Introducing the 2014-15 TN Teacher of the Year Finalists

These talented regional winners span the state and have helped thousands of Tennessee students learn and grow. You can read more about our 2014-15 Teacher of the Year, Karen Vogelsang, in this post.

West Tennessee Regional Winners

Karen Vogelsang

Karen Vogelsang, Keystone Elementary, Memphis

Meet, Karen Vogelsang. Karen teaches third grade at Keystone Elementary in Shelby County. In her application essay, she describes how she realized the classroom was her home.

“I spent 14 years in the banking industry before I pursued a master’s degree in elementary education. The first time I had an opportunity to teach it was electrifying; I knew then I had made the right decision to become a teacher.”

Read more from Karen in this blog post about her classroom.


Becky McBride, Brighton High, Tipton County

Meet, Becky McBride. Becky teaches ninth-grade English at Brighton High School in Tipton County. Becky describes how she measures her success as teacher.

“If I have inspired someone to follow their dream, I have done my job. If I have encouraged someone during a difficult time, I have done my job. If I have helped a struggling learner overcome their fear of failure, I have done my job.”

Read more from Becky in this blog post about her classroom.


Kerri Newsom

Kerri Newsom, Margaret Newton Elementary, Lake County

Meet, Kerri Newsom. Kerri teaches first grade at Margaret Newton Elementary in Lake County and describes discovering her passion early in life.

“Growing up in a family of educators, I saw teaching as my dream job, my ultimate goal, my life’s calling, and my purpose for existing. There has never been a time that I did not want to teach.”


Tracy Harmon pix

Tracy Harmon, Franklin High, Williamson County

Middle Tennessee Regional Winners

Meet, Tracy Harmon. Tracy is a math teacher at Franklin High School (this is her 17th year at Franklin High).

“It’s my experience that whatever level a child is at, confidence in their own ability to achieve makes the largest difference in their outcome.”


Chris Simpson

Chris Simpson, Ingram Sowell Elementary, Lawrence County

Congratulations, Chris Simpson! Chris teaches sixth-grade science and social studies at Ingram Sowell Elementary in Lawrence County.

“Watching students realize that they can achieve, even though they didn’t believe they could, leaves me with a well of emotion that can’t go dry.”


Shannon Streett, Woodbury Grammar, Cannon County

Meet, Shannon Streett! Shannon teaches middle school language arts at Woodbury Grammar in Cannon County.

“My chosen profession allows me to wake up every morning and go to a job I love, work with some of the most special children in this world, and continue my own quest for learning alongside professional colleagues with similar visions.”


Heather Burkhart, Pigeon Forge Middle, Sevier County

East Tennessee Regional Winners

Congratulations, Heather Burkhart! Heather teaches math at Pigeon Forge Middle in Sevier County.

“I realize that for some of my students school is their safest home, therefore, I go to great lengths to make sure our classroom is a positive learning environment.”


Cecily Williams, Cleveland Middle, Cleveland City

Congratulations, Cecily Williams! Cecily teaches sixth-grade math, science, and social studies at Cleveland Middle in Cleveland City Schools.

“’Teaching is not what it used to be’ is a common phrase heard throughout education circles. I would agree with this sentiment, but I say it with a different tone. I am glad it is not what it used to be. I am a better teacher now than I used to be and do not want to be what I used to be.”


Ashley Carter, John Adams Elementary, Kingsport City Schools

Introducing, Ashley Carter. Ashley teaches third grade at John Adams Elementary in Kingsport City Schools.

“Teaching is the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. It is more than a job or career; it is a calling. To be successful, I must be a continuous learner and reflector in order to design engaging lessons that provide my students with a world-class education.”