Dear Friends,

As school starts again, I cannot help but think of Tennessee’s teachers.

The teachers I know are busy creating engaging lesson plans, planning their own professional learning, and focusing intentionally on how best to help their students broaden and deepen their understanding so they are ready for the next week, the next grade, and beyond.

T8-2016 Jamie letterennessee teachers hold great expectations for the upcoming school year and spend countless hours before the students are even in the building preparing to make the new school year even better than the last. Teachers dream, and then they put their dreams into action to help their students achieve more.

I was privileged to see some of that drive and passion during the first convening of the 2016-17 Tennessee Educator Fellowship. Hailing from all parts of the state and teaching a wide variety of subjects, the Educator Fellows are brimming with big ideas for their classrooms, schools, profession, and students. It was clear from the days we spent with them that they have the drive to turn their ideas into reality.

As we look to the months ahead for our teachers and students, it is worth remembering the significant progress Tennessee has experienced in the last five years. This growth would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication, and leadership of so many Tennessee educators. Maintaining the progress will require empowering people at all levels – district leaders so they can set a student-focused vision, principals so they can drive instructional excellence, and, especially, teachers so they can lead, inform, and enliven conversations on education practices and policy.

So this August, please join me in thinking of Tennessee’s teachers and supporting these amazing educators – the teachers who stay late making sure their classroom is perfect for the first day, the teachers who spent chunks of their summer poring over books to better their instruction, the teachers who reach into their own pockets to pay for the materials their students need, and the teachers who took on a new leadership project and collaborated with other educators.

Thank you, teachers, for your dreams, your drive, and your commitment to students. The outlook for 2016-17 in Tennessee is bright because of your efforts.

Very sincerely yours,

Jamie Signature 4-2014