Letter From Jamie Woodson: Road Trips And Roadmaps: Collaborating To Create A Brighter Future For Tennessee Students

Dear Friends,

Summer road trips are a quintessential American tradition. They allow us to discover new things and connect with people and places. In 2009, SCORE took a road trip across Tennessee, visiting and getting feedback from people across the state. Those thoughts and conversations led to the release of A Roadmap to Success, which laid out a specific plan for improving Tennessee student achievement and was foundational to the path Tennessee has taken over the last eight years.

This summer, members of our team embarked on a new educational road trip to learn from people across the state. We invited education stakeholders to a series of regional community conversations to hear their ideas on how Tennessee can deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for all students.

These conversations allow us to take a closer look at our progress and future goals and gather thoughts from a diverse set of Tennesseans invested in our state’s K-12 education system. They once again deepened our understanding of both the challenges and successes individual communities face when it comes to preparing all students for a successful future. Some of those challenges are unique to an area, while others are indicative of wider issues across the state.

Among those issues that emerged across the state, three themes emerged:

• An urgency to address reading in the early grades
• A desire to invest in teachers through improvements both in teacher preparation programs and in teacher professional development
• A focus on aligning efforts between businesses, higher education, and K-12 schools to prepare students for next steps after high school.

SCORE has listened carefully during this summer’s road trips, and what you told us is going to shape a new report we plan to release in the fall that can guide the work of better serving students in the coming years.

While we have grown so much as a state, we still have much more to do. It will take participation and collaboration from all partners to achieve our goals for our students. The summer conversations from this summer education “road trip” renewed both our sense of urgency and our commitment to collaboration, so that from Memphis to Chattanooga, Nashville to the Tri-Cities, every student is prepared for their future after high school.

Very truly yours,

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Jamie Woodson

Jamie Woodson sets the strategic vision for SCORE as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and leads SCORE’s executive team and the organization’s efforts to build and strengthen partnerships with leaders in Tennessee and across the nation. She has been a leading figure in spearheading Tennessee’s efforts to better prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce. Prior to joining SCORE, she served for more than 12 years in the Tennessee General Assembly in both the House and Senate. As Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and later as Senate Speaker Pro Tempore, Jamie was a key leader in efforts to identify and support effective teaching, overhaul Tennessee’s K-12 education funding formula, raise academic standards for Tennessee students, turn around low-performing schools, and expand high-quality public charter schools in Tennessee. In addition, she was a key leader in Tennessee’s work to transform public higher education by aligning Tennessee’s postsecondary system and the state’s economic goals through changes in academic, fiscal, and administrative policies. As a citizen legislator, she also served as general counsel for an East Tennessee manufacturing firm. Jamie attended public schools in Tennessee and received a Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was selected as “Torchbearer,” which is the highest honor an undergraduate may receive from the university.

The SCORE Sheet is the online conversation on public education reform in Tennessee and is hosted by SCORE. The blog mirrors SCORE’s collaborative nature and features contributors from Tennessee and across the country including students, parents, teachers, policymakers, community groups, and members of SCORE’s team. Regardless of perspective, contributors share a common goal: that every child graduates from high school prepared for college or the workforce.

Posts on The SCORE Sheet are the opinions of the individual contributors and are not necessarily reflective of the opinions and positions of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).