Hamblen County 2013-14 Teachers of the Year

Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 10:33 am

The Hamblen County Department of Education is excited to announce the school-level Teachers of the Year.

One from each category will be chosen to represent the school system at the district level. A team of educators from Sevier County Schools will choose those three winners.

Pre-K – 4

Thelma Metgzer, Alpha

Darrell Hubbard, Fairview-Marguerite

Kristen Brockman, Hillcrest

Sharon Fuller, Lincoln Elementary

Jessica Moore, Manley – kindergarten

Lana Self, Russellville

Alison Helton, Union Heights

Chanda Parker, West Elementary

Diane Spoone, Witt


Dawn Rogers, East Ridge

John Watkins, John Hay

Missy Hayes, Lincoln Middle

Clyda Masengill, Meadowview

Judy Moses, Miller Boyd

David Dollar, West View

Christy Greene, Whitesburg


Emily Gwinn, East High

Chris Hayes, West High

Pre-K – 4

Thelma Metzger

Alpha Elementary

Thelma Metzger, first grade teacher with 22 years experience, is Alpha Elementary’s Teacher of the Year.

She believes that the best way to ensure that students grow and learn is to make learning relevant, fun, engaging, and of high interest. “If kids want to come to come to school and look forward to what they will be doing next, the stage is set for academic success,” she said.

According to Metzger, classrooms should be welcoming, comfortable and secure which she said is “a healthy first step in preparing students for the challenges they will encounter.”

Noting that engaging students should be first and foremost, Metzger said, “Students need to know that you respect and care about them as a whole.”

She intentionally makes time to find out what’s going on in their personal lives, allows them to share, includes them in the planning of classroom events.

“The ‘how’ and ‘what’ I am teaching are very important,” she said, “However, I strive to try to remember the ‘who’ I am teaching…that is the secret to reaching students and preparing them for the learning journey.”

Metzger said the best evidence of learning and growth is that her students are engaged. “They take charge of their learning, they learn to solve problems, and deal with the different personalities in their groups.”

Committed to involving parents in her class and fostering positive relationships, she said, “I try as much as possible to include parents in our day-to-day learning by keeping them abreast of our classroom news, expectations, student progress and coming events.”

Darrell Hubbard


Second grade teacher Darrell Hubbard is Fairview-Marguerite’s Teacher of the Year. He is an eight-year educator.

Hubbard, a member of the School Improvement Team, the Sunshine Club and the 30-Minute Thursday, utilizes many different strategies and practices in the classroom.

He encourages helping students to learn and building positive self-esteem. “Having ELL students in the classroom can be a challenge,” Hubbard said. “Cooperative learning in the classroom has made their transition to the English language easier. Pairing up ELL students with English-dominate students to be effective in earlier grades.”

Hubbard said having objectives and making them known to his students before and during a lesson has been helpful. “When students know and understand their goals, they are more successful,” he said.

“Giving students positive attention and encouragement can go a long with in their work ethics,” Hubbard added. “When a child’s self-esteem is given a positive boost, the sky is the limit.”

Hubbard explained his students have experienced substantial gains beyond their previous year in many subjects.

Kristen Brockman


Kindergarten teacher Kristen Brockman, believes that building a personal relationship and maintaining high expectations for all students creates an environment where all children can grow and learn.

“My positive classroom environment is student-centered with a constant focus on learning, strengthening character traits, and building a sense of community,” she said.

“In an effort to embody all learning styles, I use various strategies and practices and focus on student interests. Incorporating student choice is a large component of my classroom instruction. When given the opportunity to have some control over their learning, children become focused and involved.”

Strategies she uses include active learning, cooperative learning, and integrated technology.

“I rarely provide my student with the answers to questions or problems,” she explained. “I provide them with the tools they need to discover the answers on their own. This practice inevitably leads to the students feeling a huge sense of accomplishment when they finally solve the problem.”

At Hillcrest, Brockman is a member of the Instructional Leadership Team and her classroom has served as a model for Common Core instruction. She has provided leadership in the Common Core ELA, reading intervention and assisted with the countywide math-pacing guide.

Brockman, a 15-year educator, has been in her present position for 10 years.

Sharon Fuller

Lincoln Elementary

Sharon Fuller, literacy leader for Lincoln Elementary, is representing her school. The last 12 years of her 27 years has been spent in her current position.

When Lincoln Elementary received a Reading Excellence grant 12 years ago, Fuller was chosen as Literacy Leader to implement that grant. She met regularly with teachers, established a professional library and a bookroom of leveled readers. After selecting assessments, she trained teachers to administer the assessments and interpret the results.

