May 8, 2019
Rutherford County Schools
Terrence Surles is among 31 educators who have been selected for the 2019-20 class of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship through a competitive admissions process, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) announced today.
“The Tennessee Educator Fellowship convenes talented and driven educators who are relentless advocates for improving student achievement through student-focused policies and practices,” SCORE President and CEO David Mansouri said. “The fellows bring unique and diverse perspectives and experiences that are invaluable as they participate in local and state-level conversations about preparing all students for success in college, career and life.”
Surles, who has been an educator for 17 years, currently teaches K–5 special education at Roy Waldron Elementary School in LaVergne. He was the only educator in Rutherford County selected this year.
“It’s a big honor to be an educator speaking for the students and help elevate teachers voice and effecting policy,” Surles said.
The Tennessee Educator Fellowship is a yearlong program that equips teachers, school counselors, interventionists and librarians to learn about education policy and advocate for their students and their profession. The educators chosen this year work in a variety of settings: traditional public schools, public magnet schools and public charter schools.
Since 2014, the fellowship has supported more than 180 educators to engage in critical discussions about education policy by speaking at public events, inviting policymakers into their classrooms, writing about their experiences in state and national publications, creating regional professional networks and serving on state-level policy committees.
“The 31fellows – from different backgrounds, grade levels, subjects and regions of the state – bring diverse perspectives to policy and practice conversations with a clear focus on greater academic growth and opportunities for all Tennessee students,” SCORE Educator Engagement Associate Leigh Cooksey said.
This is the sixth year of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship. The fellows chosen for the 2019-20 cohort have a combined teaching experience of 358 years and represent elementary, middle and high schools in 26 districts across East, Middle and West Tennessee. The members of this cohort teach English language arts, math, science, social studies, STEM, construction trades and special education in urban, suburban and rural schools. The cohort also includes educators who serve as school counselors, a librarian and an educator who teaches English language learners.
The 2019-20 Tennessee Educator Fellows are:
Dr. Allie Dempsey
Dr. Amanda Hargis
Tameka H. Marshall
Dr. Tekeysha McCown
TERRENCE SURLES; Roy Waldron Elementary
Past fellows have led new education initiatives and worked to improve outcomes for all students.
Their work has included advocating for the use of high-quality instructional materials; starting a leadership academy for students to explore a career in teaching; bringing community leaders into classrooms to discuss the importance of literacy in their careers; expanding access to early postsecondary opportunities for students; amplifying the voice, presence and support for educators of color; and more.
Fellows also have engaged in education conversations at the local, state and national levels and written op-eds and blog posts for news and education outlets, including The Tennessean, Education Postand Hechinger Report.
Throughout the upcoming year, the fellows will learn through in-person and online convenings and will serve as liaisons between their colleagues, their communities and policymakers as Tennessee continues the work of improving academic achievement for all students.
“I want to make sure that I’m able to help students every way possible,” Surles said, “and help all the stakeholders in every way, and if I can have a better understanding of how the policies are working from the top down. And how my voice and their voice can help refine that process of what’s being done in our classrooms and in our government.”