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New commissioner to teachers: I’m ready to listen

Candice McQueen doesn’t assume her role as Tennessee’s education commissioner until Jan. 20, but she’s already reaching out to teachers.

The Tennessee Education Report posted a letter to teachers in which the commissioner-to-be, a former teacher and current university administrator, thanked teachers for their work this year.

She reiterated points from her speech Wednesday, when she accepted her appointment: Tennessee is heading in “the right direction,” she said, and she wants teacher input to make sure the state’s upward trajectory continues.

She didn’t mention that the direction of Tennessee’s reforms — new standards and more rigorous accountability measures — was largely shaped by outgoing commissioner Kevin Huffman, who was not always popular with the state’s largest teachers union.

But McQueen did highlight two things that make her different from Huffman: Her classroom experience and her Tennessee roots.

She said:

I grew up in Clarksville, and like you have served as a classroom teacher – in both public and private schools – at the elementary and middle school levels — in Tennessee and outside our state – and I have spent most of my career focused on developing and supporting educators to help our students succeed. We both know that’s where the magic and hard work takes place – in classrooms – between great teachers and eager children.

Did you get the letter? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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