West’s McLaughlin named teacher of the year finalist

For the second year in a row, a Morristown-Hamblen High School West teacher has been named a finalist as state Teacher of the Year.

Brian McLaughlin, a math teacher at the school, has been selected to represent the First District, which comprises most of northeast Tennessee.

“I was excited and grateful,” McLaughlin said Thursday morning about hearing the news.

McLaughlin, who is 32-years-old, has taught at West High School for 11 years. Amy Whaley, a journalism and computer teacher at West High School, was a finalist last year.

The next steps will be for McLaughlin to conduct an interview in Nashville with the Tennessee Department of Education. He said at this time he was not exactly clear about the process and there was a “little bit of mystery” behind what’s next.

“I think they’re trying to keep us on our toes,” he said.

He teaches Algebra II, Honors Algebra II and AP Statistics at the high school. He was named Teacher of the Year at West High School in January.

McLaughlin said he knew by the time he was 11 that he wanted to be a teacher.

Growing up in Kingsport, he said he always knew he was good at math, but he had a teacher early on who saw that he had an ability to instruct others. She encouraged him to teach others math in the classroom.

He said by the time he went to Robbinsville Middle School, he also had more teachers encourage and support him to teach.

“They saw a gift I didn’t see,” he said.

McLaughlin will now compete for either state Teacher of the Year of Teacher of the Year for the East Tennessee Grand Division. The state education department holds a dinner every fall and will announce the winners at that banquet.

In the meantime, he will continue to do the job he is excited and passionate about.

“I see it as a calling,” he said. “A God gifted calling.”