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.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.