Fuller’s teaching is very responsive to student performance. “Currently I work with Tier III reading students and one group of Tier II students,” she said. “I administer diagnostic assessments to help determine the focus of instruction.”

Running records, DIBELS, STAR progress mentoring, as well as daily formative assessments, help show if the students are making progress with the instruction she provides. “My instruction is explicit and systematic,” she said.

One way she connected with students and their families was “Meet Me at the Library” to encourage the use of the public library. Teachers met parents in the parking lot, familiarized them with the facility, and helped them apply for library cards.

During the school’s open house, Fuller conducts break-out sessions on how parents can help with reading at home.

At the district level, Fuller is a member of the LEAD Mentor committee and has served on the reading textbook and grade card committees.

At her school, Fuller has served on the Instructional Leadership Team and the School Advisory Leadership and Data Team. She has helped to revise the school’s Title I School Improvement Plan.

She has conducted numerous professional development sessions at ETEA workshops, Title I convention, at the local district level and for the Lakeway Reading Council.

Jessica Moore


Kindergarten teacher Jessica Moore, a state Common Core math coach, is her school’s Teacher of the Year. She has been an educator for seven years.

“As a kindergarten teacher, my main focus is to create a strong foundation in reading and mathematics,” Moore said. “With the shift to Common Core state standards, I am constantly thinking about what my students need to learn, not what they need to do, I am asking questions instead of giving answers, I am listening more than talking, and I am always trying to figure out how students can best construct their own learning in relevant and meaningful ways.”

She said she has found that assessment and instruction are inseparable. “Assessing my students allows me to differentiate and modify my instruction,” she said. “With this approach my students continue to show growth.”

Moore, who serves as team leader and data team member at her school, was presenter on How Common Core Looks in a Kindergarten Classroom and Common Core Math. She has been recognized for being a member of the Tennessee Core CRA Scoring Support Group.

At Manley Moore participates in non-academic leadership positions including working with the Manley Yearbook, organizing drives for Food on Foot and Coats for the Cold and creating monthly newsletters to keep parents informed.

She enjoys spending time with family, supporting her son in Upward basketball, and attending Leadvale Baptist Church in White Pine.

Lana Self


Lana Self, Speech/Language Pathologist, is Russellville Elementary’s Teacher of the Year. She has been an educator for three decades.

Her instructional leadership activities include Russellville School Data Team representative for Special Education and Clinical Fellowship Year Supervisor for candidates seeking ASHA certification.

“I believe that each student should be challenged beyond their identified limits,” Self said, “In addition, all materials and activities should be relevant to each student’s daily life to demonstrate the functionality of the communication skills addressed.”

She encourages parents to reinforce the skills addressed in the home.

“I have experienced a successful rate of ‘graduation’ from my program,” she said. “I enjoy seeing students master their objectives and return to the general curriculum with age-appropriate communication skills.”

Self maintains her ASHA certification and completes continuing education in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Apraxia of Speech, Articulation Therapy, Language Development, Stuttering, Behavior Management, ADHD, Sensory Disorders, Evidence-Based Practice, and Technology in the Classroom.

During the course of her career as Speech-Language Pathologist for Hamblen County Schools, she has maintained the practice of individualized instruction for each student on her caseload, which usually consists of 70-80 students per year.

Alison Helton

Union Heights

Alison Helton, first grade teacher and “Tornado Time” facilitator (program designed to provide intervention and academic support for students), is Union Heights Teacher of the Year.

“Teaching strategies I use in my class daily consist of a high sense of classroom management in combination with data-driven best practices,” Helton said. “Best practices include addressing all standards through Common Core by using explicit word analysis and instruction including phonics, cognitive and comprehension skills, and providing a literacy-rich environment to promote reading.”

She also stated her passion for teaching and expressed thankfulness for the support of her community as well as being able to work so closely with colleagues, administrators, and superior mentors.

She addresses Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences including kinesthetic, linguistic, logical, mathematical, and musical intelligences to enhance teaching to meet a variety of learning styles.

Helton explains that these strategies and teaching practices have been successful based on growth in learning both in achievement and annual growth for her students at Union Heights Elementary.

“Our students in first grade were ranked in the top three for the county in both reading and math and have shown the greatest gains for the current year in Mathematics for Hamblen County schools.”

Her extensive list of instructional leadership includes:

• School Leadership Team

• Vertical Professional Learning Community Leader

• Presenter at ETSU for the FOCUS Best Practices Workshop

• Teacher representative for SCORE

• Common Core Small Group Instruction presenter

• Thoughtful Classroom Initiative school coordinator

• Helped to implement the gap closure grant for Union Heights

• Title I convention presenter on the Importance of Community Involvement.

