SCORE selects 26 teachers for Tennessee Educator Fellowship

PHOTO: Marta W. Aldrich
Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist and SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson speak with reporters following the release of SCORE's annual State of Education in Tennessee report.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) announced Thursday the selection of 26 teachers for the 2015-16 class of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship.

The nonpartisan advocacy and research organization also tapped an experienced teacher from Shelby County Schools to lead the program in its second year.

“Teachers are the most important in-school factor for increasing student success, and their insight is crucial to developing the policies and practices that can sustain and accelerate student growth in Tennessee,” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson said in a news release. “The Tennessee Educator Fellowship equips and empowers classroom teachers to advocate for their students and their profession.”

The program’s 2014-15 Educator Fellows have appeared at numerous public speaking engagements, invited policymakers into their classrooms, written about their education experience in state and national publications, and served on state-level policy committees.

Woodson announced that Peter Tang, a master teacher at Kate Bond Middle School in Memphis and a member of the first cohort, will be the new Educator Fellows Coordinator.

“The Tennessee Educator Fellowship was a powerful and enriching experience for the 22 teachers who made up the inaugural class,” Tang said.

The new class includes teachers with more than 300 years of combined teaching experience and represent elementary, middle and high schools in urban, suburban and rural systems across Tennessee. They teach math, English, science, social studies, history, government, engineering and robotics, music and junior ROTC.

The 2015-16 fellows are:

  • Dana Casey, eighth-grade English language arts teacher at Highland Rim School, Lincoln County Schools
  • Cindy Cliche, second-grade math teacher at McFaddon School of Excellence, Rutherford County Schools
  • Amanda Cole, fifth-grade math teacher at John Adams Elementary, Kingsport City Schools
  • Cory Concus, grades 9-10 math teacher at Covington High School, Tipton County Schools
  • Andrea Doyle, seventh-grade math teacher at Three Oaks Elementary, Dyer County Schools
  • Meagan England, grades 5-6 English language arts teacher at Midway Elementary School, Claiborne County Schools
  • Brad Gentry, grades 9-12 engineering and robotics teacher at Greene Technology Center, Greeneville City Schools
  • Anthony Goad, seventh-grade science teacher at Tyner Middle Academy, Hamilton County Schools
  • Lindsey Hagan, grades K-5 music and student leadership teacher at Bess T. Shepherd Elementary, Hamilton County Schools
  • Curtis Herring, grades 9-12 science teacher at Overton High School, Shelby County Schools
  • Stacy Jones, grades 11-12 English language arts teacher at McNairy Central High School, McNairy County Schools
  • Bonnie Lowery, sixth-grade science teacher at Coulter Grove Intermediate School, Maryville City Schools
  • Elaine Luther, grades 9-12 math and science teacher at South Gibson County High School, Gibson Special School District
  • Samantha Massey, ninth-grade English language arts teacher at West High School, Knox County Schools
  • Becky McBride, ninth-grade English teacher at Brighton High School, Tipton County Schools
  • Amanda Nixon, fifth-grade teacher at Riverwood Elementary, Shelby County Schools
  • Danielle Rutig, fourth-grade writing, science and social studies teacher at Andersonville Elementary School, Anderson County Schools
  • Martha Shaffer, grades 9-12 Air Force Junior ROTC teacher at Maplewood High School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Samantha Singer, 10th-grade English language arts teacher at John Overton High School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Leticia Skae, 10th- and 12th-grade English language arts teacher at Hillsboro High School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Heather Snodgrass, seventh-grade math teacher at KIPP Academy Nashville, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Angela Staples, seventh-grade English language arts and history teacher at Elmore Park Middle School, Bartlett City Schools
  • Meka Wilhoit, kindergarten teacher at Washburn Elementary School, Grainger County Schools
  • Tammy Wilson, first-grade teacher at Farmington Elementary School, Germantown Municipal School District
  • Jeff Yawn, 12th-grade U.S. Government teacher at Beech High School, Sumner County Schools
  • Mary Beth Young, kindergarten teacher at Woodland Elementary School, Cannon County Schools

The new fellows will hold their first gathering in July. Throughout the year, they will participate in seminars and will serve as liaisons between their colleagues, communities and policymakers.

Peter Tang
Peter Tang

Tang has been teaching for five years in the Memphis area and is an alumnus of the Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows program, where he briefed national and state policymakers about teacher development and academic standards. He serves as a Tennessee Department of Education Core Coach and on the board of EdReports.org, a nonprofit that provides Consumer Reports-style reviews of instructional materials.

Tang succeeds Cicely Woodard, who has been on leave from Metro Nashville Public Schools and is returning to the classroom as a math teacher at West End Middle Prep.

SCORE was founded in 2009 by former U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Nashville-based group works collaboratively to support Tennessee’s work to prepare students for college and the workforce.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at cbauman@chalkbeat.org.

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”