Category: Inside TNSuccess

Inside TNSuccess: October 14

Tennesseans for Student Success welcomes you to Inside TNSuccess.  Read below for important news happening around the state in the education space and ways you can get involved and stay informed. 

#KnowYourWhy with LEAD Southeast Principal, Mrs. Wilkins

October is National Principals Month and Tennesseans for Student Success sat down with Amy Kate Wilkins, Principal at LEAD Southeast High School, a public charter school within the LEAD public schools’ network with six schools serving 2,700 students in the Nashville area.

As an organization, we believe it’s important to celebrate educators and encourage leaders in the community to ‘Know Their Why.’ Do you know someone that would want to share their “why”? Let us know and we’d love to amplify their story!

Click here to learn more about Mrs. Wilkins, what she loves the most about what she does, and why she does it.

Calling All School Front Office Staff

At Tennesseans for Student Success, we love to celebrate the people that help make your school run smoothly. In November, we want to honor the exceptional front office staff in your school with a gift for your school staff and allowing them to share their stories through our #KnowYourWhy campaign. 

Please take a moment to nominate your front office staff here and let us know why they deserve this nomination. We can’t wait to celebrate your people! 

House District 77 Polling Numbers 

As a part of our statewide voter research polling, TSS is highlighting key voter perceptions on education reform policies. The following data is representative of House District 77 and tracks with statewide results.

Click here to view the data. 

SCORE Releases Survey Reinforcing the Importance of Post-Secondary Education

SCORE, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, recently released a survey reinforcing what we know to be critical for Tennessee students: earning a post-secondary education or credential is vital for success beyond high school.

Additionally, their data found that nearly eight out of ten of those surveyed supported increased school accountability which backs the findings we gathered this summer. Our data found that 82 percent of Tennesseans believe it’s important to hold schools and teachers accountable. 

To read more about this poll and its results, click here


Inside TNSuccess: September 30

ICYMI from the Tennessean: Scorecard lets voters see which legislators prioritize education

TSS recently released its third annual 2019 TNSuccessCard, a tool to keep Tennessee voters informed and engaged at the ballot box.

Check out this op-ed featured in The Tennessean from TSS President and CEO Adam Lister, on the importance of ensuring elected officials are prioritizing education and voting for policies that support student success. 

Read the full op-ed from the Tennessean here

Gov. Lee Announces New Public Charter School Commission

Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO, Adam Lister, released the following statement after Governor Lee’s appointments to the state’s new public charter school commission:

“Every student in the state of Tennessee, regardless of their zip code, deserves the highest level of quality and equal access to an outstanding public education. Tennessee continues to lead the way in innovative solutions to improve public education through the establishment of the new statewide public charter school commission. By establishing a non-political commission filled with accomplished experts in leading and growing charter schools as well as managing rigorous authorization programs and nonprofit governance; Tennessee took a dramatic step forward in improving its charter school policy. It is important the Volunteer State continues to establish new paths for students to have a seat in a high-quality public school, and this commission will implement even greater opportunities for families and students that need them the most.”

Read the statement online here.

Congrats to the 2019-2020 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, Brian McLaughlin

Mr. McLaughlin was awarded this honor last week at the Tennessee Department of Education Annual Teacher of the Year Gala. He hails from Hamblen County and is an algebra teacher at Morristown-Hamblen High School West. He has been teaching for 11 years and according to TDOE “McLaughlin has been recognized as a Level 5 teacher every year of his career. Level 5 is a designation given to teachers when their students make significantly more progress than the growth standard.” Read more from the TDOE press release here

How is the State Preparing High School Students for Post-Secondary?

Last week, SCORE, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, released a report addressing how Tennessee high schools are preparing students for post-secondary education after high school.

SCORE reported that four out of ten students in Tennessee are entering into college classrooms unprepared for college-level work. 

Through a listening tour around the state and beyond, collaborating with key leaders and educators, and recognizing that high school education isn’t one-size-fits-all; SCORE was able to gather and analyze data so students are prepared for post-secondary education and all that it entails

In Case You Missed It…

Inside TNSuccess: September 17

Tennesseans for Student Success welcomes you to Inside TNSuccess. 

Read below for important news happening around the state in the education space and ways you can get involved and stay informed. 

TSS’ Third Annual TNSuccessCard

This week, Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) announced the release of the 2019 TNSuccessCard, a scorecard to keep Tennessee voters informed and engaged at the ballot box. To view the TNSuccessCard, please visit and check out your local legislator’s grade. 

Read more from our press release here

Interested in helping amplify our TNSuccessCard? Visit and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TNSuccessCard.  Watch Adam Lister, President and CEO of Tennesseans for Student Success, below as he announces the release of our 2019 TNSuccessCard. 

