A Tullahoma High School teacher has been named a finalist in the statewide competition to be the next Teacher of the Year.

Samantha Stevens.jpg

Samantha Stevens

Dr. Samantha Stevens, a THS math teacher, was named the finalist for the South Central CORE Region by the Tennessee Department of Education Wednesday, June 24.

Stevens is now one of nine finalists across the state for the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year award, according to the education department.

Districts were able to nominate three educators representing each of the three grade bands (elementary, middle and high school) to be a finalist in the competition. More than 200 applications were received by the state education department. A preliminary list of 27 semifinalists was selected out of those applications.

“The 2019-20 school year has reminded all of us how deeply communities appreciate our educators and value their work,” said Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn. “Even in the face of uncertainty, educators across the state have continued to demonstrate their passion and commitment to our students in a new and unprecedented learning environment. We are thankful and proud to have exceptional leaders like these finalists in our state serving our students.”

Teacher of the Year candidates are nominated by their peers on the local level before being reviewed by a panel once they move on to further rounds of competition.

In order to qualify for the competition, candidates must have been teaching full time for a least three years, have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning and be effective school and community leaders, according to the state.

As a finalist, Stevens will have the opportunity to serve on Commissioner Schwinn’s Teacher Advisory Council for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year. The council acts as a working group of expert teachers to provide feedback and inform the work of the department throughout the school year.

Stevens is not the first Tullahoma educator to serve on that council. Chelle Daniels was selected as a finalist for the 2017-2018 school year and served on the council.

The next step for Stevens is a panel interview, where a single Grand Division winner and the Tennessee Teacher of the Year will be selected.

The entire group of finalists, as well as the sole winner, will be announced at an honorary banquet held by the department this fall.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.

Staff Writer

Erin McCullough has won awards for her news reporting, community lifestyles and education reporting in the three years she's been a journalist. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and currently lives in Tullahoma with her cat, Luna.

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