Chanda Parker

West Elementary

Chanda Parker, West Elementary’s Teacher of the Year, believes in making learning as much fun and exciting as possible. She is the reading and math specialist for the school.

She loves using the Thoughtful Classroom strategies, making certain that all learning styles are met because “it gives every student the chance to shine.”

Before joining the faculty at West Elementary, Parker served the school district as technology instructional coach. At her school, she is a mentor teacher, a member of the School Improvement Team, and is Literacy Day Coordinator.

As Literacy Day Coordinator, she jumped out of an airplane because West Elementary met its reading goal. She edited the videotape to be shown as in “real time” for the reading celebration.

She presented to the Education Networks of America (ENA) about podcasting in the classroom and has conducted many technology sessions for the school district.

Parker, who has served as both an elementary and middle school basketball coach, soccer coach, has worked with cheerleading squads, judged science fairs, was a yearbook sponsor, and was a judge for the Living Museum.

Her continuing education includes Thoughtful Classroom training, Title I conference, Six-Trait Writing Workshop and Root Cause Analysis.

Diane Spoone


Diane Spoone, who has been an educator for 28 years, has been Witt’s reading specialist for 13 years. At Witt, Spoone provides small group differentiated instruction. She is responsible for completing universal screenings on all students and progress monitoring those students in Tier 2 and Tier 3 intervention groups. She monitor’s those student’s assessment data regularly. “I readjust my teaching practices based on the needs of my students,” Spoone said.

“Those students not making adequate progress are referred for after-school tutoring.” She believes all students can learn and grow if they are exposed to a loving and nurturing environment.

Spoone fosters parent involvement with such activities as Family Reading Night, during which time she has opened the school after hours to allow students and parents some quality time to read together. She provided guest storytellers and speakers to add to their experience. She participates in Open House and Fun Night activities and has an open door policy to meet with concerned parents.

Her instructional leadership activities have included: Member of the School Improvement Committee and Data Team; Presenter for Tennessee School Boards Association and Title I Conference; Read Across America chairperson; Training in Common Core, Rigor, Data-Driven Instruction and Response to Intervention.


Dawn Rogers

East Ridge

East Ridge eighth grade teacher Dawn Rogers lives by the philosophy, “one must find ways to get one’s students to believe in the importance of their education.”

Rogers explains this philosophy further by adding, “First of all, I think you need to build strong relationships with your students. Students need to feel a strong connection to the educator in order to ensure success. I also believe a teacher must focus on the standards, but this must be done in a engaging way.”

Rogers uses the previous years’ test data to plan a correlation between students and standards that need the most reinforcement. “I am a strong advocate for storytelling in the classroom; this gets students hooked and involved in history,” she said.

In addition, she has been implementing many Common Core specific strategies such as requiring text-based answers and “quick-writes.”

Rogers explains, “These strategies are making a huge impact in my classroom by setting higher standards for my students.”

Rogers also stresses the importance of classroom management. “Students need a teacher to be consistent and create a conducive learning environment. These strategies and practices seem to be working since we have received the award for highest gain and highest achievement in eighth grade social studies out of all the middle schools in Hamblen County.”

Rogers, a 25-year educator, has spent 11 years in her current position. She is the team leader of the eighth grade team and her instructional leadership activities include Power of Positive Thinker presenter, Common Core training, School Improvement Committee and being an intern for the National Weather Service.

In addition, Rogers also served on the committee to write the pacing guide for middle school social studies for Hamblen County.

John Watkins

John Hay

John Watkins, fifth grade teacher and grade-level chair, is John Hay’s Teacher of the Year.

He serves as a member of Data Team and the Leadership Committee, and has led countywide professional development sessions on technology.

Watkins uses various educational strategies in his classroom to ensure his students are successful. “The strategy I feel is most successful is making sure each child feels welcome and successful throughout the day,” he said. “I set high expectations for all students and the expectations are clear and easy to understand. All my students know what I expect from them.”

He uses small groups, cooperative learning groups, team-teaching, as well as technology such as ELMO document cameras, SmartBoards, an MacBook computers.

Over the last three years, more than 70 percent of his students have performed at the proficient or above level in math and more than 90 percent in Social Studies.

Watkins has coached both the girls and boys basketball teams and has served the schools Beta Club sponsor and Scholastic Bowl coach.

Missy Hayes

Lincoln Middle

Missy Hayes, science and world history teacher at Lincoln Heights Middle School, is her school’s Teacher-of-the-Year.

