Teacher of the Year
The Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors outstanding teachers in Tennessee. We applaud teachers who care about children, who devote their professional lives to enriching the lives of Tennessee students, and who demonstrate exceptional gains in student achievement. Goals of the program are:
- Promote effective teaching practices by recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers.
- Engage regional teachers of the year in education policy making through the Teacher Advisory Council.
- Encourage participation by every school in the state so that all Tennessee teachers may be recognized and rewarded.
- Build a network of local and state corporate sponsors.
- Provide a network for teachers to share effective practices.
- Encourage a sense of professionalism in teaching.
- Encourage greater participation in building a strong community-school partnership.
2020-21 Tennessee Teacher of the Year
The 2020-21 Tennessee Teacher of the Year is Kami Lunsford of Knox County Schools. Kami has been sharing her love of learning and music with students, teachers, and future educators in all three regions of Tennessee for her entire career. As choir director of Karns Middle School, she uses singing, guitar, ukulele, and percussion to help students find their place in middle school and promote personal and academic success. She operates before and after school programs, including theater and advanced ensembles, that seek to expose students to disciplines, careers, and opportunities in the arts. She credits exceptional, visionary K-12 teachers in her rural, west Tennessee upbringing for her passion to provide opportunities in creativity and leadership that equip students for their future— wherever it takes them. Paying it forward has always been the goal.
Two-time Middle School Teacher of the Year for Knox County Schools, she consistently answers the call to serve her school and county through leadership and collaboration on improvement initiatives. She actively supports Tennessee teachers as an evaluator and mentor, as well as a facilitator for the Tennessee Arts Academy at Belmont University. Her music ensembles have performed in nine states and extensively in Tennessee, recording at Studio B in Nashville, live at Graceland in Memphis, and alongside performers like Knoxville star, Chris Blue. Many of her students have pursued careers in music, performance, church music, theater, and education. She counts the privilege of using music and the arts to help kids build a better life as "the best job in the world."
What are the benefits to educators?
By participating in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program, educators have the opportunity to:
· be celebrated and honored for making exceptional gains with students,
· expand knowledge of education policy and participate in local, state, and national policy discussions,
· serve as spokesperson and advocate for the education profession,
· receive state and national professional learning opportunities which improves teaching and learning practices,
· hone public speaking skills,
· meet and network with other exceptional teachers across the state and build lifelong friendships and professional colleagues, and
· become inducted into an amazing network of statewide awardees, and become connected to an impactful, ongoing body of work that engages you as a professional long after an awardee’s service year.
What are the benefits to schools and districts?
By participating in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program, districts and schools have the opportunity to:
· celebrate excellence in education by publicly honoring hard working, successful teachers.
· attract local, state, and national attention,
· allow the district’s honorees to serve as a voice for the education profession, thus putting the district on the map and attracting educators to the district, and
What do CORE Region Teacher of the Year finalists do?
· Serve a one-year term on the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council.
· Travel or virtually connect with stakeholders across the state and their regions to share their expertise with community groups, businesses, government officials, and future teachers.
· Identify and advocate for educational issues.
What does the Tennessee Teacher of the Year do?
· Represent Tennessee at all required National Teacher of the Year events including several national leadership conferences and the national recognition week in Washington, D.C.
· Respond to and fulfill Tennessee Teacher of the Year speaking requests, presentations, etc.
· Serve a two-year term on the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council.
· Travel the state and their regions to share their expertise with community groups, businesses, government officials, and future teachers.
· Identify and advocate for educational issues.
In order to be considered for the state-level award, a Teacher of the Year candidate must:
- be a full-time, certified, in good standing, pre-k–12 teacher in a state-accredited public or charter school in Tennessee at each stage of the recognition process (school, district, region, grand division, state, and national levels),
- spend the majority of the school day in direct instruction to students,
- have a minimum of three years of experience as a teacher in Tennessee public or charter schools, and
- have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning.
Teachers of the Year at all levels must:
- have a broad understanding of research-based models for effective teaching and of current trends and issues in education,
- be facilitators of learning, skilled in implementing creative teaching strategies,
- be able to show evidence of positive teacher effect over time related to student achievement through formal and informal documentation,
- be able to explain, discuss, and defend a personal philosophy of teaching,
- be poised, articulate, enthusiastic, and energetic,
- be exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled,
- have a superior ability to teach and to inspire in students a love of learning,
- be recognized as leaders in the community and in the school,
- show active involvement and leadership in professional development and extra-curricular activities,
- inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, and
- have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues.
