Dear Friends,

Whenever I spend time with the Tennessee Educator Fellows, their passion and commitment to achieve great things for their students always impresses me. Each cohort of educators astounds me with their thoughtful reflections and drive to become the advocates their students need.

Right now the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) is accepting applications from outstanding K-12 educators for the next cohort of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship. Teachers, librarians, school counselors, and interventionists who work in K-12 public schools in Tennessee have the opportunity through the fellowship to create high-level impact beyond the classroom.

One dynamic example is the work Dr. Diarese George started as a 2016-17 fellow. During his fellowship, Diarese selected improving teaching diversity as his key issue, and he founded the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance to elevate the voice, presence, and support for educators of color. This work has culminated in the inaugural leadership conference later this week that brings together education leaders from across the state, including Commissioner Candice McQueen, Dr. Shawn Joseph of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Dr. Marlon King of Fayette County Public Schools, and Dr. Bryan Johnson of Hamilton County Department of Education, as well as the Tennessee Teacher of the Year, Cicely Woodard, as the keynote speaker.

Diarese’s work is making a difference for students and teachers because, as recommended in SCORE’s Prepared For Day One report, Tennessee needs to improve the racial and ethnic diversity in the teaching population to better serve our student population.

Two fellows in this year’s cohort are focusing their advocacy on early literacy. Tom Loud and Katie McGhee are advocating with educators in the state to increase access to high-quality instructional materials to improve reading and writing for our youngest students. Tom and Katie both teach first grade, in Blount County Schools and Sullivan County Schools respectively.

Expanding access to aligned, high-quality, and affordable materials is recommended to support every Tennessee student to become a strong reader and writer in SCORE’s latest report, Excellence For All: How Tennessee Can Lift Our Students To Best In The Nation. This work is vital to improving Tennessee’s early literacy rates to ensure greater, long-term student success.

If you know a Tennessee K-12 teacher, librarian, school counselor, or interventionist who is ready to become a high-powered and empowered teacher-leader, please encourage them to apply for the fifth Tennessee Educator Fellowship by the March 2 deadline. I am eager to see the impact that the next cohort of dedicated educators has in lifting Tennessee students to greater academic achievement.

Very truly yours,