Category: Press Releases

Tennesseans for Student Success Adds Staff to Promote Even Greater Student Outcomes

For Immediate Release                                                                         

June 27, 2019            

Media Contact                                                                

Lani Short,

NASHVILLE, TN — Today, Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) announced the addition of two new staff members and an advancement of the organization’s statewide outreach efforts to accelerate and expand the organization’s work in promoting greater student success across Tennessee.

Susan Martin, a former three-term member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, is the organization’s new Director of Government Relations. First elected to public office in 2013, Martin served as Chair of the NC House Finance Committee, as well as the Commerce and Job Development Committee. She also co-chaired the Joint Legislative Economic Development, the House Study Committee on Education Innovation, and the Mental Health Subcommittee. Prior to running for public office, Martin worked as a sales consultant for IBM. 

Lani Short has joined the organization as its new Communications Director. Short, a native Tennessean, joins Tennesseans for Student Success after nearly four years in Washington D.C. where she served as press assistant to the Republican National Committee before joining Congressman Phil Roe (TN-01) as his press secretary. Most recently, Lani served as the deputy communications director for the U.S. House Committee on Small Business.

“As Tennesseans for Student Success continues to grow, we are accelerating our advocacy for the student-centered policies and initiatives that are having a positive impact on families and communities across Tennessee,” said Adam Lister, President and CEO of Tennesseans for Student Success. “In addition to these staff announcements, we are strategically focused on maximizing our grassroots and outreach efforts within the state through a more focused engagement on our field team to have maximum impact on student outcomes and success. We are proud of the ways TSS has supported students and teachers in Tennessee, and excited about the opportunities and important work ahead.”


Tennesseans for Student Success is a nonprofit issue advocacy organization committed to improving student achievement in Tennessee. To learn more, visit


Susan Martin
Lani Short
Tennesseans for Student Success Announces New Policy Principle

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success released their annual legislative priorities today and announced an additional policy principle focused on maintaining student success, economic freedom after graduation. 

“Tennesseans for Student Success strives to engage the state’s parents, teachers, and community leaders in a common goal of creating and supporting a public education system that prepares students for success after graduation from high school,” said President and CEO Adam Lister. “We frame our policy priorities around five key goals: high expectations for all students, measuring what matters, innovation in education, strong accountability in the classrooms, and securing economic freedom for all Tennesseans.” 

Lister continued: As Tennesseans for Student Success continues unrelenting advocacy in support of the policies most directly responsible for driving improvements in student achievement, we are also announcing an expansion of our mission. We will focus on protecting the opportunity of economic freedom for all Tennesseans through investment in expanded dual enrollment, work-based learning opportunities, technical training, and other strategies to increase the number students who can access, afford, and complete a post-secondary credential or degree. 

The policy principles are: 

High Expectations for All Students — Tennessee’s students will soon be competing for spots in colleges, for jobs, for placements in technical fields, and for prestigious positions in our Nation’s Armed Forces with students from across the country. We know our students can compete and succeed, but they can be better prepared. Whatever the path, students must be ready – on day one –to achieve, learn, and grow. High academic standards in today’s classrooms help make sure our students will be ready for tomorrow’s opportunities for success.

Measuring What Matters — Helping students be successful means that along with helping them learn the necessary skills to move from one grade to the next, we should work to make sure they know how to be successful in life after graduation. The work that is happening in our classrooms is far too important – with lasting implications – to take a “wait and see” approach to student success. Good tests, ones that accurately and fairly measure what our students know, where they are growing and achieving, and where they need more support, are critical in student success. Good tests are also critical to quality classroom instruction. A test aligned with high academic standards also aligns professional development opportunities for our teachers helping them focus their personal improvement in ways that further supports students.

Innovation in Education — When public education is free to innovate the results can be astounding. Classrooms can adapt, teachers can transform, and students can succeed. The opportunity to be innovative should be welcome in all Tennessee public schools. Public education isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to student success. Many students, teachers, and classrooms flourish in traditional public school settings. For some, iZone schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, academy models, and alternative public-school settings are the answer for students to succeed. No matter how or where a student learns in Tennessee’s public schools, those schools must be able to adopt the best practices for innovation and student success.

