Education Commissioner McQueen Completes Second Year of Statewide Classroom Tour

Thursday, May 11, 2017 | 10:02am

PELHAM, Tenn.—Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen completed the second year of her Classroom Chronicles tour today, visiting classrooms and meeting with teachers and students in Pelham Elementary School in Grundy County and Griffith Elementary School in Sequatchie County. Over the course of the last two school years, she has met with thousands of teachers and visited 770 classrooms across 118 school districts – almost 85 percent of all districts in the state – on the Classroom Chronicles tour.

This school year, the tour focused on two of the commissioner’s priorities for the state: strengthening early grade reading practices and increasing opportunities for middle and high school students to access courses and opportunities that will better prepare them for postsecondary and the workforce. The commissioner also focused this year on visiting districts she had not visited last year to ensure voices across all parts of Tennessee are heard.

“From their first day of kindergarten to high school graduation, we want our students to receive an education that equips them to be lifelong learners,” Commissioner McQueen said. “Preparing our students to pursue their chosen path in life is a process that takes place throughout their K-12 experience. During this year’s Classroom Chronicles visits, I heard from both students and teachers about the importance of setting students up for success from day one and providing more opportunities for them to grow.”

Throughout the fall semester, Commissioner McQueen met with educators at each school on the tour and hosted roundtables with close to 200 high school students from a variety of backgrounds to hear about their experiences. The conversations covered a number of topics, from experiences that prepare students for postsecondary success, to school culture and extracurricular opportunities, to the goals that students are setting and the supports they need to reach them.

The spring semester focused on visits to elementary schools across the state, some of which included the First Lady Crissy Haslam, a strong advocate of early literacy. During this leg of the tour, Commissioner McQueen and Mrs. Haslam hosted teacher roundtables focused on educators’ perspectives and experiences teaching literacy skills in the early grades.

This summer, Commissioner McQueen will continue her focus on early grades reading by touring sites participating in the state’s Read to be Ready summer grant program. This year, the grant program awarded more than $8.5 million to 212 recipients that will lead summer camps focused on building strong literacy skills for our youngest students, with a focus on those who are most behind. Additionally, this month the department will release a practical guidance document called Teaching Literacy in Tennessee, which will serve as the department’s “how to” resource for teaching literacy in the early grades. Commissioner McQueen and department leadership will also host webinars and in-person meetings for a series of summer professional learning opportunities focused on early literacy.

To learn more about the Classroom Chronicles tour and to read stories from classrooms across Tennessee, visit the department’s blog at TNClassroomChronicles.org. For media inquiries contact Sara Gast at Sara.Gast@tn.gov or call (615) 532-6260.

Education