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.

Haslam
Gov. Bill Haslam
PHOTO CREDIT: TN.gov

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