Melissa Collins, a second-grade teacher from John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis-Shelby County Schools, has been named the 2023 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. This prestigious award was announced at the department’s annual Excellence in Education celebration.
Upon receiving the award, Dr. Collins expressed her gratitude and appreciation, saying, “I represent the state of Tennessee in all educators and students. This award is for us. It’s not just about me. It’s also about Memphis, the community, the district I work for. It shows with hard work and dedication; dreams can come true.”
Dr. Melissa Collins has been teaching for over 20 years and has been recognized for her passion for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and STEAM education. She is a STEM Coordinator at the district level and has been instrumental in developing STEM curricula and professional development for educators. Dr. Collins serves on multiple boards and committees at the state and national level, where she collaborates with educators to develop effective STEM programs.
Commissioner Penny Schwinn praised Dr. Collins for her commitment to excellence and her impact on students and communities. “Teachers are the backbone of our school communities and play a vital role in helping our students learn and grow. Tennessee is fortunate to have so many incredible educators, and I am honored to recognize Dr. Melissa Collins as the 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year,” said Schwinn.
Virginia 2023 Teacher of the Year’s dedication to education extends beyond the classroom. She was chosen by the Varkey Foundation as one of the finalists for the Global Teacher Prize in 2018 based on her effectiveness in inspiring students to learn. Last year, she was named an Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year and was inducted into the National Teacher Hall of Fame.
Dr. Collins’ passion for teaching extends beyond STEM subjects. She is committed to creating an environment where students see themselves as readers, scientists, and mathematicians. She believes in the power of experiential learning and encourages her students to put on lab coats and engage in hands-on experiments. “It’s something magical about my students when they put on those lab coats,” she said.
Melissa Collins’ passion for teaching, dedication to excellence, and commitment to STEM education have made a significant impact on her students and the educational community in Tennessee. Her recognition as Tennessee Teacher of the Year is well-deserved and serves as an inspiration to educators and students alike.