For School Level Teacher of the Year
For School-Level Teacher of the Year
· The department recommends that districts share the goals of the Teacher of the Year program, eligibility, and selection criteria with teachers and principals to inform their nominations. Each school faculty may choose a teacher(s) in each category to participate in the system competition. Categories consist of grades pre-k–4, 5–8, and 9–12. Please note that these categories refer to the grade taught by the teacher and do not refer to the grade structure or designation of the school.
· While multiple teachers from each grade band may be selected for Teacher of the Year at the school level, it is recommended that the number of teachers chosen in each category does not to exceed one per 20 faculty members (or portion of 20) in that category.
· It is recommended that school level Teacher of the Year finalists complete part I of the Teacher of the Year application (or some comparable district application). The school-level Teacher of the Year finalist should submit applications to the director of schools (or designee) for the district-level selection process.
· Each principal submits the school-level Teacher of the Year Report Form to the director of schools.
For System-Level (School District) Teacher of the Year
· District selection committees should include educators with a variety of experience, such as curriculum supervisors, principals, teacher leaders, and previous Teachers of the Year (district, region, grand division winner, or state Teachers of the Year), to review applications of each school-level Teacher of the Year. Each selection committee should include diverse representation based on gender, race, subject areas, and the grade bands to be considered (pre-K–4, 5–8, 9–12).
· Committees select one teacher from each category (pre-K–4, 5–8, 9–12) to represent the district in the region-level selection process. Please note that these categories refer to the grade taught by the teacher and do not refer to the grade structure or designation of the school.
· Director of schools (or designee) must submit the names of the district-level Teachers of the Year using the online district-level Teacher of the Year Report Form by 11:59 p.m. CT on Jan. 31, 2021.
· After director of schools (or designee) submission, each district-level Teacher (from each category) must complete part I of the Teacher of the Year application and submit electronically by 11:59 p.m. CT on Feb. 28.
For Region-Level Application
- District-level Teachers of the Year must submit an electronic application here in order to participate in the region-level Teacher of the Year selection process. Please type responses directly into the online form. Do not exceed any word limits noted in the application.
- *Helpful Tip—A Word document version of the application is available here[JB1] . Complete and save your responses in this template using Word, which will allow you to utilize the spell check and word count features before submitting via Formstack. Additionally, teachers selected as region-level finalists will be able to copy/paste part I of the application into the online application while completing part II.
- Complete part I of the application and submit no later than 11:59 p.m. CT on February 28, 2021.
For State-Level Application
Region-level Teacher of the Year finalists will be notified that they are eligible to advance to the next stage of the selection process and must complete part II of the application no later than 11:59 p.m. CT on May 2, 2021.
Completed applications will be submitted electronically. A link to the online application will be provided to finalists. Additionally, region-level finalists must upload the following documents along with completed application responses:
- a professional resume;
- three one-page letters of recommendation that support why the teacher should be the 2020-21 must be from:
- the principal, who should cite any relevant data on student achievement gains, and
- the remaining letters may be from a parent, colleague, administrator, or student;
- a professional biography; and
- one photo headshot.
2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year Process Overview
This short video provides an overview of the 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year process and what you can expect from each stage in the selection process.
- Part I Application: This document contains all questions listed in the electronic application. Schools and districts are encouraged to use this document as a foundation for their own school- and district-level Teacher of the Year applications. Applicants are encouraged to use this document to draft and revise application responses prior to submitting via the online form.
- Part II Application: This document contains all questions listed in the electronic application. Schools and districts are encouraged to use this document as a foundation for their own school- and district-level Teacher of the Year applications. Applicants are encouraged to use this document to draft and revise application responses prior to submitting via the online form.
- Application Guidance: This document contains tips and tricks for how to improve your Tennessee Teacher of the Year application. While referencing this document will not guarantee a successful outcome in the selection process, this document is useful for refining your responses to ensure they align to the application prompts.
