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Inside TNSuccess: August 5

Tennesseans for Student Success is excited to announce that we are rebranding our newsletter to be called Inside TNSuccess. 

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


A Word from Our President, Adam Lister

It is my honor and privilege as President and CEO of Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS), to lead this organization by supporting and championing Tennessee’s students and their futures. As a father of two and husband to an incredible public-school teacher, I feel grateful that I am able to work toward ensuring today’s students are more prepared and have more opportunities for success than those who graduated before them. 

To that end, over the past couple of weeks, TSS has held education advocacy and leadership summits in Knoxville and Nashville for educators, parents and community leaders interested in learning how to best advocate for students in their sphere of influence. Included in our events were lawmakers, former lawmakers, leadership experts and community pioneers who invested their time, wisdom and outlook on the education landscape to better equip others.

Above all else, TSS believes that open, honest and robust conversations about improving public education plays a vital role in driving enhanced student achievement. We are unapologetic about our advocacy for higher academic standards, an assessment aligned with those standards, accountability for everyone involved in the classroom and providing more choice within public education.

As the new school year begins across the state today, we are thrilled that our amazing educators are filling Tennessee’s schools in order to make a difference in the lives of upcoming generations. Tennessee’s future looks very bright, and I look forward to what’s ahead for our students. 


Tennessee Legislative Corner

On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, the Tennessee House Republican Caucus met and nominated current Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville to be the Republican nominee for House Speaker.

Additionally, last Friday, Rep. Casada’s resignation as Tennessee House Speaker became effective. Knoxville Rep. Bill Dunn will take his place in the interim before the Tennessee General Assembly convenes in a special session on August 23. At that time, the House will elect a new speaker, presumably Rep. Sexton.


Tristar Reads: Honoring America’s Superhero Servicemembers

This week with Tristar Reads, we are highlighting the men and women who serve our great nation and allow us to have the freedoms that we enjoy every day. Let’s use our superhero powers to extend gratitude to those who protect this amazing country. 

We’re thankful to live in such an amazing and free country, which is why we’d like to honor Corporal Knight during our reading this week. He serves our nation in the United States Army and the Tennessee Army National Guard. Be sure to watch his special reading of America the Beautiful Together We Stand here. 

Remember: students in grades K-12 are eligible and will be entered for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship! Log your hours with Tristar Reads now. Don’t miss out on important reminders and the weekly Superhero Challenge. 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 make a difference? Check out our online advocacy portal to do just that!

RSVP for our Nashville Teacher Paint Night on August 13th! 
Meet teachers from across Middle TN, create something unique for your classroom or home and learn more about TSS. Regular price is $35, teacher price is $15 (includes light dinner). Sign up here


ICYMI…

Inside TNSuccess: November 25

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


In Case You Missed It…

Inside TNSuccess: November 12

Thank You, Veterans

I would like to take a few moments to honor all those who have served in our Armed Forces as we recognize Veteran’s Day this week. It’s important we acknowledge the sacrifice our nation’s heroes made to keep this great country safe and free. Here at TSS, we are grateful for the service our veterans have given to this country and we pray you are reminded of that this week.

To that end, we’d like to use Veteran’s Day as an opportunity to honor an educator who has served in the military. Teachers make such a positive impact on young people’s lives and those who serve our country deserve to be recognized and celebrated. If you know a veteran who serves your community through education, nominate them today for a chance to receive a $50 gift card.

We’re excited to partner with you in this and look forward to celebrating our veterans with you. Click here to nominate an educator who is a veteran today.

-Adam Lister, President and CEO


Congratulations to our 2019 Tristar Reads Winners

Tennesseans for Student Success, together with Tristar Reads, announces the winners of their 2019 summer reading challenge. Awarding college scholarships, Tristar Reads encourages Tennessee’s students to be lifelong readers and learners.

“894 students logged over 500,000 minutes reading books this summer,” said Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister. “When we launched this program, our goal was to keep Tennessee’s students reading and mitigate the summer slide. From our recent 2019 TNReady results, we know there is a continued need to emphasize literacy at every grade level and in every classroom – especially elementary and middle school students. Programs like Tristar Reads are one of the tools to incentivize reading throughout the year, and we are proud to have a hand in student growth.” 

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

Elementary School Division – Tallen Haag, 3rd Grade, Robertson County, read 28,286 minutes
Middle School Division – Sarah Collier, 7th Grade, Cheatham County, read 22,955 minutes
High School Division – Lauren Linden, 12th Grade, Hancock County, read 10,012 minutes


The Nation’s 2019 Report Card Results

Recently, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released the results of our nation’s 2019 Report Card, which showed Tennessee holding steady while the majority of the country declined. Notably, serious gains were made in fourth-grade math as a result of a commitment to implement student-focused policies.

Read more about what our Nation’s Report Card is and what it means for Tennessee’s students here

Check out what our President and CEO Adam Lister had to say about these results: 

“… there is still much work to be done to ensure all students are receiving the best possible public education. This data reinforces our belief that policy makers must commit to an aggressive and bold agenda, which dramatically and more quickly improves student outcomes for all Tennessee kids. It’s important that we commend the progress Tennessee has made, thank our teachers for their hard work, and commit to the strategies that will dramatically drive student achievement forward.”

Read our full statement here


Governor Bill Lee’s Announces GIVE Grant Recipients

Last week, Governor Bill Lee announced the distribution of $25 million of grants through the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) program. These funds will help expand opportunities in career and technical education and in rural counties across the state. Through collaborating with local stakeholders, economic development partners, and higher education organizations, all 28 economically distressed counties and 18 of the 24 at-risk counties were impacted and received funding.

To read more about the GIVE grant projects and recipients, click here


ICYMI…

Tennesseans for Student Success Statement on the NAEP Results

NASHVILLE – Today, Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister released the following statement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results:

“Over the last ten years, Tennessee students have made dramatic improvements as a result of a commitment to implementing student-focused policies. Released today, our Nation’s Report Card found that many states regressed, while Tennessee’s students slightly progressed in some areas.

“That said, there is still much work to be done to ensure all students are receiving the best possible public education. This data reinforces our belief that policy makers must commit to an aggressive and bold agenda, which dramatically and more quickly improves student outcomes for all Tennessee kids. It’s important that we commend the progress Tennessee has made, thank our teachers for their hard work, and commit to the strategies that will dramatically drive student achievement forward.”

Tennesseans for Student Success Announces Tristar Reads Scholarship Winners

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success, together with Tristar Reads, announces the winners of their 2019 summer reading challenge. Awarding college scholarships, Tristar Reads encourages Tennessee’s students to be lifelong readers and learners.

“894 students logged over 500,000 minutes reading books this summer,” said Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister. “When we launched this program, our goal was to keep Tennessee’s students reading and mitigate the summer slide. From our recent 2019 TNReady results, we know there is a continued need to emphasize literacy at every grade level and in every classroom – especially elementary and middle school students. Programs like Tristar Reads are one of the tools to incentivize reading throughout the year, and we are proud to have a hand in student growth.”

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

Elementary School Division – Tallen Haag, 3rd Grade, Robertson County, read 28,286 minutes
Middle School Division – Sarah Collier, 7th Grade, Cheatham County, read 22,955 minutes
High School Division – Lauren Linden, 12th Grade, Hancock County, read 10,012 minutes

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, anything 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 birthed out of the goal to keep Tennessee’s students reading during the summer months. 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 fourth year, almost 900 students logged their reading time, reading over 500,000 minutes this summer, and participating in the summer reading challenge. For more information on how to participate next year, please visit TristarReads.com.