Strong Accountability in the Classroom — From legislators to administrators, teachers and students, and parents and community volunteers, everyone is accountable for the success, growth, and achievement of Tennessee’s classrooms. How do we hold everyone accountable? We measure for success. Whether it’s student assessments, district report cards, teacher evaluations, or scorecards for legislators, we measure what we want to see improve. Then we report those measures, making sure the tools for growth are available and help every classroom succeed.

Securing Economic Freedom for All Tennesseans —We have advocated for higher, better academic standards which prepare students for success in a 21st century economy but to fully honor our promise to provide today’s students with an opportunity for success in the future, we must ensure all Tennessean are prepared for, can access, and complete a post-secondary credential or degree. Today, more than ever, Tennessee’s students have an opportunity to seamlessly transition from high school to college and career. As the global workforce continues to evolve, it is increasingly important to improve alignment among student instruction, teacher preparation, parent engagement, and the development of the necessary skills for future and current employees to help employers fill the available jobs and secure their own economic independence. We will accomplish these goals by pursuing policies that strengthen pathways to a post-secondary credential, increase retention and completion. 

Please click here for a comprehensive list of the 2019 Tennesseans for Student Success state legislative priorities. 

Tennesseans for Student Success Applauds Education Appointment

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success issued the following statement on Tennessee’s new Commissioner of Education:

“Congratulations to Penny Schwinn as she is named Tennessee’s next Commissioner of Education,” said Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister. “Over the last eight years, Tennessee experienced historic gains in public education, and the next Commissioner will have an opportunity to continue to advance the policies that drive success for all students in Tennessee’s classrooms.”

Lister continued: “I applaud Governor-Elect Lee for this important appointment and am encouraged by the deliberative and thoughtful approach to encouraging the best people, policies, and ideas to be at the table for every student in Tennessee. Schwinn has a track record of success in, Texas as the Texas Education Agency’s chief deputy commissioner of academics, turning around struggling schools in Delaware, and as an educator working to close the achievement gap for every student. Tennesseans for Student Success is encouraged that through her leadership and with Governor-Elect Lee, advancing opportunities for all of Tennessee’s students will be a top priority and we look forward to working with her.” 

For more information on Schwinn’s appointment, please visit Governor-Elect Lee’s transition website here

Tennesseans for Student Success Announces Tristar Reads Scholarship Winners

September 21, 2018

CONTACT: Ashley Elizabeth Graham

Tennesseans for Student Success Announces Scholarship Winners

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success, together with Tristar Reads, announces the winners of their 2018 summer reading challenge. Giving away college scholarships, Tristar Reads encourages Tennessee’s students to be lifelong readers and learners.

“More than 900 students logged over 251,000 minutes of time spent in a book this summer,” said Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister. “When we launched this program, our goal was to keep Tennessee’s kids reading and mitigate the summer slump. From our recent NAEP and statewide assessment, we know there is a continued need to emphasize literacy at every grade level and in every classroom. Programs like Tristar Reads are one of the tools to incentivize reading throughout the year.” 

Tristar Reads is proud to award $1,000 college scholarships to the following outstanding Tennessee readers:

Kindergarten-5th Grade – Kyra Warrington, 4th Grade, Wayne County
6th-8th Grade – Rowen Wilkinson, 8th Grade, Sumner County
9th-12 Grade – Lauren Linden, 11th Grade, Hancock County

Lister continued: “A commitment to reading is a commitment to success not just in the classroom, but in life. When students, teachers, parents, and communities embrace the benefits of reading, everything is possible. We are encouraged by the continued interest and growth not just in our three college scholarships, but in keeping literacy skills sharp all year long.”

Running from May 1st – September 7th, Tristar Reads was borne of the necessity to keep Tennessee’s kids reading when away from their classrooms. When students read 20 minutes a day during their summer vacations, they are more likely to return to school ready for success in their next grade. In its third year, over 925 students logged their reading time, reading over 251,100 minutes this summer, and participating in the summer reading challenge. For more information on how to participate next year, please visit