This week, we recognize Thanksgiving as a time to reflect and consider everything for which we are grateful for. I am thankful for my incredible wife and two children and for our community and its vitality. It’s an incredible place to live and raise a family. I am also grateful for the opportunity to do work that is meaningful and serves others, like the educators and teachers who work so hard to make Tennessee a thriving place to get an excellent education.

While talking with the TSS team this week, I wanted to include a few words from them to share what they are thankful for. Here are a few thoughts from the team:

“I’m thankful for awesome family and friends, three German Shepards back home, beautiful TN State Parks for hiking, medical dramas (I love Grey’s!), spellcheck, Audible, and Juice Bar.” – Jessica Whitmill, Policy and Outreach Manager

“I am thankful for my family, my country and our freedom, my opportunities to make a difference, and above all my Lord and Savior.” – Susan Martin, Government Relations Director

“I’m thankful for walking in deep community with friends and family, purpose in life, and overall health in my friends, family, and myself.” – Lani Short, Communications Director

From the Tennesseans for Student Success family to yours, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Op-Ed: Improving K-12 Education Must Remain Tennessee’s Top Priority

Rep. Mark White, Chair of the Tennessee House Committee on Education and Senator Dolores Gresham, Chair of the Tennessee Senate Committee on Education recently penned an opinion editorial on the importance of improving Tennessee’s schools through higher academic standards, measuring student’s progress, providing more opportunity and choice to students, ensuring students and schools are kept accountable, as well as providing alternative pathways to success once they graduate from high school. 

Changes like these begin with transformation at every level. This article emphasizes the dramatic shift Tennessee has made over the past ten years to create positive change for our students and the hope we have as we look ahead to the future. 

Read the full article here


During this Season of Giving, Let’s Do Our Part

Are you looking for ways to get involved in changing student’s lives? During this season and into 2020, there are several ways you can take advantage of the opportunities our community has to help students and teachers persevere into this next year prepared and ready to succeed. Check out several opportunities where you can get involved by giving away your time, talent, and treasure.

Book’em – Become a reading role model volunteer by signing up here: https://bookem-kids.org/volunteer/

PENCIL – Become a reading partner and help children grow in their reading skills by signing up here: https://www.pencilforschools.org/reading

YMCA’s Youth Development program – One-on-one tutoring with students who have fallen below their grade level in reading. Sign up here: https://ymcamidtn.org/programs/children-and-teens/youth-development/ymca-literacy-program

Become a TNAchieves Mentor – Spend one hour a month with a high school senior and be a resource during their journey to college. Become a mentor here: https://tnachieves.org/mentors/apply/

The Tennessean’s Adopt-a-Teacher program – Help teachers finish out the school year strong by purchasing school supplies for their classrooms and students. Get involved here: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/dismissed/2019/11/15/adopt-teacher-tennessean-2019/4084863002/

Commissioner Schwinn Announces ‘Best For All’ Strategic Plan

Recently, the Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced the unveiling of her strategic plan to create a framework for the direction the Department is headed to improve student outcomes. After holding listening tours around the state over the past couple of months and the Commissioner visiting over 75 school districts in Tennessee, the Department has taken a bold approach to gather feedback from community members, educators, and parents to move the needle forward in the education space in Tennessee. 

The ‘Best For All’ strategic plan is outlined to include the following:

1. Quality academic programs for all students. 

2. Whole child support which features academic and non-academic aspects of a child’s life.

3. Top leader and teaching training and recruitment. Read more about this strategic plan and what the Department has laid the foundation for here


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