By Crystal Burns
A Peabody High School teacher was honored statewide last week as a Tennessee Teacher of the Year finalist.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, the Tennessee Department of Education held a virtual awards ceremony for the nine finalists, which included Katie Bruketta, English I, ACT preparation, and AP Human Geography teacher at Peabody.
Her Peabody colleagues hosted a small reception Wednesday afternoon for Bruketta and her family.
“Katie is one of the most talented, conscientious, results-driven teachers I have seen in 37 years,” said Tim Haney, director of the Trenton Special School District. “She’s excellent at building classroom relationships and then pushing kids to achieve. She is also, and this is the highest compliment an educator can receive in my opinion, a great ‘school person.’ She helps with things outside of the school day: works gates for ball games, helps organize and run events for students, and is the sponsor of one of the best student councils in Tennessee.”
Bruketta represented the Northwest CORE area. Districts were able to nominate three educators representing each of the three grade bands. Out of over 200 applications, 27 regional semifinalists were identified, and the nine finalists were selected from a CORE region selection committee and state-level selection committee.
To qualify for Teacher of the Year, candidates must have been teaching full-time for at least three years, have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning, and be effective and community leaders.
Kami Lunsford, a teacher at Karns Middle School in the Knox County Schools district, won the award and will represent Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition and serve as an ambassador for education throughout the 2020-21 school year.
“Making the final nine was a tremendous accomplishment and a great honor for Katie, and I certainly understand the process of picking a state Teacher of the Year is a difficult one and most of it is done by reading materials that have been submitted,” Haney said. “So, I don’t wish to criticize the committee in any way. But if you actually visit her classroom and watch her teach, you will come away knowing there isn’t a better classroom teacher/school person in Tennessee.”
Bruketta began her teaching career in 2003 and joined the Peabody staff in 2004.