TSS Blog

Celebrating Middle Level Education Month

In March, Tennesseans for Student Success celebrated Middle Level Education Month and asked the public to nominate a middle school educator, administrator, or staff member who has made a significant impact on Tennessee students. It is our joy to celebrate and honor those individuals for all the hard work they put into their students and schools!

Kathy Whitworth, a middle school math teacher from Forrest School in Chapel Hill, TN, was nominated and here’s what her colleague had to say about her:

“Kathy is ready for retirement when this school year is finished after teaching for her entire adult life. Kathy has consistently had positive state test scores and makes a positive impact on her students. Her work ethic and her ability to instruct students in an organized manner create the best learning environment for each individual on a daily basis. Kathy deserves to be recognized for her role in our school and within the community for helping to mold our students into accountable adults.”

Laura Lavery is a middle school Spanish teacher at Poplar Grove Middle School in Franklin, TN. Here’s what her coworker had to say:

“Ms. Lavery cares so much and works hard for her students; she works to help other teachers in our building as well as the school district by leading professional development in technology. Ms. Lavery helps with translation and communication with many of our Latino families. She engages the community by encouraging them to be mentors to students and encourages them to visit her classes. Ms. Lavery works with the grant team in our district and communicates many resources to our faculty. She also sends weekly notes of encouragement to all staff members to boost morale and positivity.”

Jeannie Ayers is a 7th grade science teacher at Poplar Grove Middle School in Franklin, TN as well. Take a look at what her colleagues had to say about her:

“I am nominating my colleague and dear friend, Mrs. Jeannie Wilder-Ayers. When I reflect on Jeannie what comes to mind is commitment. She volunteers her time twice a week at Path Project, an after-school tutoring program. She constantly goes and above beyond to serve the needs of all her students by staying many days until 5 and 6 p.m. She is relentless and excels in teaching 7th grade science. Her students greatly benefit from her high expectations and rigorous teaching. I hope she can be recognized for all her efforts!”

Kelly Bell is the principal at Smith County High School in Carthage, Tennessee. Here’s what was said about Mrs. Bell:

“Mrs. Bell has been the principal at Smith County Middle School only for two years but has certainly made an enormous impact on the community and students here in that short time. She has added multiple clubs and teams (photography, SADD, Bowling Team, LEGO team, Tennis team, student council- just to name a few) to give as many students as possible an outlet. She quickly learned the names of all her students (over 300 in the building) and goes above and beyond to ensure that they are loved, appreciated, and nurtured.

On top of all those, she has even gone overboard with her efforts to beautify our school. She personally landscaped the campus here, spending her evenings walking around the building watering the plants that she spent her summer planting. She has also worked hard at getting our school gymnasium and halls painted. Mrs. Bell has also tried to partner with our county’s drug prevention coalition. She has attended numerous meetings on her own, and invited the drug coalition into our school to educate our students and families of the dangers of various types of drug abuse.

In closing, I have never worked for a principal that loved her community, staff, and students like Mrs. Bell does. She is a rare gem who has changed the lives of many for the better. I have only shared a few of many examples that prove her dedication to our students, and their successful futures.”

Dr. Nola Isobe is an ESL teacher at Carter and Holston Middle School within the Knox County School System. Read what was said about her:

“Dr. Isobe works hard to ensure that every child’s needs are met. Every student learns on a different level and she meets them where they are and tailors their lessons to meet their individual needs. The environment in the classroom is calm and inviting. She employs outside of the box teaching to reach students. One such way is by using therapy dogs in her classroom. In addition, she trains other teachers on how to use therapy dogs and teach through trauma. Dr. Isobe is a lifelong learner that has high expectations for her students as well as herself.”

Congratulations to everyone who was nominated!

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