KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Education has announced the nine statewide finalists for the 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the year.

From the more than 237 applications sent from school districts, 27 regional semifinalists were identified by CORE region selection committees, and the nine finalists were then selected by a state-level selection committee. There are three finalists in each Grand Division: East, Middle, and West.

“Through perseverance, determination, and a commitment to providing all our students with a high-quality education, our Tennessee educators have gone above and beyond the call of the duty this past school year,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am thrilled to honor these nine teachers for their incredible work leading up to this moment and especially throughout the past several months. Our state is home to dedicated teachers who embody the Volunteer spirit and give their all for our students each and every day.”

The finalists for 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year are:

East Tennessee
  • Sheron Smith: Arnold Memorial Elementary School (Cleveland City Schools)
  • Elizabeth Evans: Grand Oaks Elementary School (Anderson County Schools)
  • Morgan Rankin: South Side School (Johnson City Schools)
Middle Tennessee
  • John Frizzell: Riverdale Elementary School (Germantown Municipal School District)
  • Brianne Matheney: Chester County High School (Chester County Schools)
  • Danielle VanCleave: Sharon School (Weakley County Schools)
West Tennessee
  • Laura Lavery Boyd: Poplar Grove Middle School (Franklin Special School District)
  • Robyn Olson: Richland School (Giles County Schools)
  • Erin Blalock: Warren County High School (Warren County Schools)

“Earning the title Tennessee Teacher of the Year meant I could use my voice for teachers and students across our state, and that meant a great deal to me,” said Kami Lunsford, 2021 Tennessee Teacher of the Year and Music Teacher, Karns Middle School. “In every community, especially Tennessee, teachers are powerful agents of support, resources, and change. This school year, the teaching profession met challenges unlike any in history, and as usual, teachers modeled for everyone how to lead, serve, and shine!”

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year will be announced during a celebration this fall. The winner will represent Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition and serve as an ambassador for education during the 2021-22 school year.

To learn more about the Tennessee Teacher of the Year award, click here.