A data-driven second grade teacher, a middle school math teacher who says “every number has meaning” and a high school English teacher who emphasizes group problem solving are Washington County’s teachers of the year for 2016-17.
Each year the Tennessee Department of Education sponsors the Teacher of the Year program. This program provides the opportunity to recognize outstanding teachers as well as promote respect and appreciation for teachers in schools throughout Tennessee.
In Washington County, the System Level Teacher of the Year for 2016-17 in the PreK-Grade 4 Category is Caitlin Tomski, a second grade teacher at Lamar Elementary School. The 2016-17 System Level Teacher of the Year in the grade 5-8 category is Eric Campbell, a middle school mathematics teacher at South Central Elementary School. The System Level Teacher of the Year for 2016-17 in the grade 9-12 Category is Lisa Cox, an English teacher at Daniel Boone High School.
Tomski has taught second grade at Lamar Elementary School for four years. She serves in several leadership roles at the school and district levels. She is the Grade Level Leader, a chairperson for the School Improvement Plan team, a Common Core Learning Leader, and a TN Ready Grade Level District leader. Tomski was honored as a 2015 East Tennessee State University/Eastman Scholar Mathlete and has been published in Upper East Tennessee Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Tomski believes the use of data and best teaching practices are the keys to success. “My students and I conference with one another about how to attain the goals we set academically together,” says Tomski. “My classroom is a place of movement and creativity with many student-led activities.”
Campbell has spent the past seven years teaching middle school mathematics at South Central Elementary School. Campbell holds multiple leadership roles including Lead Math Teacher at South Central School, EPIC! Committee member, Washington County Curriculum Committee member, and Washington County Math TN Ready Team member. He has been chosen as South Central’s Teacher of the Year in grades 5-8 for three consecutive years.
Campbell characterizes his classroom as data-driven because he breaks down each student’s work into areas of strength and areas of concern. This practice reaps benefits with his students performing at or near the top of the system’s TCAP scores for math.
“I don’t want my students just learning a process,” Campbell says. “I want my students to be able to break down word problems and know that every number has meaning.”
Cox was honored as Teacher of the Year for her work with high school students. Cox has 21 years of teaching experience at Daniel Boone High School in the English department. Cox is the designated Reading Specialist for Daniel Boone, assisting fellow teachers who are interested in improving reading in the classroom. Along with her regular classroom teaching duties, she compiles materials for teachers and offers classroom strategies for improving learning.
Cox is also a member of the Washington County District Curriculum Team. This team works to create bench mark assessment for grades 9-12 in English and math by establishing timelines for implementation as well as informing and training the school staff.
Cox believes in a student-centered classroom with students completing most assignments in groups and working as a team on projects. “This allows for more individualized instruction to be given to lower-performing students and allows the higher-performing students to move at their own pace through assignments,” says Cox.
Director of Schools, Ronald Dykes says he is proud to have them as part of the Washington County educational family.