EPISODE 34: From State to Student in Tennessee

Back from several weeks' rest, we're back live on Thursday, January 14, at 4:00 pm US-EDT with a new episode of Reinventing School on Learning Revolution.

This time, we're trying something new. We're looking at the whole chain of education from Tennessee's Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn to Chief K-12 Impact Officer Dr. Sharon Roberts and Dr. Lisa Coons, Chief Academic Officerto Director for the Upper Cumberland Region Janice Fox to Director of Lauderdale County Schools Shawn Kimble and Director of Hamilton County Schools Dr. Bryan Johnson, Putnam County first grade teacher Sarah Vaughan, and a student from Hamilton County. Also: Dr. Ellen McIntyre, Dean, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Please join us on Thursdays for our live shows, or visit www.reinventing.school for the recorded versions.

More about this week's guests:

8420789488?profile=RESIZE_400xDr. Penny Schwinn was sworn in as Tennessee’s education commissioner on February 1, 2019. As commissioner, Dr. Schwinn is committed to building on Tennessee’s momentum over the last decade and plans to continue to accelerate growth through excellence in achievement, empowerment of students and teachers, and engagement of all stakeholders. Coming from a family of educators and committed to increasing access to an excellent education for all children, Commissioner Schwinn began her work as a high school history and economics teacher in Baltimore. Her early career also includes experience as a new teacher coach in south Los Angeles and time in the private sector, where she supervised work in operations, marketing, and information management. Prior to joining the Tennessee Department of Education, Commissioner Schwinn served as the Chief Deputy Commissioner of Academics at the Texas Education Agency. Commissioner Schwinn also previously served in other state and district roles as an Assistant Secretary of Education in the Delaware Department of Education and as Assistant Superintendent of Performance Management for the Sacramento City Unified School District. She is also the founder and former superintendent of Capitol Collegiate Academy, at the time one of the county’s highest-performing charter schools serving low-income students from a region of Sacramento where she grew up.  She also served as an elected Trustee for the Sacramento County Board of Education. Commissioner Schwinn earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California-Berkeley, her Master of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. in Education Policy from Claremont Graduate University in California. She is the proud parent of two daughters in Tennessee public schools, and a son not yet school age.


8447836656?profile=RESIZE_400xDr. Lisa Coons is Chief Academic Officer for the State of Tennessee. She was born into a family of educators, including her father and aunts, who served as high school teachers. After graduating from Wright State University, Lisa taught high school English in both rural and urban districts in central Ohio. She continued her education by earning a Master’s Degree in educational technology, a principal’s license, a superintendent’s license, and a curriculum and instruction license. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Coons has continued to advocate for children who have socio-economic barriers while focusing on developing teacher capacity and growing high-quality leaders to provide equitable opportunities for all children. Lisa was honored to serve Nashville children, teachers, and leaders as the Executive Officer for the Schools of Innovation. Dr. Coons returned to the Tennessee Department of Education in August 2019 and now serves as the Chief Academic Officer. Within this role, she oversees statewide academic programming from birth to high school.
8420795859?profile=RESIZE_400xSharon Roberts leverages deep expertise, experience, and credibility in K-12 to provide thought leadership across teams and activate key relationships in the field to drive impact in Tennessee. Prior to joining SCORE in 2012, Sharon served as Director of the Lebanon Special School District. She began her career in education as a special education teacher in the Grainger County School System. Sharon worked for more than 21 years in the Knox County School System where she served as a special education teacher, middle school science and reading teacher, instructional coach, principal, Assistant Superintendent for Supplementary Student Services, and Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services. She currently serves on several boards that further the cause of professional learning for educators, including the Learning Forward Foundation, Learning Forward Tennessee, and the Association of Independent and Municipal Schools (AIMS) Evaluation System of Tennessee. Sharon is a native of Knoxville and received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.


8420797857?profile=RESIZE_400xEllen McIntyre has served as the Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee for one year.  Prior to this role, McIntyre served in administrative roles at UNC Charlotte and North Carolina State University, and as a professor and university scholar at the University of Louisville.  She is also a former elementary classroom teacher.  Ellen’s scholarly work has focused on elementary reading instruction, especially for students who have struggled in school.  Her most recent work has focused on redesigning educator preparation programs so teachers are prepared to teach in any setting.


