Meet the 2019 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 2018-19 Tennessee Teacher of the Year on Sept. 20. Read more about each of these outstanding educators below.

West Tennessee Region-level Winners

Meet Valerie Godina.

Valerie teaches middle school science at Henry Elementary in Henry County Schools.

“For many students, their teacher is the only bright light that they have in their day. Our job, our professional responsibility is not to simply give our students the necessary supplies and expect them to catch on to everything that we say, it is to exude love and confidence in them, especially on the days that they are the least productive.”

Meet Carlin McGlown.

Carlin teaches seventh grade English language arts at Munford Middle School in Tipton County Schools.

“As teachers, every minute that we stand before a student matters. These minutes add up to many hours over the course of the school year, resulting in much time in which we had the opportunity to be impactful. These minutes are sacred, and should be treated as such.”

Meet Michael Robinson.

Michael teaches high schools social studies at Houston High School in the Germantown Municipal School District.

“Although it may sound like a message in a Hallmark card, teaching is more than a job. It is an opportunity teachers have every day when they walk into their classroom to make a difference, to matter, to influence, to inspire, to shape the lives of our future generation.”


 Middle Tennessee Region-level Winners

Meet Michael Franklin.

Michael teaches high school Spanish at Franklin County High School in Franklin County Schools.

“Our students are our most precious resource. They deserve a high-quality education from their teachers and also to have community and family support interwoven into their daily educational experiences. Together, we are the difference we want to see in education.”

Meet Melissa Miller.

Melissa teaches first grade at Franklin Elementary in the Franklin Special School District.

“Just as our students are fueled by our belief in them, teachers are fueled by the same encouragement. The light of passion for literacy success burns bright within me and the flame I carry is contagious. I want to run across the state sharing the spark of belief and encouragement to help teachers and students run the literacy race with endurance.”

Meet Susan Reeder.

Susan teaches kindergarten at Union Heights Elementary in the Smith County School District.

“I want to be a pinnacle of belief that there are changes that need to be made but we can do the work and make this state one of the highest achieving education states in the U.S. I believe wholeheartedly we have the ability to do that.”

East Tennessee Region-level Winners

Meet Lori Farley.

Lori is a media and enrichment coach at North City Elementary in Athens City Schools.

“We are doing great things, and it is time to consistently share the remarkable ways our teachers are teaching and students are learning. Communities need to realize the hard work that is going into shaping and molding our students to be the next generation of great leaders for our state and country. Our students are much smarter than I ever was at their age, and I want others to see their greatness!.”

Meet Bryan Schultz.

Bryan teaches high school science and STEM courses at L&N STEM Academy in Knox County Schools.

“While technology is the key to bridging equity, it is not a substitute for the classroom teacher. The classroom teacher is able to develop a relationship with each student in order to personalize the student’s learning and facilitate the classroom environment with lessons and materials that aid in the equalization of student learning.”

Meet Amy Whaley.

Amy teaches CTE Computer Science and eBusiness Communications at Morristown-Hamblen High School West in Hamblen County Schools.

“We have been called as educators for our profession. Therefore, we should be like thermostats and control our classroom surroundings instead of like thermometers and allow our surroundings to control us.”