KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Lenoir City teacher has been selected as a finalist for the Tennessee Department of Education’s 2022-23 Teacher of the Year award.

Lenoir City Elementary teacher, Margaret Bright, was selected as the finalist for the East Tennessee Region according to a release from TDOE. Bright is a second grade teacher at the school, and has 22 years of teaching experience.

Bright’s biography, shared by Lenoir City Schools, explains her love for teaching students and incorporating research-based practices to create learners who will be successful for a lifetime.

“As a seventh grade Language Arts teacher at Philadelphia Elementary School, she indulged in her love of literature with her students, but found her passion for teaching when she moved to first grade.” Her biography says. “She combined her love of literature with her research on explicit phonics to teach students. She loved how combining both aspects of reading challenged students helping them grow into strong readers and writers.”

Bright has also worked as an ELA Consultant for Tennessee’s East CORE Office, where she consulted and collaborated with school leaders by creating content to share current ELA research and lead training in ELA. She then worked as a Literacy Coach for Lenoir City Elementary school, where she now teaches second grade and continues to coach and mentor teachers as a teacher leader.

Candidates for the award are required to “have been teaching full-time for at least three years, have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning, and be effective school and community leaders,” the release states.

Multiple officials were quoted in the release congratulating Bright’s nomination.

“Congratulations to Margaret Bright and all the other finalists for the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award,” said State Representative Kent Calfee“I also want to thank all our wonderful public education teachers across the Great State of Tennessee. It has been an honor to support you for the last ten years.” 

“I would like to congratulate Margaret Bright and Lenoir City Elementary School on this great honor,” said Lt. Governor Randy McNally. “Our Tennessee teachers are our state’s most valuable asset because it is they who will ultimately shape our future. I am very proud to represent Margaret and Lenoir City Schools and am grateful they are being recognized for their hard work on behalf of our state.”  

Bright has been named alongside Kristin Burrus from STEM School Chattanooga and Meg Foster from Elizabethton High School in the East section of the state.

There are 9 finalists for the award from the eight Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) areas in the state and the Shelby County-municipals area. The winners for each grand division of the state will be selected from the finalists and announced during an honorary banquet this fall.

“Educators are the backbone of Tennessee schools and communities, and have continued to demonstrate their dedication, professionalism, and unmatched passion to educating our students,” said Dr. Penny Schwinn, Commissioner of TDOE. “I am proud to recognize these nine teachers who have gone above and beyond to ensure Tennessee students are set up for success.” 

All finalists will have the opportunity to serve on Comissioner Schwinn’s Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council for the 2022-23 school year.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year awardee will represent Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition and serve as an ambassador for education in the state throughout the 2022-23 school year. To qualify, candidates must have been teaching full-time for at least three years, have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning, and be effective school and community leaders.