Congratulations to Oak Ridge Schools Teachers of the Year

Each year, the Tennessee Department of Education applauds teachers who care about children, who devote their professional lives to enriching the lives of Tennessee students, and who demonstrate exceptional gains in student achievement. The Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors outstanding teachers in Tennessee. Goals of the program are to:

  • Promote effective teaching practices by recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers.
  • Engage regional teachers of the year in education policy making through the Teacher Advisory Council.
  • Encourage participation by every school in the state so that all Tennessee teachers may be recognized and rewarded.
  • Build a network of local and state corporate sponsors.
  • Provide a network for teachers to share effective practices.
  • Encourage a sense of professionalism in teaching.
  • Encourage greater participation in building a strong community-school partnership.

Each district in the state may submit one nominee for the state-level award. As part of this process, we seek teacher candidates from each school in the district. Oak Ridge Schools would like to congratulate the school-level winners nominated by their principals and peers for the 2018-2019 application.


Oak Ridge Schools Preschool: Principal, Lisa Downard; Teacher of the Year, Linda Dalton

Linda Dalton is a preschool teacher serving three- and four-year-old children. Her philosophy is that all children can learn. In order for this to happen, students need to feel safe and have clear expectations, so she finds a healthy balance between being firm and loving with them. Linda likens her classroom to the movie Groundhog Day. The students know exactly what to expect and when, giving them a sense of security. She has 17 students her class who remain with her for two school years. During this time, Mrs. Dalton works with each child individually. For example, one student may be able to write his first and last names, while another can only write her first name. Another child may be able to copy or trace her name while yet another is still working on matching his name to identify it among other names. This example of individualization applies throughout the day with many tasks and skills to bring all students success.


Glenwood Elementary: Principal, Pearl Goins; Teacher of the Year, Lauren Blair

Lauren Blair is a first grade teacher who believes that collaboration is the key to success for educators and their students. Lauren attributes her success in the classroom to truly getting to know her students’ learning styles, strengths and areas to strengthen. She recognizes that using this information to create cooperative groups allows her students to explore their own strengths, while benefiting from the strengths of others. Teaching collaborative skills and allowing students the opportunity to work together to create and think critically in the classroom is very important to Mrs. Blair. She believes that this purposeful task gives her students a greater understanding that they are in charge of their own learning. Lauren acknowledges that students have a greater interest and enthusiasm for learning if they know that their opinions and thoughts matter. Mrs. Blair is a STEM coach who provides leadership in the AdvancED STEM certification process and leads school-wide STEM activities including family nights, camps, and a field trip to view the eclipse at Big Turtle Park.


Linden Elementary: Principal, Roger Ward; Teacher of the Year, Lisa Buckner

Lisa Buckner is a third grade teacher whose hope is to instill passion in students and an insatiable appetite for learning. She believes that effective teachers model lifelong learning in their professional and personal lives, always seeking to know more and seek solutions that ignite more questions, creating a cycle of learning. She has discovered the best way to foster learning in her classroom is to make it a place where she rewards risk taking and failure, just as historic heroes experienced failure and yet found success through grit and determination. Lisa attributes her positive student growth results to hands-on learning, inquiry, and active discovery that lead students toward meaningful connections between new content and what they already know. Mrs. Buckner is a STEM Coach who provides vision and leadership for peers to develop lessons, promotes the processes for AdvancED certification, and write grants to design STEM-rich opportunities for students such as viewing the eclipse with NOAA scientists at the Roane State campus in Harriman.


Willow Brook Elementary: Principal, Sherrie Fairchild-Keyes; Teacher of the Year, Donna Grove

Donna Grove is a Reading Specialist who works with students in need of reading intervention to help them move toward grade level success. Her primary goal is to foster growth and success in school, specifically by developing positive feelings about learning and about themselves. She has developed an understanding about the reading process, learning strategies, and sequences appropriate in reading instruction. Donna fosters student growth through a positive, supportive learning environment.  She ensures students know of her high expectations for learning, effort, and behavior. She works with students to develop a pleasant classroom community in which everyone gets on board to work hard, support each other, and strive for success. Success and growth come in a variety of forms and Ms. Grove celebrates each child’s progress.


Woodland Elementary: Principal, D.T. Hobby; Teacher of the Year, Michael Martin