The application window for the 2020-21 Tennessee Educator Fellowship is open through Monday, March 2. In a recent Q & A with SCORE, 2019-20 fellow Lauren Binkley reflected on her fellowship experience so far.

How have you grown from the fellowship?

As a Tennessee Educator Fellow, I’ve experienced growth unique to all the experiences I’ve had in my 12 years as an educator. Through collaboration with other passionate professionals and interactions with meaningful training and learning, I’ve developed my voice as an advocate in order to do my part in ensuring each student in Tennessee succeeds. I have grown in my understanding of the diversity that makes teaching and learning in Tennessee so exciting and learned of the many efforts to reach and teach every single student in our state. I’ve grown to understand that my voice matters and that saying “I’m just a teacher” is simply untrue. I’m a teacher, and I am SO proud to be, but I am also a learner, an advocate, and a change-maker for our students.              

What has the Tennessee Educator Fellowship empowered you to do for Tennessee students?

Before becoming a Tennessee Educator Fellow, I knew the students of our state deserved the very best, and I went to work each day determined to provide them just that. What I didn’t really understand was how I could use my voice as a teacher to make an impact both inside and outside of my school building. As a fellow, I am empowered with the knowledge and “know-how” to effectively share what our students need and to courageously involve many stakeholders in this important work. My advocacy this year focuses on the need for high-quality instructional materials for all students, and my work has only been strengthened by moving the conversation from within the walls of my own school building to a larger audience that includes district leaders, families, and community members. These rich interactions have proven to me that when we all come together, students win.

What is an experience that you’ve had as a fellow that surprised you?

My experience has been full of delightful surprises, but perhaps what has impacted me most is the opportunity to meet so many people so committed to doing what’s right for Tennessee students. In our current culture, teaching is a difficult job! I have been so encouraged by meeting stakeholders from all parts of the community who believe in teachers and believe our students deserve the best. That confidence and support gives me energy to continue our important work for students.             

Why should an educator consider applying for the Tennessee Educator Fellowship?

If you are a Tennessee educator with a heart for students and a belief that our students deserve — and are capable of — the very best, the Tennessee Educator Fellowship is for you. This fellowship builds on your passion and expertise in order to impact teaching and learning in our state and continue Tennessee’s journey to success for all.

Lauren Binkley is an educator for Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Learn more and apply. Applications are due by 11:59 pm CST on Monday, March 2. If you have questions, please refer to our FAQ. You may also contact SCORE’s Director of Educator Engagement, Leigh Cooksey, at