Following through on a promise to involve teachers in education policy-making, Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday named 18 Tennessee teachers who will serve on his first Governor’s Teacher Cabinet.
The teachers will meet quarterly with Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to offer advice on policy and provide a direct line of communication to schools and communities. They will serve two-year terms, and the cabinet’s first meeting is planned for July.
School directors were invited to nominate one classroom teacher from each of their districts, and the final 18 were selected based on criteria including “focused on student achievement” and “encourages collaboration among colleagues.”
Haslam first proposed the cabinet last December as one of four initiatives aimed at better supporting teachers across the state.
“… This is another way to receive direct feedback from teachers who are in front of a class every day,” Haslam said in a news release. “As Tennessee continues to build on the success we’ve seen in our schools over the past four years, we want to hear from teachers about what is working and what needs improvement.”
Teachers have been among the workhorses in transitioning Tennessee classrooms to new academic standards and instructional approaches under the Race to the Top initiative launched in 2011. The transition included significant changes related to student testing and teacher evaluations, among other things. Teachers often complained about being essentially left out of the policy discussions, and the state teachers union has filed several lawsuits challenging the state’s teacher evaluation policies.
Members of the first Governor’s Teacher Cabinet are:
Elisabeth McArthur Bellah, Maryville City Schools
Melissa Bennett, Blount County Schools
Marsha Buck, Kingsport City Schools
Nick Darnell, Hamblen County Schools
Rebecca Few, Murfreesboro City Schools
Cathy Ginel, Oak Ridge City Schools
Anita Underwood Gray, Lebanon Special School District
Annette C. Johnson, Franklin County Schools
Abbey Kidwell, Clinton City School District
Wanda N. Lacy, Knox County Schools
Jessica Lindsay, Achievement School District
Schwann Logan, Bartlett Municipal School District
Lance Morgan, Union City Schools
Jessica Murray, Dyer County Schools
Kyle Prince, Rutherford County Schools
Angie Tisdale, Franklin Special School District
Karen Vogelsang, Shelby County Schools, and Tennessee’s 2015 Teacher of the Year
Catherine Whitehead, Chester County School System