People often ask me what my favorite part of SCORE Prize is. Hands down it is the opportunity to make 12 site visits to the finalist schools and districts to observe, interview, and learn from teachers and school/district leaders, who are getting great results for Tennessee students. I walk away from these visits renewed and inspired, convinced that our collective efforts over the last few years are yielding positive change for Tennessee students.

The fourth annual SCORE Prize honored this year’s amazing schools and districts that are leaders in school learning on Monday, October 27, during an inspiring program at Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville that announced our winners:

  • Dresden Elementary School (Weakley County)
  • Hillsboro Elementary/Middle School (Williamson County)
  • Covington High School (Tipton County)
  • Kingsport City Schools


Officials from all 12 finalist schools and districts came together with the state’s top leaders – including Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell – to celebrate the amazing work being done in education in Tennessee. The event also featured the winners of SCORE’s Students Rising to the Challenge competition and a performance by country music artist and CMT’s Empowering Education spokesperson Dustin Lynch. To relive the event, SCORE has put together a highlight video with clips from the event.

Beyond the positive feeling generated by the SCORE Prize event, I enjoy the opportunity to witness clear evidence of strategies that the SCORE Prize finalists and winners are employing to get such great results. As an analyst by training, I can’t help but pick up on a few common themes from this year’s visits which include:

  • High Standards. In every school I visited this fall, students and parents told me about the importance of high standards. I heard from students as young as Kindergarten tell me about the high academic, cultural, and social expectations that they were held to. School and district leaders pointed to high standards, too, as a foundational element of their success.
  • Excellent Teaching. One of the things that I enjoyed the most this year was the amazing teaching going on in the classrooms I visited. I witnessed teams of teachers working together to ensure equally rigorous instruction while still maintaining the important “art” of teaching. This resulted in classrooms that looked very different but were all focused on rigorous content and student-led learning.
  • Strong Leadership. Perhaps the strongest connective thread I saw between all finalist schools and districts was excellent leadership. The SCORE Prize often includes very different schools within each prize category – rural and urban, poor and affluent, traditional and charter. In spite of these differences, finalist schools and districts have leaders at the helm who cast a vision that includes high expectations and a focus on college and career for all students.


The stories of these schools and districts are inspiring. More than that, they serve as important guideposts for what is possible. Please watch the video, visit the SCORE Prize website, and look for future posts on The SCORE Sheet to learn more about the best practices used by the finalists and winners.