50 Blue Ribbon Teacher Award Recipients Announced

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Fifty Metro teachers have been selected to receive the prestigious recognition of being a Blue Ribbon Teacher through a local, community-driven award program aimed at identifying our city’s strongest teachers.

The Blue Ribbon Teacher program was initiated in partnership with the Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee with support from the Nashville Public Education Foundation. The award program was intended to complement more traditional teaching awards that are largely driven by educators and other professional colleagues. The 50 award recipients will be honored at a formal reception at the Vanderbilt Chancellor’s residence in May and receive a $1,000 cash prize.

“At the heart of our city’s ability to strengthen and improve the schools, is having great teachers in every classroom. With them, anything is possible. Without them, nothing is possible,” said Tom Sherrard, Chairman of the Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee and the Immediate Past Chairman of the Nashville Public Education Foundation. “The idea behind this award is to bring community recognition and thanks to some of our district’s most highly effective teachers. We hope the award shows all teachers how much we appreciate the work they do and the contributions they make to our city.”

View a list of the 2015 Blue Ribbon Teachers

The Blue Ribbon Teacher designation is earned through exceptional performance in one of three categories:

  • Impressive Data: Teachers who have achieved high student performance and growth.
  • Relationships with Students: Teachers who have changed students’ lives through intense dedication and even acts of heroism.
  • Leadership: Teachers who support their colleagues, adopt new initiatives and strive to be leaders in their building or the district as a whole.

“The latest class of Blue Ribbon Teachers comes from a wide variety of grade levels, representing zoned schools, magnet schools and charter schools,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “They prove that no matter where you go in Nashville or what kind of school you attend, there are great teachers everywhere. They are assets to their students, their schools and the district. We are lucky to have them in our classrooms.”

After a blind screening process, nominees are evaluated by Selection Committee made up of business and civic leaders and other community stakeholders. This year’s winners represent every geographic cluster and all three tiers have double-digit representation:

  • Elementary – 26
  • Middle – 14
  • High – 10

In addition, five of the winning teachers come from some of the city’s top performing charter schools: KIPP Academy Nashville, Purpose Prep and Nashville Classical.

“This year’s nominations are a testament to the District’s commitment to recruit, reward and retain excellent teachers as a cornerstone of public school success,” said Susan Thompson, chief human capital officer for Metro Schools. “People came out of the woodwork to recognize highlight the unbelievable work of teachers in every part of the city, in every tier and for a variety of reasons.”

The nominations are filled with heart-warming stories of teachers who go far beyond the requirements of their jobs to serve students, families and their colleagues.

The nomination for Jacques Carr, a Blue Ribbon Teacher at Margaret Allen Middle Prep, included this description of his dedication to his students: “It is nothing for him to stay at work until 11 p.m. working on an exciting project his students have requested or spend hours talking to parents about their concerns and reassuring them that their student can and will achieve, or even developing individual development plans for his basketball players only to arrive to work at 6:20 a.m. and do it all over again.”

Alison Harlan-Smith of Apollo Middle Prep earned similar praise in her nomination, which stated: “Alison is a master at building relationships… She is here at 6 a.m. to get her work done so that she can eat lunch with students and can stay after school to tutor. I have seen her spending hours tutoring current and former students who have come back to get help after school. Not only that, but sometimes she even tutors while working the concessions at sporting events – and never misses the opportunity to watch as much of the game as she can, and cheer on each and every one of her students by name.”

The nomination form for Hunters Lane teacher Jennifer Reist stated: “Her kids to her are an investment into the future that someday will impact all of us. She believes in her students and expects their best effort at everything they do… With her guidance, perseverance and the love for what she does, I feel strongly that the kids of Hunters Lane High School have benefited by just knowing that they do have someone that cares for them.”