SERC looks to reward teachers

Some teachers at Farragut schools and Hardin Valley Academy may get recognition, including a cash prize, from the town of Farragut.

The Farragut Knox County Schools Education Relations Committee discussed future recognitions for teachers during its Tuesday, June 7, meeting. They agreed they would recognize the teachers already chosen for Teacher of the Year Awards in Knox County.

“I wish we could recognize each and every teacher. I think we have some of the most excellent teachers here in our school systems. They are outstanding … but teachers are underpaid and underappreciated, so anything and everything that we can do to help recognize all the effort and hard work and love that they put into their jobs is a great thing,” Kristen Pennycuff-Trent, SERC Chair, said after the meeting.

During the meeting, Pennycuff-Trent said there were 170 Teachers of the Year in Farragut schools. She said in 2016 there were two Teachers of the Year from FPS, three from Farragut Intermediate and four each from Farragut Middle, Farragut High School and Hardin Valley Academy.

Gary Palmer, assistant town administrator, said he would discuss with David Smoak, town administrator, the possibility of rewarding the Farragut area Teachers of the Year with $8,500 each.

The SERC also discussed and drafted changes to its strategic plan from 2012. Among the drafted changes was the explicit inclusion of attending the Town’s Intro to Farragut Class. The committee members discussed other ways they could engage with the community.

Visiting EDC member Naoko Blue asked about parent-teacher associations and parent-teacher -student associations.

Pennycuff-Trent said EDC had gotten PTA presidents to come in the past, but not recently. Palmer said the problem with getting people to come to SERC forums was that SERC has to go through the same bureaucratic process as others in order to obtain resources for the schools.

“I think they showed up early on because they thought this was a forum where they could get some traction, and because we don’t have that authority, it’s kind of just withering,” he said.

Tennessee Department of Education’s guidelines for Teacher of the Year say each division, grade or department within a school may nominate a candidate. TDEC encourages schools to consider nominations from parents, students and other community members.

The faculty then chooses teachers in the categories of pre-kindergarten-through fourth grade, fifth-through-eighth grade and ninth-through-12th grade. Abbey Harris, Public Affairs specialist for Knox County Schools, confirmed the posted guidelines’ accuracy.