Dear Friends,

Teachers encourage confidence and model success for students. They guide students through difficult times, and inspire them to follow their dreams. Eighty-eight percent of American adults reported having a teacher who made a difference in their life. What other profession has the potential to impact the lives of others in such a meaningful, lasting, and personal way?

When I think of great teachers, of course I think of educators who have personally changed my life, such as my AP American History teacher, Mrs. Ruth Dunning, who challenged me with rigorous coursework and inspired me to pursue public service. But I also think of so many Tennessee teachers I have met through SCORE’s Tennessee Educator Fellowship, Elevating and Celebrating Teachers and Teaching (ECET 2), the Tennessee Teacher Leadership Collaborative (TTLC), and other recent initiatives to empower teachers. One inspiring trait I see in all of these teachers is their willingness to go above and beyond to help their students succeed – whether that means creating a math competition for grade-schoolers in Southeast Tennessee, engaging students in a campaign to end book deserts, or working with policymakers and other education stakeholders to advance student-focused policies.

Our educators embrace their unique position to shape future generations. That fact is both a weighty responsibility, which compels them to spend countless hours working for students after the school day, but also the motivation for their dedication, which wakes them up the next day ready to continue. They know their work directly shapes the future.

We see both in research and in experience that teachers have a sizable impact on student achievement. Because of that, SCORE prioritizes accelerating support for educators. During National Teacher Appreciation Month, SCORE, along with other education partners, has launched Teach Today. Change Tomorrow., a statewide teacher empowerment campaign to inspire the next generation of teachers and empower current Tennessee teachers. We have announced the 2017-18 cohort of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship, empowering more educators with the skills to advocate for their students and profession. And our work to improve educator preparation programs and teacher leadership opportunity continues to advance.

Those of us at SCORE are not the ones who spend an extra hour after school with students explaining the Pythagorean Theorem or stay up late meticulously reading and providing feedback to students on their English reports. We do not differentiate instruction to give one student a larger challenge, while at the same time helping another master a concept for the first time. Our state’s teachers are the ones who do all those things. The SCORE role is to support those educators by providing research on quality preparation programs, offering excellent leadership opportunities, and advocating for improved compensation.

In the words of 2015-16 Tennessee Educator Fellow Megan England, “We rise to the challenge of providing what each student needs to be successful.” We salute all Tennessee educators who by their hard work, talent, and dedication help all our students achieve more.

Very truly yours,