To My Tennessee Teachers

The department works to honor Tennessee teachers every day, but we are especially excited to celebrate educators during National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9.

Jaime Grimsley currently serves as a special assistant in the division of teachers and leaders, but she is also a proud graduate of Tennessee public schools. Here she reflects on the Tennessee teachers that shaped her journey.

By Jaime Grimsley

Jaime Grimsley serves as a special assistant in the division of teachers and leaders.

My awareness and appreciation for my former teachers grew once I became a teacher with a classroom of my own.  Many of the teachers I was privileged to experience challenged me, believed in me, and encouraged me to pursue anything I wanted—no matter what crazy thing I wanted to do–whether it was becoming the first female president or a five-star general in the Army!  It was with their support that I am the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree and, in May, will be the first in my family to earn a Master’s degree.

Ms. McDuffee made complicated Chemistry content make sense, setting the foundation I would need in my difficult college Chemistry classes.  Ms. Ridge embraced my learning style in Biology, and years later when I had my own Biology students, I vowed to make it as interactive as she did.  Mr. Davis brought U.S. history to life: we did more than memorize history-we experienced it.  Ms. Blake set high expectations for my learning and encouraged me to set courageously high goals for myself. Ms. Purcell exposed me to the beauty of words in creative writing.  Ms. Isbell introduced me to the Monster Mash and the game of chess, and created a fun learning environment that made coming to her class so cool–especially to a third grader. Ms. Freitag fostered my love of books and reading and told me on more than one occasion that I could do anything I set my mind to. Mr. Kemmer challenged me to question and research the status quo and to think critically about my viewpoints.  Ms. Reed taught me that mistakes are part of learning. Ms. Breland and Ms. Hawn imparted through actions that teaching your students goes much further when you take the time to let your kids know you care.

I experienced an incredible roster of educators during my K-12 career that took the time to encourage me and support me in my endeavors.

Most of all, my teachers took the time to let me know I was valued not just as a student, but as a person; this was the greatest lesson. I appreciate you all more than words can say.

Thank you.