Nine teachers are finalists for the 2016-17 Tennessee Teacher of the Year award, the State Department of Education announced on Thursday.

The field includes three finalists each from East, Middle and West Tennessee. The statewide winner will be announced in the fall, along with regional winners.

All nine finalists also will join Education Commissioner Candice McQueen’s Teacher Advisory Council.

“Teachers live out our policies every day, and it is critical that we always remember the impact our decisions have on the classroom,” McQueen said in a press release. “The Teacher Advisory Council is an incredibly important group, bringing diverse perspectives to our work.”

All candidates have been teaching full time for at least five years and have a proven record of using creative, research-based teaching strategies resulting in measurable achievement. They were scored by a panel of educators from across the state.

The nine finalists are:

  • Mark Gray, Collierville Middle, Collierville Schools
  • Christ McManus, Chester County Middle, Chester County Schools
  • Callie Hodge, Medina Middle, Gibson County Special Schools
  • Sandy Irwin, Bellevue Middle Prep, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Corderyl Martin, Whitthorne MiddleMaury County Schools
  • Laurie Glover, Gordonsville Elementary, Smith County Schools
  • Siema Swartzel, Arnold Memorial Elementary, Cleveland City Schools
  • Leslie Wilson Vines, Jefferson Elementary, Jefferson County Schools
  • Derek Voiles, Lincoln Heights Middle, Hamblen County Schools

Cathy Whitehead, a third-grade teacher from Chester County, served as Tennessee’s 2015-16 Teacher of the Year. Whitehead teaches at West Chester Elementary School in Henderson in West Tennessee.