Two teachers from Hamilton County Schools have advanced to the next round in the selection of the Tennessee Teacher of the Year. Sara Pratt from Apison Elementary and Kristin Robertson from Signal Mountain Middle High are Southeast Region-level finalists in the selection process.
Ms. Pratt and Ms. Robertson earned Hamilton County Schools Teacher of the Year honors in January.
Ms. Pratt has spent all four years of her teaching career working with fourth-graders at Apison Elementary School. "Ms. Pratt encourages achievement by creating a culture of respect and authentic learning in her classroom," officials said. "She celebrates the struggle that can lead to growth by recognizing when her students’ thinking has evolved from learning. Pratt builds her instruction around the individual student and teaches through unique activities in which her students can actively participate."
“Children find that in my class they will struggle with problems, but in that struggle there is growth,” said Ms. Pratt. “We celebrate this struggle and growth process by recognizing when our thinking has evolved as a result of learning.” Video of Ms. Pratt working in the classroom.
Ms. Robertson teaches ninth-grade English at Signal Mountain Middle High School, where she has been since 2013. She previously taught at Soddy Daisy High. Ms. Robertson also taught 8th-grade language arts. Also, Ms. Robertson serves as a personal project instructor to 25 students, working with them to complete their culminating personal project for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program. "By attending sporting events and interacting with students in the community, Robertson builds positive relationships with her students," officials said. "Robertson’s classroom climate of high expectations encourages students to take academic risks and embrace challenges."
“Teachers who form relationships see the most authentic growth and learning because their students know that their teacher believes in them and wants to invest in their lives,” Ms. Robertson said. “I use the information I gain from forming relationships to invent fun activities that hook student’s interest.” Video of Ms. Robertson working in the classroom.
The Tennessee Teacher of the Year program seeks to recognize and honor outstanding teachers who devote themselves to their students and show gains in exceptional academic achievement.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education website, the goals of the program include:
• Promoting effective teaching practices by recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers
• Engaging regional teachers of the year in education policymaking through the Teacher Advisory Council
• Encouraging participation by every school in the state so that all Tennessee teachers may be recognized and rewarded
• Building a network of local and state corporate sponsors
• Providing a network for teachers to share effective practices
• Encouraging a sense of professionalism in teaching
• Encouraging greater participation in building a strong community-school partnership
The selection timeline for the Tennessee Teacher of the Year begins on the individual school level, with peers selecting a teacher from each of the following grade bands: PreK-fourth, fifth – eighth, and ninth – 12th. Local school district select teachers of the year from those bands. A total of 27 teachers were selected finalists at the regional level.
Nine teachers are chosen as Region-level winners and travel to Nashville, where all are recognized. Three grand division winners representing the east, middle, and west are announced, as well as the final winner of the Tennessee Teacher of the Year award. The final winner represents Tennessee in the national competition and serves as an ambassador for education throughout the year.
The Region-level winners are announced between May and June.