Teacher of the Year Finalist

Sharon Teacher Selected as TN Teacher of the Year Finalist
Posted on 06/03/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Sharon Teacher Selected as TN Teacher of the Year FinalistNASHVILLE, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the nine statewide finalists for the 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year award. Danielle VanCleave Johnson, second grade teacher at Sharon School, has been named one of the three finalists from West Tennessee. 

The nine finalists represent each of the eight Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) areas in the state as well as the Shelby County-Municipals area, with three finalists in each Grand Division: West, Middle, and East.

“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:

West Tennessee: John Frizzell,  Riverdale Elementary, Germantown; Brianne Matheney, Chester County High; 
Danielle VanCleave Johnson, Sharon School

Middle Tennessee: Laura Lavery Boyd, Poplar Grove Middle; Robyn Olson, Richland School; Erin Blalock, Warren County High School  

East Tennessee: Sheron Smith, Arnold Memorial Elementary School; Elizabeth Evans, Grand Oaks Elementary School; 
Morgan Rankin, South Side School, Johnson City  

Nominations of up to three educators representing each of the three grade bands were accepted from the state’s school districts. Out of more than 237 applications, 27 regional semifinalists were identified by CORE region selection committees, and the nine finalists were then selected by a state-level selection committee.

Legislators representing the finalists’ home areas commented on this prestigious recognition and achievement.

“It is my honor to congratulate Danielle VanCleave for being selected as a finalist for this year’s Teacher of the Year Award,” said State Sen. John Stevens. “Congratulations for doing an outstanding job in inspiring our students to do their best every day.”

Director of Weakley County Schools Randy Frazier affirmed the selection. "Danielle is known for her commitment and her creativity in the classroom. We are grateful that she has invested her talents and skills in the children at Sharon School. I am thrilled the state will have the opportunity to hear from her and look forward to what she will bring back to us."

Teacher of the Year candidates must have been teaching full-time for at least three years. Additionally, they are evaluated based on having a track record of exceptional gains in student learning and being effective school and community leaders.

“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!”

Grand Division winners and, ultimately, the Tennessee Teacher of the Year will be selected from this group of finalists and announced during an honorary celebration this fall following a panel interview with each finalist.

The final winner will represent Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition and serve as an ambassador for education in the state throughout the 2021-22 school year.

Finalists will also have the opportunity to serve on Commissioner Schwinn’s Teacher Advisory Council for the duration of the 2021-22 school year. The council is composed of expert teachers who provide feedback and inform the work of the department throughout the academic year.