Teachers in Oak Ridge and Clinton have been selected to serve on the first Governor’s Teacher Cabinet.
The Oak Ridge teacher, Cathy Ginel, is a seventh-grade science teacher at Robertsville Middle School. The Clinton teacher, Abbey Kidwell, is a fourth-grade teacher at South Clinton Elementary School.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced the appointment of the 18 teachers to the cabinet on Tuesday.
The cabinet will meet quarterly with Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to share real-time information from the classroom, give advice on policy considerations, and provide a direct line of communication to schools and communities, a press release said.
A year ago, the governor traveled the state to hear from groups of teachers, and in December, he announced plans to create the cabinet in an effort to improve teacher communication and collaboration, the press release said.
“We’ve had a number of conversations with teachers in a variety of settings, and this is another way to receive direct feedback from teachers who are in front of a class every day,” Haslam said. “As Tennessee continues to build on the success we’ve seen in our schools over the past four years, we want to hear from teachers about what is working and what needs improvement. These teachers have a lot on their plates, so I really appreciate their willingness to serve the state in this way.”
Directors of schools were asked to nominate one teacher from each of their districts, and 18 classroom teachers were selected from across the state based on the following criteria: The teachers should be focused on student achievement, encourage collaboration among colleagues, demonstrate leadership, be solutions-oriented, and relentlessly pursue excellence, the press release said.
It said the teacher cabinet includes a diverse mix of backgrounds and experience. Members represent each of the state’s three grand divisions as well as cities, suburbs, and rural areas and have varying years of experience teaching first through 12th grades.
Members of the first Governor’s Teacher Cabinet are:
- Elisabeth McArthur Bellah, Maryville City Schools
- Melissa Bennett, Blount County Schools
- Marsha Buck, Kingsport City Schools
- Nick Darnell, Hamblen County Schools
- Rebecca Few, Murfreesboro City Schools
- Cathy Ginel, Oak Ridge City Schools
- Anita Underwood Gray, Lebanon Special School District
- Annette C. Johnson, Franklin County Schools
- Abbey Kidwell, Clinton City School District
- Wanda N. Lacy, Knox County Schools
- Jessica Lindsay, Achievement School District
- Schwann Logan, Bartlett Municipal School District
- Lance Morgan, Union City Schools
- Jessica Murray, Dyer County Schools
- Kyle Prince, Rutherford County Schools
- Angie Tisdale, Franklin Special School District
- Karen Vogelsang, Shelby County Schools
- Catherine Whitehead, Chester County School System
Teachers will serve two-year terms on the cabinet. The first meeting is planned for July.