|Year||Teacher||School||School System||Subject Area|
|2021||Kami Lunsford||Karns Middle School||Knox County Schools||Choral/Vocal Music|
|2020||Brian McLaughlin||Morristown-Hamblen High School West||Hamblen County||Algebra and Statistics|
||Franklin Elementary School
||Franklin Special School District
|2018||Cicely Woodard||West End Middle School||Metro Nashville||8th Grade Mathematics|
|2017||Derek Voiles||Lincoln Heights Middle School||Hamblen County||7th grade|
|2016||Catherine Whitehead||West Chester Elementary||Chester County||3rd grade|
|2015||Karen Vogelsang||Keystone Elementary||Shelby County||4th grade|
|2014||Wanda Napier Lacy||Farragut High School||Knox County||Advanced Placement calculus|
|2013||Allyson Chick||Richland Elementary School||Memphis City||2nd grade|
|2012||Byron A. Booker||Knox Central High School||Knox County||English as a Second Language|
|2011||Dr. Cheryl Deaton||Pigeon Forge Primary||Sevier County||4th grade|
|2010||Patty Kiddy||Selmer Elementary School||McNairy County||1st grade|
|2009||Luajean Bryan||Walker Valley High School||Bradley County||Mathematics|
|2008||Pamela Rector||Red Bank High School||Hamilton County||English|
|2007||Susanne Frensley||Hillsboro High School||Metro Nashville||Art History|
|2006||Dawn Heterick Werner||Fairmount Elementary||Bristol City||Title I (K-6) Reading/Math|
|2005||Karen Blooding, NBCT||Homer Pittard Campus||Rutherford County||K-6 Music|
|2004||Tracy L. Hoilman||Unicoi County High||Unicoi County||Drama, Speech, English|
|2003||Deborah Smith||Glencliff Elementary||Metro Nashville||Kindergarten|
|2002||Melinda K. Day||Lenoir City Elementary||Lenoir City||5th grade|
|2001||Dorene Harris Lowery||Black Fox Elementary||Bradley County||K-5th grade|
|2000||SuEllen Whitson||Indian Trail Middle||Johnson City||6th grade|
|1999||Alana Delise Teague||McNairy Central High||McNairy County||11th/12th grade English|
|1998||Linda Arms Gilbert||Black Fox Elementary||Murfreesboro City||Music, Band,Chorus|
|1997||Cathy A. Pihl||Kate Bond Elementary||Shelby County||4th grade|
|1996||Linda L. Cheek||Ingleside Elementary||Athens City||Multiage|
|1995||Pamela Jean Burish||Eakin School||Metro/Nashville||3rd grade|
|1994||Frank Bluestein||Germantown High||Shelby County||Theatre/Communication Arts|
|1993||James H. Kirk, Jr.||Alcoa Middle School||Alcoa City||6th grade|
|1992||Delores Doyle||Reeves-Rogers Elem||Murfreesboro City||2nd grade|
|1991||Joseph S. York||Fayette-Ware High||Fayette County||AP/11th grade English|
|1990||Geraldine Hawes||Cleveland High||Cleveland City||English, Speech and Drama|
|1989||Edna Loveday||Sevierville Primary||Sevierville County||Kindergarten|
|1988||Terry Weeks||Central Middle||Rutherford County||7th grade Social Studies|
|1987||Carol Gardnes Transou||Science Hill High||Johnson City||AP American history|
|1986||T. Dan Duggar||Ottaway Elementary||Greene County||Reading and Mathematics|
|1985||Susan Ingram Gendrich||Bradley Elementary||Murfreesboro City||English as a Second Language|
|1984||Sandra Hunter Crouch||White Co. High||White County||9th grade Consumer Homemaking|
|1983||Eleanore M. Zurbruegg||Ridgeway Elementary||Memphis City||2nd grade|
|1982||Martha Sue Elkins||Willow Brook Elementary||Oak Ridge City||6th grade|
|1981||Dr. Brenda Thompson (Smith) Gulledge||Tusculum View Elementary||Greeneville City||5th grade Language and Social Studies|
|1980||Irene L. Fox||Woodland Elementary||Oak Ridge City||Music|
|1979||Joan Newby Edgington||Watertown High||Wilson County||English|
|1978||Delores LeCornu Archie||Milan High School||Milan City||Mathematics|
|1977||Cora R. Cox||Andrew Johnson Elem||Kingsport City||Teacher for autistic children|
|1976||Donald Wayne Hood||Ross M. Robinson Jr. HS||Kingsport City||American History|
|1974||Evelyn Crunk McBroom||Stratford High||Metro/Nashville||Language & Mathematics|
|1973||May McGlothin||Coalfield Elementary||Morgan County||Kindergarten|
|1972||Ruby Street Cooley||Dyersburg High School||Dyersburg City||Mathematics|
|1971||Edna Ruth White||Jennie Bell Elementary||Dyersburg City||Special Education|
|1970||Vallie Hunter||Putnam Co. Senior High||Putnam County||English|
|1968||Maxie Wilson||Cocke County High School||Cocke County||English, Latin I and II|
|1967||Dr. Flora Joy||Johnson City|
|1966||Elizabeth Reed||Giles County|
|1964||James Muskelly||Memphis City|
|1960||Fayna Kennedy Moore||Franklin County|