8481806863?profile=RESIZE_400xJanice Fox, Ed.D is the Executive Director of Upper Cumberland Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) with the Tennessee Department of Education. Dr. Fox is a 25+ year educator with experience as a middle school teacher, elementary reading teacher, district-level administrator, and adjunct professor of education. Janice, and CORE teams across the eight Tennessee regions, partner with district leaders to support continuous improvement efforts that provide differentiated academic designed support to build the districts’ capacity as they implement best practices to improve educational outcomes for all students.  Janice's core belief is that all students can learn at high levels when parents, community members, and educators provide the opportunities students deserve allowing them to reach their full potential. Janice helped establish a non-profit reading foundation, the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Upper Cumberland, for the regional footprint and currently serves on the board of directors with the National Children’s Reading Foundation. As CORE Director for the Upper Cumberland region, Janice has generated a regional community focus supporting the importance of building strong readers.
8420793264?profile=RESIZE_400xDr. Bryan Johnson, a native of Nashville and a proud product of public schools, has dedicated his career to public education, serving as a teacher, school administrator, director of secondary schools, chief academic officer, and now as the Superintendent of Schools in Hamilton County Schools, Tennessee. He holds degrees from Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, and Trevecca University, where he earned his doctorate in educational leadership. During Dr. Johnson’s tenure, Hamilton County Schools have shown historic levels of improvement. In the last three years, the district moved from 130th to 2nd in the state for student academic growth, making Hamilton County Schools the fastest improving school district in Tennessee. Some of the academic improvements include increasing the number of Reward Schools (state’s highest distinction) from 5 to 32, increasing scholarship dollars earned from $20 million to more than $100 million, increases in achievement for high school assessed subjects by 7% or more and an increase of 4.5% in the number of Black, Hispanic and Native American students scoring proficient on state assessments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Johnson worked with community leaders and the school board to launch a 10-year commitment to providing high-speed internet to all 28,500 economically disadvantaged students in Hamilton County for free in an effort to close the digital divide. Dr. Johnson has received numerous accolades for his leadership, including being named 2021 Tennessee Superintendent of the Year and 2020 EdWeek Leader To Learn From. He was listed as a Superintendent to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), Outstanding Young Alumnus at Austin Peay, and Humanitarian of the Year for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Southeastern Region.


8420799482?profile=RESIZE_400xShawn Kimble, Director of Lauderdale County SchoolsAbout Lauderdale County Schools: Lauderdale County Schools is committed to a culture of high expectations for all students and staff. The district's core values guide this commitment. We Value: -The academic achievement and social development of all children. -An environment conducive to learning - clean, safe, respectful, and positive. -The involvement of parents in the education of their children. -Quality teachers and administrators who are competent, passionate, and put children first. -Accountability in all things and the use of sound, accurate data in decision-making.


8420800686?profile=RESIZE_400xSarah Vaughn, a first-grade teacher at Putnam County Schools. Sarah earned her Bachelor's Degree at Tennessee Technological University.


4995562699?profile=RESIZE_400xHoward Blumenthal created and produced the PBS television series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? He is currently a Senior Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania, studying learning and the lives of 21st-century children and teenagers. He travels the world, visiting K-12 schools, lecturing at universities, and interviewing young people for Kids on Earth, a global platform containing nearly 1,000 interview segments from Kentucky, Brazil, Sweden, India, and many other countries. Previously, he was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, and United Features. He is the author of 24 books and several hundred articles about technology, learning, business, and human progress. As an executive, Howard was the CEO of a public television operation and several television production companies, and a state government official. Previously, he was a Senior Vice President for divisions of two large media companies, Hearst and Bertelsmann, and a consultant or project lead for Energizer, General Electric, American Express, CompuServe, Warner Communications, Merriam-Webster, Atari, and other companies.


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Before the virus, more than a billion children and teenagers relied upon school for learning. After the virus (or, after the current wave of our current virus), basic assumptions about school and education are no longer reliable. School buildings may become unsafe for large numbers of students. The tax base may no longer support our current approach to school. Without the interaction provided by a formal school structure, students may follow their own curiosity. Many students now possess the technology to learn on their own. And many do not.

Reinventing.school is a new weekly web television series that considers what happens next week, next month, next school year, and the next five years. Hosted by University of Pennsylvania Senior Scholar Howard Blumenthal, Reinventing.school features interviews with teachers, principals, school district leadership, state and Federal government officials, ed-tech innovators, students, leading education professors, authors, realists and futurists from the United States and all over the world.

Each episode features 2-4 distinguished guests in conversation about high priority topics including, for example, the teaching of public health, long-term home schooling, technology access and its alternatives, the role of parents, friendship and social interaction, learning outside the curriculum, the future of testing and evaluation, interruption as part of the academic calendar, job security for teachers and support staff, setting (and rethinking) curriculum priorities, special needs, student perspectives on the job of school, the importance of play, the psychology of group dynamics and social interaction, preparing for future rounds of a virus (or cyberattack or impact of climate change, etc.), college readiness, higher education transformed, the higher education promise in an economically challenged world, and more. Clearly, there is much to discuss; nearly all of it ranks high on the list of priorities for raising the world’s children.