the very best of luck with this award!  We have some of the greatest teachers in the whole US here in Tennessee and our legislature is proud to work with them as they teach our children how to be successful.”

“Congratulations to Margaret Bright and all the other finalists for the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award,” said State Representative Kent Calfee. “I also want to thank all our wonderful public education teachers across the Great State of Tennessee. It has been an honor to support you for the last ten years.”

“I applaud each finalist who has been nominated for Tennessee's 2022 Teacher of the Year Award, and I am especially proud of Ms. Megan Foster for her efforts in having such a positive impact on the lives of the students she has worked with throughout the years, as well as those that will be a product of her teaching in the future,” said State Senator Rusty Crowe. “Megan is a great example of a teacher that gives their all for the young students whom will determine the future of our state. Tennessee is lucky to have not just a few, but 9 finalists for this prestigious award."

“Being named a finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the Year is an incredible accomplishment,” said State Representative John B. Holsclaw Jr. “I congratulate Meg Foster on being recognized for her hard work and commitment to the students of Elizabethton High School. Her efforts highlight the tremendous impact educators have every day on the lives of students across our state.”

“Tennessee teachers are invaluable to the future and well-being of our State, and it is teachers like Kim Inlgis and the other Tennessee Teacher of the Year finalists that exemplify the very best of what education in Tennessee has to offer," said State Representative Bryan Terry. "I am proud to represent the district that is privileged to have a teacher like Kim Inglis working to help our students succeed.”

Finalists will have the opportunity to serve on Commissioner Schwinn’s Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council for the duration of the 2022-23 school year. The council is composed of expert teachers who provide feedback and inform the work of the department throughout the academic year.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year awardee will represent Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition and serve as an ambassador for education in the state throughout the 2022-23 school year. To qualify, candidates must have been teaching full-time for at least three years, have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning, and be effective school and community leaders.

To learn more about the Tennessee Teacher of the Year award, click here.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, email