A 14-year educator, 12 of which has been at LHMS, Hayes’ vast instructional leadership portfolio includes:

• Team leader for sixth grade

• Learning Club Facilitator/Leader

• Why Try? In-service trainer

• Ron Clark Academy trained

• Common Core trained

• Anti-bullying trainer

At LHMS she is convinced the most important strategy must implement is creating a classroom with a tone of mutual respect where each student feels safe to learn, ask questions and grow.

“If the most basic component is missing, the best teaching practices will fail,” Hayes said. “I strive to get to know each of my students and develop a personal relationship with each child. I have found that is a solid foundation on which to build lessons using a variety of teaching strategies.”

She advocates the Thoughtful classroom method and the Reading for Meaning model because it transitions effectively to the new Common Core standards. “Labs also are a critical component of her science classroom.”

For the past three years, she and her team members have achieved the highest growth scores in the county for sixth grade science. “In essence, students who feel you value them and genuinely like them will perform better,” she said.

Hayes, who was recipient of the Colgate-Palmolive “Key Issue Institute” training, is a current participant in the Hamblen County DOE teacher externship program and was selected to participate in the Hamblen County Teacher/Industry Externship Program.

Clyda Masengill


Seventh grade reading and language arts teacher Clyda Masengill is Meadowview Middle School’s Teacher of the Year.

Masengill has created an engaging, motivating, and an intellectually stimulating learning environment for all students. “To ensure their achievement, student data is used to identify student strengths and their areas for improvement,” she said.

She uses strategies that are formed with data and research as well as best practices like Thoughtful Classroom and Six-Trait Writing.

“Instruction is provided through a variety of instructional experiences and assignments while continually assessing student learning,” she explained.

“I believe it also is important that I am sensitive to a child’s background and experiences, which is important to the ability to teach him or her, but it is also important to a student’s ability to learn. Providing a safe and secure environment for all students is essential to their learning. Students show much growth.”

Her extensive instructional leadership activities include:

• Thoughtful Classroom Chairperson

• School Improvement Plan Component Chairperson

• Peaceful School, SIOP and Six Trait Training

• Curriculum Mapping Team Member

• While at Meadowview she has designed and implemented a Peer Tutor Program, created and implemented “Sit-Down Dinners” for the entire student body, implemented an afterschool Book Club, and Saturday Tutoring.

Judy Moses

Miller Boyd

Miller Boyd Alternative School’s Teacher of the Year is Judy Moses, who teaches all subjects, K-8. She is a two-time MB Teacher of the Year, winning the distinction in 2010, and is recipient of the Tennessee Adult Education Professional Development Award.

A former Adult Education teacher, she is a certified TABE trainer and collaborated with staff members to achieve the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Interest Level for Performance Excellence for Hamblen county Adult Education.

A grant-writer, she has been successful in obtaining a grant from Workfoce Development to help dislocated workers and a Wal-Mart grant for under-educated adult learners. She also is a member of the team who developed curriculum for adult learners, and is Springboard teacher for sixth-eighth grade ELA.

Moses, who practices assertive discipline with positive reinforcement, maintains a classroom environment that is conducive to learning.

“As a part of her daily writing curriculum, students are given a writing prompt, all of which promote self esteem and give the students an opportunity to express their feelings and frustrations,” she said.

One activity in her class is “Teacher for the Day” in which students pick a math topic and prepare a lesson plan for it. “They present it to the class and answer questions from other students. This activity helps students better understand the role of a teacher,” Moses explained.

David Dollar

West View

David Dollar, a 22-year educator who teaches seventh grade science at West View Middle School, is his school’s Teacher of the Year.

Dollar is co-writer of common assessment science labs on each state standard, which allows students to get more of a hands-on understanding (bodily-kinesthetic) as opposed to learning verbally in class.

He implemented a standards-based folder system in recent years to better focus students on state performance indicators and grade level expectations.

After writing and receiving a grant from the Tennessee Foundation for Agriculture in the classroom, he developed an outdoor classroom for West View. The classroom was used for students to grow and sell flowers and vegetables to the faculty and the public. He also began an Environmental Club to instruct students in how to care for and properly raise animals on small family farms.

In 2011, he was named Outstanding Teacher for the White-Reinhardt Scholarship Program, given in recognition of outstanding achievement and commitment to the future of agriculture science education in the classroom.

Seven of Dollar’s last nine years have seen positive value-added scores in his science classroom.

Dollar has served West View as a member of the School Improvement Committee, the Fundraiser Committee, S Team Committee, and Team leader. He has served as Honors Day Emcee.

He has lead professional development related to Study Island, a standards-based on-line learning program.

