Tennessee Announces 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year  

Thursday, August 25, 2022 | 08:00pm


Memphis-Shelby County Schools Educator Takes Top State Teaching Honor   

NASHVILLE, TN—This evening, the Tennessee Department of Education announced Dr. Melissa Collins, an educator from Memphis-Shelby County Schools, known for her engaging and innovative STEAM initiatives, was named the 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year at the department's annual Excellence in Education celebration.

Dr. Collins, a second-grade teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis-Shelby County Schools, is the recipient of this year’s top teaching honor. She has been teaching for 21 years and is viewed as a leader, mentor, and advocate in her school. Dr. Collins also represents her school as STEM Coordinator at the district level. At the state and national level, Dr. Collins serves on multiple boards and committees where she collaborates with educators to develop STEAM curriculum and professional development.

“Teachers are the backbone of our school communities and play a vital role in helping our students learn and grow. Tennessee is fortunate to have so many incredible educators, and I am honored to recognize Dr. Melissa Collins as the 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “The Teacher of the Year celebration honorees strive for excellence in their classrooms each and every day and are making an impact on their students and communities, and it is my privilege to recognize these exceptional educators.”

Dr. Collins follows the 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year Morgan Rankin, a second-grade teacher at South Side School in Johnson City Schools, who was thanked for her service during the event.  

“Representing Tennessee teachers as the 2022 Teacher of the Year has been an incredible honor and a transformative experience. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from and with accomplished educators across the state and nation,” said Morgan Rankin, 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. “Our students and colleagues deserve the very best that Tennessee has to offer them, and I am excited to work alongside these innovative and dedicated Teacher of the Year finalists in the upcoming year. Together, our voices can help shape education in Tennessee.”

During the event, the department also recognized finalists who were named Grand Division Teachers of the Year. Bob Sparks, an 11-12th grade teacher at Jackson Central-Merry Early College High School in Jackson-Madison County Schools, was recognized as the grand division winner for West Tennessee. Kim Inglis, a 5th grade teacher at Black Fox Elementary School in Murfreesboro City Schools, was recognized as the grand division winner for Middle Tennessee. Margaret Bright, a 2nd grade teacher at Lenoir City Schools in Lenoir City Schools, was recognized as the grand division winner for East Tennessee.  

The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, TOSS, was the program sponsor for the event and is a dedicated supporter of the Teacher of the Year program.   

“It is an honor for TOSS to partner with the Department of Education to recognize our superior teachers from across the state. Teachers are the true difference makers when it comes to instilling a love of learning in our students. Now, more than ever, it is important that we recognize the profound value of Tennessee teachers and celebrate their indispensable role in creating a brighter future for Tennesseans,” said Dr. Dale Lynch, Executive Director of TOSS, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. 

To qualify for Teacher of the Year, 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. Districts were able to nominate one educator from each grade band. From over 260 applications, 27 regional semi-finalists were identified by a statewide selection committee, and the nine finalists were selected from this group.  

All nine finalists will also serve on the department’s Teacher Advisory Council for the duration of the 2022-23 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.  

Dr. Collins 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. 

For information regarding the nine 2022-23 finalists, click here. To learn more about the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council, click here. For more information on the Tennessee Teacher of the Year award, click here.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, email Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.