Educators meet in Nashville

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Left to right: Dr. Lana Seivers, Dean, MTSU College of Education and past Commissioner of Education; Teresa Brown, Cecelia Johnson, Meri Bigham, Carla Caldwell, and Theresa Carl, President, Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation.
Photo submitted

The 2018 XI State Legislative Symposium of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international honorary society for women educators, was held in Nashville on Feb. 6-7.

The Tuesday evening symposium was composed of representatives from the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives serving on education committees as legislation is being filed for a vote this spring. Some of the issues discussed by the legislators and TEA lobbyist Jim Wrye were: early intervention, family dynamics affecting students, drug issues, a need for character building programs, preparation of the future work force, and accountability.

The testing program has been of great concern to the legislators. The test data does not get back to the schools in a timely manner. The colleges of education are not graduating enough educators to add to the work force to meet the demand. The problem is compounded by higher salaries in neighboring states such as Georgia, Alabama, and Kentucky. Tennessee is faced with a shortage of teachers and must address this problem.

The Wednesday morning session was first addressed by Theresa Carl, president of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. Since 2004, over 31 million books have been mailed to Tennessee children. All Tennessee children have access to books in the home starting at birth. When the child turns 5, he/she will have a personal library of 60 books. This is also part of the Governor’s plan “Read to Be Ready” which is working toward having 75% of 3rd grade children reading on grade level by year 2025.

Dr. Lana Seivers, MTSU College of Education Dean and past TN Commissioner of Education was the keynote speaker for the morning assembly. Her positive message to the room full of classroom teachers, administrators, and retired teachers was to find your “true north” and stick to it. She explained this as “be professional, put students first, and stay the course.” As MTSU Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Seivers reported that colleges of education today are adding more experiences in schools, clinical experiences and classroom management in their teacher preparation programs. She addressed the need for more teachers as there is a teacher shortage in Tennessee. Dr. Seivers closed her message to the assembly of educators by saying, “Every single child has value, and what you do really does matter.”