The Tennessee State Teacher Fellows Program launched in 2015 with 30 exceptional teacher leaders from across the state.
Reflecting the diversity of Tennessee’s education landscape, these educators have teaching experience ranging from 2 years to 41 years. Teacher Fellows will meet with local and state leaders to help create practical solutions to address public education policy issues. Additionally, Teacher Fellows will work to provide peer feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on critical classroom education policies.
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Tennessee State Teacher Fellows
Jarred Amato now teaches High School English after teaching eighth grade English at Jere Baxter Middle Prep for the past six years. In 2015, he received the Metro Nashville Public Schools Blue Ribbon Teacher award, as well the Teacher of the Year award for his school. During the 2014-15 school year, Jarred participated in the Tennessee SCORE Educator Fellowship and the MNPS Teacher Leadership Institute, while also serving on the East Nashville Advisory Committee. Jarred is the head coach of the Red Hawk football and boys’ basketball teams, and has sponsored the school newspaper and student council in the past. He received his B.A. in English and History from Vanderbilt University and his M.A.T. from Belmont University, and he will begin pursuing his Ed.D. from Lipscomb University this fall.
Mark has taught at Sango Elementary for 15 years and is the Lead K-5 Physical Educator for his district. He loves attending and presenting at local, state, and regional workshops/conferences. Mark was a co-recipient of the 2011 Share the Wealth Puckett-Merriman Physical Education Professional Award. He has published several items and most recently an e-book “I Teach More Than Gym: A Collection of Elementary Physical Education Activities.” Mark is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University (BS ‘98), Austin Peay State University (MS ‘00), and is a National Board Certified Teacher (2013). Mark is an Elder and the Senior High Youth Director at his church. He spent seven years as a volunteer firefighter and eight as a Montgomery County Commissioner.
Michael is an Instructional Coach at Alcoa Elementary School. He has been an educator for 11 years. He received the East Tennessee PreK-4 Teacher of the Year in 2014 and the Wal-Mart teacher of the year in 2004. Michael is currently working on the Tennessee Standards Mathematics Review Committee and as a Teacher Partner in his school collaborating with teachers to impact student achievement. He was a Common Core Mathematics Coach in 2013. He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Bachelor’s of Science and a Masters Degree in Child and Family Studies. He holds an Education Specialist Degree in Instructional Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University.
Monica Brown teaches 4th grade reading/language arts and social studies at Oakhaven Elementary. She is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher who has taught in Shelby County for 8 years. Monica presently serves as 4th grade level chairperson at Oakhaven, chairperson of the New Teacher Committee of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, and as a Teacher Leader Organizer with the Tennessee Education Association Teacher Leader Network. Monica was selected as a 4th grade ELA Master Teacher with the NEA-Better Lesson Master Teacher Project and a Sontag Prize in Urban Education ELA Award recipient. Monica earned a K-6 Teaching Certification from Crichton College, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Memphis, and a Master of Health Systems Management from Tulane University.
April Carrigan is the Math Coach at Franklin Elementary School in Franklin Special School District located in Franklin, Tennessee. She has been at Franklin Elementary for three years. Previously, she taught for eight years at Westwood Elementary School in Williamson County School District located in Fairview, Tennessee. April has been an educator for eleven years and has taught 3rd grade, 2nd grade, and Kindergarten. She has served as a member of Franklin Special School District’s Advisory Council and Franklin Elementary School’s Shared Leadership Team. April also served as a Common Core Learning Leader and was selected as a participant in the TNDOE and Institute for Learning research project as a Math Instructional Coach. She graduated from Aquinas College with a degree in Elementary Education. April holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Trevecca University and an Administrative Licensure from Lipscomb University.
Lara has taught English at Collierville High School for the past eleven years. In that time, Lara has served as the English Department Chair, Formative Assessment Trainer, PLC Lead Teacher, and Professional Learning Teacher Leader. She was named Teacher of the Year for Collierville High School in both 2011 and 2012. She has trained teachers from across the state as an ELA Core Coach for the Tennessee Department of Education, and she holds a Bachelors and Masters degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. In 2013, she earned a doctorate in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis.
