February 1, 2018
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Barbara Powers had no idea Lauren Lane, a sixth-grade science teacher at Central Magnet, was sitting in a hospital bed when she answered the phone.
Lane was recovering from surgery. Powers was calling to give Lane the news that she had been selected as the districtwide Teacher of the Year at the middle school level for Rutherford County Schools. The unexpected news made Lane feel a whole lot better than she had been.
“That cheers you up a little bit,” said Lane, who immediately followed with calls of her own to her husband and mother. “It gave me a little boost while I was laying there.”
Lane is one of three districtwide selections made by the school district this year, and those three will now proceed in the regional competition as part of Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year program.
Melina Gonzalez (Blackman) was selected as the elementary school-level Teacher of the Year, while Eldridge Lawrence Sprolden (Holloway) was selected at the high school level.
This year’s RCS Teacher of the Year banquet will take place Feb. 28 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites, in Murfreesboro.
Gonzalez and Sprolden were speechless when they got the news.
It was a surreal moment for Gonzalez.
She talked about working among “so many amazing educators,” while Sprolden said his focus is on student success and had not even thought about the Teacher of the Year honors.
“I really wasn’t thinking about it,” he admitted. “I was absorbed and immersed in my teaching and focused on my students.”
That night was an evening of reflection.
Sprolden was grateful, inspired and encouraged to continue helping students achieve an even greater mastery.
“How can that serve my mission,” Sprolden said, “which is helping my students develop the skills and the knowledge they need to be successful in any arena at the next stage of education.”
He’s used this opportunity to show students they can achieve their preferred outcome if they understand and place a value on the importance of loving what they do, giving it their best effort and never giving up.
Though all teachers focus on their students, Sprolden, Lane and Gonzalez eventually admitted it felt good to be recognized.
They each shared their moment with students, fellow faculty members and administrators, and as Gonzalez said, “They’re the reason I’m in the spotlight right now.”
“Sometimes it’s good to hear you’re doing a good job and your school and your colleagues and your district is behind you,” Lane said, “and reaffirms that to you, which is nice.”
The following is a complete list of the 2017-2018 Teachers of the Year from all 47 Rutherford County schools.
- Barfield Elementary: Jeni Sanders
- Blackman Elementary: Melina Gonzalez
- Blackman High: Ginna Hamby
- Blackman Middle: Cynthia Vaughan
- Brown’s Chapel Elementary: Kerri Womack
- Buchanan Elementary: Amanda Roach
- Cedar Grove Elementary: Daniel Rasmussen
- Central Magnet: Lauren Lane
- Christiana Elementary: Melissa Mankin
- Christiana Middle: Jessica Alley
- Daniel McKee High: Ashley Meatte-Grimes
- David Youree Elementary: Kimberly Burton
- Eagleville: Cristy Martin
- Holloway High: Eldridge Lawrence Sprolden
- Homer Pittard Campus: Tonia Carter Nadeau
- John Coleman Elementary: Kate Elmore
- Kittrell Elementary: Denise Bailiff
- Lascassas Elementary: Tina Duggin
- LaVergne High: Megan Bruck
- LaVergne Lake: Gage Morse
- LaVergne Middle: Tibitha C. Neal
- LaVergne Primary: Andrew Lara
- McFadden: Sally Whittenburg
- Oakland High: Kathryn Elizabeth Mallari
- Oakland Middle: Melissa H. West
- Riverdale High: Lamar Davis
- Rock Springs Elementary: Kara Reed
- Rock Springs Middle: Laura Davis
- Rockvale Elementary: Stacey Nichelle Badger
- Rockvale Middle: Christopher Butner
- Rocky Fork Middle: David Cowan
- Roy Waldron Elementary: Terrence Surles
- Siegel High: Sharon V. Miller
- Siegel Middle: Karla Steward
- Smyrna Elementary: Jackyn Powell
- Smyrna High: Katherine Tuter
- Smyrna Middle: Susan Russ
- Smyrna Primary: Jana Gibson
- Smyrna West: Kelly Messerly
- Stewarts Creek Elementary: Patty Vidaurri
- Stewarts Creek High: Amanda Marie Tupper
- Stewarts Creek Middle: Shannon D. Cron
- Stewartsboro Elementary: Kristy Arrowood
- Thurman Francis: Heather Reedy
- Walter Hill Elementary: Gina McClanahan
- Whitworth-Buchanan Middle: Joshua Goslowsky
- Wilson Elementary: Amy S. Ellis