The Tennessee Teacher of the Year program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers, to stimulate interest in teaching as a career, and to encourage public involvement in education.
This program is sponsored annually by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Niswonger Foundation. The department's teacher of the year coordinator, Dr. Johnny Crow, can be reached at (615) 532-4724.
The Tennessee Teacher of the Year represents Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition, which is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers, Inc. Terry Weeks, 1988 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, was named 1988 National Teacher of the Year. 1994 Teacher of the Year Frank Bluestein was named by Disney/McDonald's as the 1996 Performing Arts National Teacher of the Year. The Tennessee Teacher of the Year 2013-14 is Wanda Lacy of Knox County Schools.
Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: Building, System, CORE Office Level, Grand Division and State from three categories (levels of teaching); Grades Pre K-4, 5-8, 9-12. PLEASE NOTE: These levels refer to the grade(s) taught by the teacher and not to the grade structure or designation of the school.
Teachers selected at each cycle receive local recognition and awards underwritten by local sources. State recognition/awards include a banquet honoring the nine Tennessee Teacher of the Year finalists and certificates of appreciation from the governor. In addition, the state finalists and the Tennessee Teacher of the Year receive cash awards from the Niswonger Foundation.