Local teacher named finalist for state ‘Teacher of the Year’

Published 2:02 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022

By Angela Cutrer
Elizabethton City School drama teacher Megan Foster has been named one of nine finalists for the 2022-2023 Tennessee Teacher of the Year award.
The winner will represent Tennessee at all required National Teacher of the Year events, including several national leadership conferences and the national recognition week in Washington, D.C. He or she will also fulfill Tennessee Teacher of the Year speaking requests and presentations, as well as serve a two-year term on the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council.
The Teacher of the Year will travel the state and regions to share expertise with community groups, businesses, government officials and future teachers as an advocate for educational issues.
Foster has a bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in French and theater and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the same school. She plans to begin working on a master of arts in French at Appalachian State.
A theater and French teacher at Elizabethton High School, she also serves as well as an adjunct French instructor at Milligan University.
“I think that teaching is one of the most noble and humane professions,” Foster said. “I’ve been teaching for 13 years; 12 of those with Elizabethton City Schools.
“One of my favorite aspects of teaching is spending time with students every day. That may seem ordinary, but that is how teachers are able to make the extraordinary happen. They have the time and the opportunity to not only impart knowledge, but to show students how to be better and to embrace their passions.”
Foster gave credit on all those who came before her. “I am a teacher today because teachers invested in me,” she said. “My mother, Jane Montgomery Dunkelberg, is a retired ECS teacher. My godparents, Flora and Henry Joy, are retired professor and teachers. Lisa Smith is one of my closest friends, but before that, she was my high school French teacher.
“And today, I am surrounded by colleagues who guide me, challenge me, advise me, and teach me. Without them, I could not do my job successfully.”
Foster explained that she was chosen as Teacher of the Year at her school by her colleagues. From there, the district chose one teacher from each grade band (elementary, middle, and high school), and then chose one teacher to represent the district.
She became a regional semifinalist after responding to questions the state department provided, which added her to a total of 27 teachers. From there, she responded to yet more questions, and provided additional documentation, including letters of recommendation, resume and a biography.
“I have now advanced from those 27 to be a regional finalist,” she said. “This means I am one of nine teachers representing our region for the Tennessee Teacher of the Year.  I have a Zoom interview Friday and I will be recognized in Nashville in August. I will also serve a one-year term on the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council.
“It has been an absolute honor to go through this process,” she added. “It has given me a chance to reflect, align and proclaim my passion for my career. It was a professional goal of mine to become Teacher of the Year at the school level at some point in my career, so this acknowledgment has exceeded my expectations and has given me an overwhelming sense of gratitude and validation.
“I am so thankful to my students, colleagues, administrators, and district for supporting me.”
Finalists will be recognized at the annual Excellence in Education Celebration held in Nashville at the Loveless Barn Aug. 25. At that point, the Grand Division winner will be announced as well as the Tennessee Teacher of the Year.

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