Natalie has taught seventh grade language arts at Shafer Middle School for six years and was named Shafer Teacher of the Year for 2013-14. She sponsors the school literature and arts magazine, was a TNCore Learning Leader for 2014-15, and has served on district planning committees and as part of the Mid-Cumberland CORE Region Teacher Roundtable Discussion. Natalie graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2009 and was awarded Peabody College’s Kevin Longinetti Award for Outstanding Secondary-Level Teaching. Outside of school, she tutors for Christian Women’s Job Corps of Middle Tennessee, where she has volunteered for seven years.
A former high school marketing teacher with Jefferson County, Tina is currently the Instructional Technology Specialist for Hawkins County Schools where she works with teachers and administrators across 18 schools to integrate technology in K-12 classrooms. A Tennessee Department of Education iTunesU featured presenter, Tina has presented at numerous professional conferences including Tennessee’s first EdTech Summit. An advocate for technology integration, Tina works with professional societies to plan, and produce annual technology conferences for teachers across Tennessee. Tina holds a B.S. in Business/Marketing Education, an M.S. in Human Resource Development, and an Ed.S. in Instructional Technology from the University of Tennessee. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D at Liberty University.
Julia Geiger is a fifth grade teacher at Hawkins Elementary in Rogersville, Tennessee. Julia was recognized as Hawkins County Teacher of the Year, grades 5-8, 2012. She has served on many school and system leadership committees focusing on improvement. In 2014, Julia was selected to be a Teacher Leader in the Hawkins County School System through 2016. Julia earned her B.S. Degree in Elementary Education from Transylvania University in Kentucky. Following an internship with the Committee on Education and the Workforce in Washington D.C., Julia completed her Masters through the University of Tennessee and her Ed.S from Lincoln Memorial University.
Prior to becoming a teacher, Adam worked as an engineer in Memphis and relocated to Nashville in 2009. After becoming a Nashville Teaching Fellow in 2010, he taught Mathematics at Glencliff High School. At the start of his second year of teaching, he was given the lead teacher position of Glencliff’s Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning, which he currently holds. Adam has a BS and MA in Civil engineering from UTK and an MAT from Belmont University. He was chosen as the Academy Teacher of the year in 2013. Adam is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, National Council of Mathematics Teachers and a faculty advisor for both the ACE mentoring group and the Technology Student Association.
With twenty years of teaching experience, Debbie holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, a Master of Education as a Reading Specialist, and an Educational Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision from Middle Tennessee State University. A former President of the Murfreesboro Education Association, Debbie currently serves on the National Advisory Board for Scholastic, is a Mentor Teacher for MTSU’s MTeach Program, a judge for CODiE Awards of the Software & Information Industry Association, is on the Member Advisory Panel for the National Education Association and has written numerous grants totalling more than $10,000 during her teaching career. Debbie is actively involved in The Last Minute Toy Store, Haiti Relief, Feed the Hunger, and Blue Raider Athletic Association.
Melinda Hirschmann teaches 6th-8th grade reading intervention and language arts at West Wilson Middle School in Wilson County. Melinda has served as the Exceptional Education department head for seven of her nine years at the school and has served on the school’s Leadership & Advisory PLC team for the past three years. She has mentored pre-tenure teachers, and she currently serves as a Tennessee Promise mentor to support high school seniors in their transition to college. She earned her doctorate degree in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change from Lipscomb University in 2014. Melinda holds a Master of Education degree from Tennessee State University.
Melody Kay Hobbs teaches at Lenoir City Elementary School, where she also serves as the system’s Preschool Program Coordinator. She has worked in the field of early childhood education since 1994 and Melody has presented at numerous state and national early childhood conferences. She served as a field mentor for the University of Tennessee and was awarded Elementary Teacher of the Year for Lenoir City Schools in 2011. She has authored articles for Action in Teacher Education and The Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. Melody holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development and a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education, both from East Tennessee State University. In 2014, Melody was named Outstanding Graduate Student for the Department of Teaching and Learning.
Cheryl Killebrew is aInstructional Facilitator and Federal Programs Coordinator at Krisle Elementary. During her nine years in Robertson County, Cheryl taught fifth grade at Coopertown Middle for five years before becoming an Instructional Facilitator. She provides on-going school level coaching and district level professional development. In 2008, Cheryl received an award for the Highest 5th Grade TVAAS Science Scores and the FOX 17 Top Teacher Award. She also served on the Board of Directors at the International Christian School in Hong Kong. As a graduate of Mississippi College, Cheryl earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and graduated with Special Distinction.
