I keep a poster above my desk that says, “What Would Dolly Do?” It is there for a couple of reasons, including — but not limited to — the fact that she is a national treasure. More importantly, it is a reminder of caring deeply about your home state’s success. It is a driving reason behind why I am so excited to join the SCORE team.

I have been fortunate to have opportunities to travel across Tennessee — from Ripley to Newport and, quite literally, every county in between. Every town in Tennessee is unique and faces its own challenges. What remains the same is the people. Tennesseans are hardworking, compassionate, and want the best for their kids. They are always the first to volunteer to help their neighbor, even if the neighbor is in another state. You’re welcome, Texas!

Ashley Warrington

I want to do everything I can to ensure Tennessee students have the resources they need to succeed. For me, that means making sure students have access to a quality education. I am looking forward to meeting with people across the state to learn how we can collaborate to ensure all students have a strong foundation in literacy and the ability to complete a postsecondary certificate or degree.

I was fortunate to have two parents who were passionate about ensuring I had a quality education. I will admit, it does help that they are both public school teachers. They instilled in me that education is the key to reaching any goal and the importance of a firm foundation in literacy.

Tennessee has done a phenomenal job of creating opportunities for postsecondary education. Whether it is the HOPE Scholarship, Tennessee Promise, or Tennessee Reconnect, we have created opportunities for students to have access to postsecondary education that is free or reduced in cost. It is now time for the hard work of ensuring that students take advantage of the opportunities and are supported to completion.

At the end of the day, education is what really matters for our kids. If a child cannot read, it does not matter what jobs are recruited to the state or how many different scholarships we offer for postsecondary opportunities. Without a strong foundation in literacy, kids won’t be able to take advantage of those opportunities. We have made a lot of progress in the last decade, and I am looking forward to working with partners to build on this success.

Ashley Warrington is SCORE’s director of advocacy.