Dollar, who has coached in Hamblen County for 16 years in the areas of basketball, track, cross-country, and wrestling, is proud of the fact that he started the cross-country team at Lincoln Middle and won the conference championship his last year there. He also helped coach the West View wrestling team to two conference titles.

Very active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Dollar has lead the West View FCA chapter in Christmas shoebox gifts for local children, working at the Daily Bread, MATS homeless shelter and Morristown Central Services.

He is a member of First Baptist Church, where he is a Sunday School teacher, on the visitation committee, and the jail ministry.

Christi Greene

Whitesburg Elementary

Christi Greene, speech/language therapist, is Whitesburg Elementary’s Teacher of the Year. She works at Whitesburg Elementary, East Ridge Middle, Lincoln Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools.

Greene is in charge of the provision of speech-language therapy serves at Whitesburg and East Ridge, as well as the screening, testing, and IEP development for students. At Lincoln, she provides supervision and support for a speech language therapist working toward her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

She also is in charge of the screening, testing, and IEP development for speech-language students. “I also serve as a liaison between contracted speech-language agency and the Lincoln Heights Elementary and Middle,” she added. As a Speech-Language Pathologist working within our schools, “I greatly value the input from the classroom teacher. The teacher sees the direct result that communication impairment has on academics.”

Several children at Whitesburg have successfully remediated their speech and language impairments because their teacher has referred them early and worked with the development of an educational plan for speech-language needs that truly targets the child’s communication needs within the classroom.


Emily Gwinn

East High

Emily Gwinn, ninth grade English teacher, is East High’s Teacher of the Year.

Lead Freshman English teacher, Gwinn supervises and coordinates ninth grade English teachers in Common Core curriculum, classroom management and state test prep strategies. She is a member of the Data Team that analyzes school scores and evaluates strategies for overall improvement.

Gwinn has lead, created, and implemented school-wide in-services including ELA Common Core instruction methods, Thoughtful Classroom strategies, Capturing Kids Hearts program and Reading techniques in the classroom.

To support student achievement, she was a member of the Common Assessment Team where she collaborated a ninth grade English assessment and the Standards Alignment Committee where she collaborated and aligned ninth grade English standards. She served as ACT preparation Director and worked on the Freshman Credit Recovery Program.

Gwinn adheres to the “Redo” policy, giving all students the opportunity to make-up failing grades, offers differentiated instruction and daily assessment, along with guided practice.

She offers tutoring to students in morning, afternoons and during homeroom, and has “class competition” as a motivational tool to enhance academic performance from at-risk students.

A Level 5 teacher, she achieved a 99 percent growth score compared to statewide teacher growth. East High English I was recognized for having the most growth and highest achievement.

Her past non-academic leadership positions include being the Varsity cheerleading sponsor, a Project Graduation volunteer; and serving on the Homecoming and Senior Night committees.

Chris Hayes

West High

Chris Hayes, 11-year educator who teaches Precalculus and AP calculus for grades 10-12, is West High School’s Teacher of the Year.

A member of the National Blue Ribbon School, Hayes notes the following leadership activities:

• Conducted faculty development on the “Focus on effects of low Income and poverty at home and at school”

• Lead professional development for new Algebra I teachers

• Developed curriculum for new honors level Finite Math course

• Active committee member in developing a pacing guide for Algebra I and aligned new state standards with ACT standards

• Credit recovery facilitator

In 2007, Hayes took over the Advanced Placement Calculus and Precalculus courses. To provide opportunities for students to grow in knowledge and understanding, he began to use techniques he learned from professional development.

“Throughout my lessons, I encourage my students never to give up and to continue to study the material presented to them,” Hayes said. “My philosophy is that not everyone will understand a standard the first tine it is presented.”

He uses classroom examples – in groups or individually – to give students the opportunity to discuss misunderstandings with their classmates or with him. “I encourage students to investigate why they made the mistakes they made,” he explained. “Asking themselves if the mistake was a careless mistake or a misunderstanding of the concept will better enable them to increase their knowledge.”

Students continue to learn from their mistakes. “This philosophy of growing students over time and teaching them not to be afraid to make mistakes has improved students’ Advanced Placement Calaulus AB scores,” Hayes said. “Starting with 2009, the Calculus AB average score is three or higher, with 70-80 percent of students scoring at that level.”

Additional evidence of his students’ success and growth over time has been demonstrated in their participation in the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association competition.

In the past five years, Hayes has had four students place first on the Precalculus exam and two on the Calculus exam.

Twelve of his students placed in the top 10 on the Precalculus exam and 20 in the Calculus exam.

-From Staff Reports

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