Tennessee Hits Highest Graduation Rate Ever

This week, the Tennessee Department of Education announced an 89.7 percent graduation rate for the 2018-19 school calendar year. This is great news as it’s the highest graduation rate on record for Tennessee, and is more than half a percentage point higher than previous years. Read more about what Commissioner Penny Schwinn had to say about this news here. Congratulations to all those working hard in classrooms across Tennessee. As they celebrate this announcement, we hope everyone will join together in committing to push even harder for student success.

Tristar Reads: Recapping What We’ve Learned

We’re thankful you joined us this summer as we work each year to help prevent the summer slide in Tennessee students. 

Additionally, if you participated in Tristar Reads this summer, we’d love your feedback on how we can improve this program in the future. Would you take a quick moment to fill out our survey here

Be on the lookout for future correspondence from us announcing the winner of our scholarship program. And in the meantime, enjoy Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses, read by the TSS staff.

Do you want to be an advocate for Tennessee students?

Learn more about how to advocate for Tennessee students and get involved in our TSS events by staying connected. Check out our online advocacy portal and sign up below to receive updates and stay involved with us. 

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Inside TNSuccess: September 4

Tennesseans for Student Success welcomes you to Inside TNSuccess.  Read below for important news happening around the state in the education space and ways you can get involved and stay informed. 

TSS Statement on Statewide Education Polling

Tennesseans for Student Success recently released polling results displaying Tennesseans overwhelming support for vocational and alternative post-secondary opportunities for Tennessee students. This data was collected from July 9 – August 5, 2019 with 2000 respondents.

Please see the following statement from Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO, Adam Lister:

“As Tennessee continues to lead the way for students to obtain long-term success through various post-secondary opportunities, it’s encouraging to see the broad support for policies shown to improve student learning. This data continues to build on the success we’ve seen over the past decade in Tennessee, and I’m hopeful that data like this will help shape how we move forward as a state. Ensuring students are career-ready will pave the way for more opportunities for greater economic stability in adulthood.”

To view the polling data, click here

Mark Your Calendar for Our Tennessee SuccessCard Release

On September 16th, Tennesseans for Student Success will release our third annual Tennessee SuccessCard, which is our version of a report card for each member of the Tennessee General Assembly.  

Tennesseans for Student Success publishes this report to ensure parents, teachers and advocates for high-quality public education have, at their fingertips, a detailed analysis of each legislative session, its impact on public education and an easy-to-understand report on how each member of the Tennessee General Assembly voted on the policies that drive student achievement in the state. Learn more at

#KnowYourWhy Featuring Dr. Ferguson

Why did you choose your profession?

From the minute I started school, teachers were my heroes. I do not remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a teacher. I was the student who was always helping other students with their homework. Everyone else thought I should be a teacher too. I knew from the start that this was my passion; this is what I wanted to do with my life. In teaching, you can’t rest on your laurels. The playing field is always shifting. To be effective at your craft, you must “adapt and overcome.” 

Where do you draw inspiration from the most?

I love the kids—they inspire me to keep learning; I love the legacy of excellence that Maryville is known for; I love the community—if you host an event, they show up to support and help you. I also love the fact that over 40 of my former students now serve in the Maryville City School System. They are my legacy—and sharing in their growth and accomplishments is the greatest tribute that I could ever receive.

What advice do you have for the generation after you?

Welcome to the greatest profession in the world! You have chosen a job—no, a way of life–where you have the opportunity to change the world—one student at a time! As Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” As you advance in your career, I would like to offer this advice: be a lifelong learner; be open to change; stay active both physically and mentally; find a community of learners to challenge and support you; keep a sense of humor; and, remember your “why.”

Tennessee Legislative Corner 

On Friday, August 23, House members of the 111th General Assembly elected their second speaker of the year during a special session, called in by Governor Lee in June. Cameron Sexton of Crossville officially took over as leader over the House chamber, following the resignation of former Speaker Glen Casada. 

Tristar Reads: Stay True to Who You Are

We’re in the final stretch of Tristar Reads with only ONE WEEK left. 

Today, we are highlighting the most extraordinary superheroes… YOU! Every human being that has ever lived, or will live, is unique. You are truly one-of-a-kind. Since you are so unique, why not celebrate that fact? 

This summer, we are committed to preventing the summer slide and it starts by standing out. Join us as we log our reading hours and sign up for Tristar Reads today! Learn more at You’ll be entered for the chance to win a $1,000 scholarship! Sign up for our weekly Tristar Reads email today!

Use Your Voice

Do you want to learn more about how to advocate for Tennessee students and get involved in our TSS events? Check out our online advocacy portal here.

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