Meet the 2018 Teacher of the Year Finalists

These educators inspire and encourage their students to learn and grow every day. They were named Region-level Teachers of the Year, and one of them will be named the 2017-18 Tennessee Teacher of the Year on Sept. 28. Read more about each of these outstanding educators below.

West Tennessee Region-level Winners

Meet Mandy Fraley.

Mandy Fraley

Mandy teaches sixth-grade social studies and English language arts at Northeast Middle School in Jackson-Madison County Schools.

“I believe that as a teacher it is my job to inspire my students to be life-long learners. It is my goal to motivate students to push themselves beyond what they thought they ever imagined they would achieve.”

Meet Carol Nanney.Carol Nanney

Carol is a librarian at McKenzie Elementary School in McKenzie Special School District.

“First, we must believe in the value and importance of human connections. Our students come to us from a variety of backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and a wide variety of skill sets.  We must not only be conscious of our students’ learning style and abilities, but also their interest, personality, and background. These necessary human connections are established by building a level of trust in the classroom.”

Stephanie RiceMeet Stephanie Rice.

Stephanie teaches fourth-grade math and science at Crosswind Elementary in Collierville Schools.

“By building a rapport based on mutual respect and communication, I find my students rise to the expectations and challenges I place on them.”


 Middle Tennessee Region-level Winners

Meet Chelle Daniels.Chelle Daniels

Chelle teaches sixth-grade science at West Middle School in Tullahoma City Schools.

“All trailblazers find their own paths, often backtracking and altering course for the most practical route. I model for my students the necessity of finding their way through personal experience, encourage exploration as a road to learning, and provide the frontier—the learning environment for their growth as life-long learners.”

Rebecca RyanMeet Rebecca Ryan.

Rebecca currently serves as the principal at Findlay Elementary in White County and previously taught math at White County High School.

“All students, regardless of their origins, have the potential to be positive contributors to society. They also deserve to have a teacher who genuinely believes that and strives to help them grow and develop skills to explore and utilize their talents.”

Cicely Woodard

Meet Cicely Woodard.

Cicely teaches eighth-grade math at West End Middle School in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“The classroom presents a unique chance for young people and caring adults to build positive relationships with each other. It’s the place where teachers and students motivate each other to be their best selves. In the classroom we have a chance to help students to fall in love with learning and to understand the power of education.”

East Tennessee Region-level Winners

Meet KrisKristin Burrustin Burrus.

Kristin is a technology integration coach at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences in Hamilton County Schools.

“My goal for every unit of study is to provide multiple, diverse, engaging activities that build on each other and allow students to find meaning in the work. I believe the greatest measures of success are when my students feel like scientists and engineers.”

Karen Latus

Meet Karen Latus.

Karen teaches Spanish at Bearden High School in Knox County Schools.

“I consider this—creating an atmosphere where students can learn and grow with safety and respect—my highest responsibility as an educator.”

Meet Nancy Miles.

Nancy MilesNancy teaches third grade at South Side Elementary School in Johnson City Schools.

“We are successful when we exchange ideas and seek best practices together, viewing critical feedback as a chance to improve and develop new, innovative ways to teach children. Together we are bolder and more confident. Supporting, affirming, and challenging one another helps us to push the envelope toward creative and innovative initiatives, policies, and practices.”