WOODBURY: Cannon County Schools take pleasure in honoring the district-level Teachers of the Year for the 2021-22 School Year. Each teacher was selected to represent the Cannon County School District in three categories: pre-kindergarten – fourth grade; fifth grade – eighth grade; and ninth grade – twelfth grade. One teacher in each category was selected by a committee to represent Cannon County as the District Teacher of the Year in the Upper Cumberland CORE region. A special announcement and ceremony took place in each educator’s school this past week.
The Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors outstanding teachers in Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Education applauds teachers who care about children, who devote their professional lives to enriching the lives of Tennessee students, and who demonstrate exceptional gains in student achievement. The goals of the program are:
- Promote effective teaching practices by recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers.
- Engage regional teachers of the year in education policy making through the Teacher Advisory Council.
- Encourage participation by every school in the state so that all Tennessee teachers may be recognized and rewarded.
- Build a network of local and state corporate sponsors.
- Provide a network for teachers to share effective practices.
- Encourage a sense of professionalism in teaching.
- Encourage greater participation in building a strong community-school partnership.
The Tennessee Teacher of the Year program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers, to stimulate interest in teaching as a career, and to encourage public involvement in education Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: school, district, region, grand division and state in three grade bands: pre-kindergarten – fourth grade, fifth grade – eighth grade, and ninth grade – twelfth grade. Please note that these levels refer to the grade(s) taught by the teacher and not to the grade structure or designation of the individual school. The following teachers were selected to represent Cannon County Schools as District Teachers of the Year 2021-22:
Cannon County Schools – 2021-22 District Teachers of the Year
Pre-kindergarten – fourth grade: Dawn Witty of Woodland School
Witty is in her fifteenth year of educating students and is currently serving her ninth year as a third grade teacher at Woodland School in Bradyville, TN. She has previously served as a substitute teacher, kindergarten educational assistant, and reading/math interventionist educational sssistant in Cannon County Schools at Woodland School beginning in the 2006-07 school year. She has served in multiple capacities at her school including being coordinated school health school coordinator, school emergency response team, Woodland Walking Club co-sponsor, as well as, having a degree in chemical engineering. Witty said, “One of the challenges teachers face is ensuring that they have high expectations for all of the students they teach. From the very beginning of the school year, I always try to set expectations high with regards to behavior and quality and quantity of work. I feel this should apply to myself, as a teacher as well; every lesson I teach should reinforce those high expectations so that students gradually get to know who I am as a teacher. I want to be known as the teacher who will never give up on any student nor one who will accept poor quality work or bad behavior. I want my students to have high aspirations for what they can achieve so therefore I try to model a work ethic that reflects what I want to see from them. I am also a true believer, paraphrasing Rita Pierson, ‘all students need a champion.’ I want my students to know I am one of their biggest supporters. I want them to know I believe in them and their abilities and expect great things from them.”
Fifth grade through eighth grade, Brian Parker of Woodland School: Parker is in his twentieth year of teaching and currently serves as a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Woodland Elementary School in Bradyville, TN. He is the Woodland Beta Club sponsor and the Governor’s Civics Seal Grant Coordinator for Woodland School and the entire Cannon County School District. He had previously served as a special education teacher at Woodland Elementary School from 2001-2018. Parker said, “This year — thanks in part to the civics grants — I have planned field trips to places that would reinforce what we have been learning in class. In our first trip, we took our students to the Tennessee State Capitol. Earlier this year, students in eighth grade studied the United States Constitution and the government it created. During our trip, the students were introduced to the government of Tennessee and the branches of government. When we returned to school after the trip, we began learning about the government of Tennessee. The students were able to relate their experiences to the trip and what they learned from the guides during our tour. I hope to provide students with an experience that helps understand the importance of government in their lives. In my classroom, I try to connect the information to student needs, based on their methods of learning. I try to incorporate activities and classroom assignments that engage multiple learning styles for all students. Over the past four years, I have tried many ways of presenting the information to allow all students to be able to learn the material. With my background in special education, I feel that I can approach material presentation in a way that benefits all students.”
Ninth grade through twelfth grade; Rebekah Tinsley, of Cannon County High School: Tinsley is in her eighth year of teaching and currently serves as a biology teacher at Cannon County High School in Woodbury, TN for the past two years. She previously taught in Warren County, TN and in Victoria, TX. Tinsley currently serves as an ESSER tutor and graduation coach, as well as serving as CCHS science department chairman, campus liaison for the TVA EnergyRight team, and CCHS Eden Reforestation Partner. Tinsley said, “I feel that I can expect the best from students because I spend intentional time building relationships. Education and growth does not always happen in a textbook or PowerPoint. My job as an educator is to foster growth in my students as humans. I often tell them my number one goal is to help them leave my classroom better than they entered. Better does not always mean a perfect biology EOC score. It could mean they become more organized, a better test taker, more confident, more empathetic, or even have a revelation of passion about science or their possible future career. As a biology teacher, I have taken more of a global approach with my students. Each year they are challenged to partner with Eden Reforestation in what we call a “Dime War.” Eden Projects are the most efficient reforestation organization in the world; planting trees for as little as $.10 per tree, while paying local villagers wages to work the tree farms. Through our partnership, the students learn portions of the ecology unit in biology, all while competing to raise the most money for reforestation. And each year, I find my students grow more and more generous. In a school of nearly 3,000, my students raised a few hundred dollars our first year. We were thrilled. And the CEO, Steve Fitch, reached out to my students to extend his thanks personally. Our second year we raised a bit more, and Steve sent my students a bracelet. As the project has gained interest and a reputation, I most recently held the competition at Cannon County High School with a population of less than 600. In our small school, my students raised over $1000 for Eden Projects, planting over 10,000 trees around the world and employing local villagers and widows in the countries of impact. My students sit at the edge of their seats when I play videos from the villages where their money is going to help. They ask questions about the world beyond Tennessee, the United States, and even North America. Their knowledge of ecology, and its application to the Tennessee biology standards, is taken beyond a good PowerPoint or test score. Their knowledge and learning is applied to a global scene. Their knowledge and learning makes an impact beyond their classroom and school.”
Director of Cannon County Schools, William Freddy Curtis, said “We are tremendously proud of each one of these outstanding educators. Each one of these deserving teachers exemplifies the Cannon County Schools’ vision, ‘Engaged in Excellence EVERY Day in EVERY Way!’ through our mission, ‘To Create a Unified Environment That Will Provide Opportunities for All Students to Reach Their Full Potential!’ These individuals live the vision and mission every moment of every day, and we salute them for their distinguished efforts! All of us in the Cannon County School District stand behind these outstanding individuals and wish them the very best as they represent the finest of Cannon County educators in the Upper Cumberland region of the State of Tennessee!”
For media inquiries, please contact William F. Curtis, Director of Cannon County Schools, at (629) 201-4801, ext. 10101, or at firstname.lastname@example.org for local Cannon County Schools information.