Nine teachers are finalists to be Tennessee’s next Teacher of the Year and to represent the state in national competition.

“These teachers are our students’ heroes,” said Education Commissioner Candice McQueen in releasing the list Tuesday with the State Department of Education.

The 2017-18 winner will be announced this fall, along with regional winners.

In addition to being ambassadors for education, all finalists serve on McQueen’s Teacher Advisory Council, a working group that provides feedback to inform the department’s work.

The finalists are:

West Tennessee

  • Stephanie Rice, Crosswind Elementary, Collierville Schools
  • Mandy Fraley, Northeast Middle, Jackson-Madison County Schools
  • Carol Nanney, McKenzie Elementary, McKenzie Special School District

Middle Tennessee

  • Cicely Woodard, West End Middle, Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Chelle Daniels, West Middle, Tullahoma City Schools
  • Rebecca Ryan, White County High, White County Schools

East Tennessee

  • Kristin Burrus, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Hamilton County Department of Education
  • Karen Latus, Bearden High, Knox County Schools
  • Nancy Miles, South Side Elementary, Johnson City Schools

The competition, which dates to 1960, is based on scoring from a panel of educators from across the state. To qualify, candidates must have been teaching full-time for at least three years, have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning, and be effective school and community leaders.

Last year’s winner was Derek Voiles, a seventh-grade English language arts teacher in Morristown. Voiles teaches at Lincoln Heights Middle in Hamblen County Schools in East Tennessee.