Erin McCullough


Nine Tullahoma City Schools educators were honored for their dedication and service to the students of Tullahoma at Monday night’s meeting of the school board.

One teacher from each of the four elementary and two middle schools, as well as three educators from Tullahoma High School, were given special recognition for all they do for their students by their respective principals, all of whom spoke of their appreciation and love for their nominees.

Nine Tullahoma City Schools educators were honored as building-level Teachers of the Year at Monday night’s meeting of the TCS School Board. In front from left are Amber Gluch (Jack T. Farrar), Loyce Sisco (Bel-Aire), Laura Lockmiller (Robert E. Lee) and Jennifer Lester (East Middle). In back are Dean Rodenbeck (Tullahoma High School), Cori Cole (West Middle), Mallory Taylor (East Lincoln), Sgt. Maj. Ricard Ramirez (THS) and Candace Terry (THS).

– Staff Photos by Erin McCullough

Director of Schools Dan Lawson congratulated all nine winners on their exemplary work.

“Teachers of the year, congratulations. Thanks for a job well done,” he said.

Each building-level winner for the 2017-2018 school year receives a check from the district for $100, while the three system winners receive another check for $150.

In addition to the checks from the district, the system winners also receive a $1,000 check from the Tullahoma Educational Foundation for Excellence for a job well done.



Tullahoma High School

Speaking on behalf of her nominees, THS Principal Kathy Rose told the audience the three high school teachers helped make a difference in their students’ lives every day.

The first of the THS nominees was math teacher Candace Terry.

“She is an outstanding math teacher,” Rose said.

Terry also serves as Rose’s “math conscience,” she said, joking that whenever she [Rose] makes any mention of not being “a math person or a numbers person,” Terry was at the ready to argue the contrary.

Rose said Terry always strives to make sure her students gain a deeper understanding of mathematics and carries her passion for math with her.

The second nominee for THS was English teacher Dean Rodenbeck.

Rose lauded Rodenbeck for being a role model for his students as well as a “life coach,” who is able to connect with students who needed it the most.

“Dean has that gift of making connections with kids who sometimes don’t have anyone to connect with,” she said.

Rose said his ability to make those connections allowed Rodenbeck to help students both in and out of the classroom.

The final nominee for THS was Sgt. Maj. Richard Ramirez, one of the Marine Corps JROTC instructors at THS.

Ramirez has been with the high school since the 2007 beginning of the JROTC program, Rose said, and has managed to do “an exemplary job” in teaching leadership to the young men and women in the program.

Three of the nine building-level winners also won district-level honors, receiving a check from the Tullahoma Educational Foundation for Excellence. This year’s district-level winners are Loyce Sisco (elementary), second from left, Sgt. Maj. Richard Ramirez (high school) and Jennifer Lester (middle). With the winners are Jim Henry, the president of the Tullahoma Educational Foundation for Excellence, far left, and Director of Schools Dan Lawson, far right.

“Our JROTC program,” Rose said, “we consider that to be one of our most successful programs, and I believe that Sgt. Maj Ramirez is an integral part of making that work.”

Not only was Sgt. Maj. Ramirez one of the high school winners, he was also selected as the high school-level district winner, Rose said.


West Middle School

The West Middle School nominee was sixth-grade language arts teacher Cori Cole.

Principal Mick Shuran told audience members that Cole was the “epitome” of teaching at West.

“In her classroom, she is the epitome of differentiated learning; she is the epitome of blended learning,” Shuran said.

“She works with those kids no matter [their] level,” he said.

He concluded by saying he was proud to have Cole represent the building as this year’s teacher of the year.


East Middle School

Principal Charles Lawson said his teacher of the year nominee, Jennifer Lester, has always been described by people he’s met who know her as “a difference maker.”

“Every person that I talked to at the high school level that knew of her and knew of her ability to work with kids, they described her as a difference-maker,” he said. “She truly made a difference for the kids in her class.”

Lawson agreed, saying that was the best way he had to describe her as well.

With that label, he said, it was his pleasure to laud Lester’s ability by announcing her as the EMS Teacher of the Year.

Lester is also the district winner for the middle school level.


Robert E. Lee Elementary School

Third-grade teacher Laura Lockmiller is this year’s Robert E. Lee Elementary School teacher of the year, Principal Woody Dillehay said.

Lockmiller is also the teacher sponsor for the REL yearbook, according to Dillehay, as well as a member of the REL Leadership Team.

“Laura is one of those teachers that brings people together rather than divide them,” Dillehay said. “She is a true leader in the building [and] she is compassionate.”

“Laura is the young lady who volunteers to work with the challenging children and does a superb job day in and day out,” he said.


East Lincoln Elementary School

Scott Hargrove, the East Lincoln principal, said hiring kindergarten teacher Mallory Taylor was “probably one of the best hires I’ve ever made,” when introducing her as his teacher of the year nominee.

“If you want to see enthusiasm for learning [and] enthusiasm for young kids, you need to come and watch Mallory teach,” Hargrove said.

Taylor frequently allows for more dynamic, hands-on learning in her classroom, Hargrove said, from singing and dancing to bird-watching and making pancakes.

“If you want to have a good time and watch a lot of great things going on in the classroom … check out what’s going on at East Lincoln,” Hargrove said.


Bel-Aire Elementary School

First-grade teacher Loyce Sisco is Bel-Aire’s teacher of the year, according to Principal April Norris.

“If you haven’t been in Loyce’s room, she has big Qs all over her room, and it’s called Sisco City,” Norris said. “The kids know when they’re in Sisco City, she’s looking for quality work [and] quality character and the kids know that they’re loved in her classroom.”

Sisco was also the district winner for the elementary-level, according to Norris.


Jack T. Farrar Elementary School

First-grade teacher Amber Gluch is the teacher of the year for Farrar Elementary.

Gluch has been with Farrar for about six years, according to former principal Susan Fanning, when she started work as a student teacher.

When she first started her student teaching, Fanning said, “You just automatically knew that this was a rock star.”

By the time she made her way to a fulltime teacher, Fanning said, Gluch was already acting as a seasoned professional, instead of the first-year educator she was.

“She was seasoned before she had the years under her belt,” Fanning said.

“Amber loves students, she’s innovative, she has an exciting classroom – there’s always something wonderful happening her classroom – and she is just the definition of what a teacher should be,” she said.

Erin McCullough may be reached at