Blake teaches seventh grade math at Aspire Hanley in Memphis. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Science in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University, and he earned a Master’s degree in Urban Education through the Memphis Teacher Residency. Blake serves as the chairperson for the Hanley Advisory School Council and the middle grades Math Driver at his school. Including his residency, Blake is entering his third year of teaching.
Nikki has taught in Clarksville Montgomery County for five years serving on the school leadership team for four, and she currently works as an Intervention Specialist at Barkers Mill Elementary School. She has served as a TDOE 3-5 Math Core Coach during the 2014-2015 and will serve in the current 2015-2016 year. During her time as a core coach, she trains teachers across the state emphasizing strategies that encourage students to conceptualize mathematics and deepen teacher content knowledge. Nikki holds her undergraduate degree in K-6 Education from Austin Peay State University, and she is currently perusing a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University.
Josalyn Tresvant McGhee is a 5th Grade Reading/English Language Arts Teacher at Knight Road Elementary School. Josalyn also served for four years as the Special Education Instructional Resource Teacher. In 2014, she was named a member of the 2014-2016 Bill and Melinda Gates Teacher Advisory Council where she collaborated with 50 other teacher leaders from across the country on educational issues. In 2013, she was named a Fishman Prize winner for TNTP and was a member of the 2012-2013 Teach Plus Policy Fellowship. Josalyn has also served as a seminar instructor for Memphis Teaching Fellows. She holds a Master of Education from The University of Memphis, a Master of Business Administration from Union University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of TN at Chattanooga.
Nancy, a National Board Certified Teacher, has taught Multiage (K-2), second, and third grades since 2002. She holds a BBA in Marketing from University of Louisiana, and began a second career in education having earned a Masters in Teaching from East Tennessee State University. Currently at South Side Elementary, she is an ELA Learning Leader and, in 2013, was regional finalist for Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year. She’s presented at numerous regional conferences, and has won STEM and Literacy grants totaling $12,000. Nancy serves on the Advisory Board of Hands-On Children’s Museum. Last Spring, she participated in NBCT’s Congressional Panel in Washington, DC.
Brian Moffitt teaches seventh and eighth grade history and technology at Black Oak Elementary School in Obion County. He is a TNCore social studies coach, SCORE educator fellow and steering committee member, and is the chairman of the Obion County Schools Technology Advisory Committee. A former newspaper sports editor and football coach, Brian is leading the organization of a Tennessee state-wide Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching (ECET2) conference in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a graduate of Western Carolina University. Brian is entering his ninth year teaching with Obion County Schools.
Crystal has taught at Camden Elementary for six years teaching PreK-2nd grade general music and reading intervention and serves as RTI Co- Coordinator. Crystal served as the Benton County Education Association president 2013-2015, is an active member of Delta Kappa Gamma, and was named Distinguished Educator of West Tennessee by the Tennessee Education Association in 2014. Crystal is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin where she earned a B.M. in Music Education. As a life-learner, she has also earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and an Ed.D. in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.
Michelle Polier is Bradley County School’s Special Education Math Instructional Coordinator. Previous to becoming a Coordinator, she spent five years working as a Special Education Teacher at Lake Forest Middle School. She has had the opportunity to serve on various committees within her district. In 2015, she presented at the state PIE conference in Nashville, and was selected to participate on South East Tennessee’s Panel for evaluating math interventions. Michelle holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lee University.
Rebecca is a mathematics instructional coach at Bradley Academy and the Mitchell Neilson Schools in Murfreesboro, TN. She has been a mathematics core coach for the state of Tennessee for three years and is a member of the Tennessee Department of Education and Institute for Learning Coaching Cohort. Rebecca has served on numerous committees including the state textbook adoption committee and the Constructed Response Assessment Range finding committee. She was awarded an MSP grant from the TN Department of Education in September 2014. The grant integrated math and science in grades 3-5 and was a partnership between Murfreesboro City Schools and Middle Tennessee State University. Rebecca has a master of curriculum and instruction from Middle Tennessee State University.
Dana is a K-5th Grade English as a Second Language teacher at Sycamore Elementary in the Collierville School District. She has played an active role at the school, district, state and national level, serving on various committees such as the TNDOE Race to the Top ESL Evaluation, shaping ESL state and national assessments, and contributing regularly to ESL journals and other media outlets. Dana received the West TN ESL Teacher of the Year Award (2014). Best of the Best Presentation at the TNTESOL Conference (2011), and the TN School Board Association Excellence in Education (2007-09). Her school has been recognized by the USDOE as developing and implementing a Promising/Model ESL Program (2012), She has also been honored by her colleagues as a Teacher of the Month and Year. A graduate of St. Mary’s Dominican in New Orleans, she holds a Masters degree from National University in CA, ESL credentials, and completed Post-Masters Literacy Acquisition work at Cal State San Bernardino.
Mike has taught at Coffee County Central High School for the past nine years. Before that, he taught for three years in Metro Nashville Public Schools. He has recently presented at the Tennessee Reading Association Conference, Teach Meet Nashville, the TNTESOL Conference, and the Tennessee Educational Technology Conference. Mike has twice been honored to serve the state as a TNCore ELA Coach. He graduated from Tennessee Tech with a Bachelor’s Degree in secondary education and a minor in English. He then earned a Master’s Degree from Austin Peay in curriculum and instruction with a concentration on instructional technology. From there, he obtained a Specialist in Education Degree from Tennessee Tech in curriculum and instruction with a concentration on ESL.
Alicia Anne, “Pam”, teaches grades K-5 in an ABC/ISS class at East Lake Elementary School, in the Hamilton County School System in Chattanooga, TN. She’s been in education for 41 years. Pam served as an AR for five years, is presently serving on her locals BOD, and is a member of the TEA Board of Directors. Pam has received an HCEA Outstanding Member Award, WDEF Educator of the Week Award, and was honored as an Outstanding Educator of Peabody College at Vanderbilt. She holds a B.S. from Tennessee State University, M.S. from Vanderbilt University, and an M.Ed from Trevecca University.
Alisha Thompson is a 15 year educator who teachers at Midway Elementary in Roane County. In 2012, she became the school-wide Literacy Leader after receiving an EDS as a Reading Specialist from Tennessee Technological University. Alisha holds a Master of Instructional Leadership from Tennessee Tech and a B.S. in Human Learning from Tennessee Wesleyan College. Alisha was named Teacher of the Year by her peers in 2006. Alisha served on the SAACCS committee chair in 2007, Leadership committee 2013-2015, the Focus grant committee in 2013, the Advance ED committee in 2014, and the RtI team chair 2013-2015. Alisha is a mentor to local high school students through the TN Achieves scholarship program.
Dr. Elaine Vaughan is a mathematics instructor at Oak Ridge High School for 20 years. She is a National Board Certified teacher, Professional Learning Communities Coach, and member of the Response to Intervention district and school board. Elaine is also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and serves on the XI State Vision Board. Through this organization, she received both state and international scholarships. Elaine was a state mathematics textbook reviewer during the 2013-2014 school year. Elaine received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Tennessee and her doctorate from Walden University.
Karen Vogelsang has taught elementary grades for twelve years. The past eight have been at Keystone Elementary in Shelby County Schools. This fall she begins a new chapter at Riverwood Elementary in 4th grade. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, and a mentor for candidates pursuing certification. Karen currently serves as the 2015 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. She has served as a Learning Coach, a Common Core Math coach for the state of Tennessee, and recently served on the state Math Textbook Adoption Team. Karen holds a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Memphis.
Marc Walls has taught science at Northeast High School for two years. He has served as a leader in STEM integration, facilitating in services during the summer and serving as a mentor to elementary and middle school teachers. Marc worked with a team of colleagues to rewrite the physical science curriculum used in his school system. He is a graduate of his district’s Leadership Development course and was accepted into the Aspiring Administrator’s Academy. Marc was selected for the Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute as an advocate for Autism awareness and active volunteer in his community. He is a graduate of Austin Peay State University and hold’s a Master of School Administration from Bethel University.
Comeshia Williams is a Title I PLC Coach at Northaven K-8 School. She has 15 years of experience as a 1st and 4th grade teacher with the Shelby County School System. She has served as a mentor, learning coach, and master teacher. A graduate from the University of Memphis, Comeshia was named 2000 Student Teacher of the Year. She holds a Masters of School Administration from Trevecca Nazarene University and an Ed.S. in Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Memphis. She received the 2015 Outstanding School Leadership Graduate Student Award. She is also a licensed Professional School Counselor.
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