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GMSD names top teachers

Jessica Minton

The Germantown Municipal School District has named its 2016-17 Teachers of the Year. They are three teachers in kindergarten through fourth grade, fifth through eighth grade and ninth through 12th grade.

Brianna Gould

Brianna Gould
Third Grade
Farmington Elementary School
Gould’s accomplishments as an educator do not end in the classroom. Long after the bell has rung, she serves as a leader. The Lead English Language Arts Teacher for Farmington Elementary School, Gould often thrives on the adoption of new ideas and pedagogies. When Expeditionary Learning was introduced, for example, she quickly jumped on it, and then turned around to share it with her FES colleagues.
“When I heard that our district was piloting two of the modules (Expeditionary Learning), I was eager to use them. During implementation, I was amazed by my students’ abilities to engage in discussions, analyze complex texts, and produce exemplary writing. Ultimately, I felt this curriculum transformed my classroom,” writes Gould.
Similarly, she also became heavily invested in learning about a new curriculum for K-2 teachers. Gould provided building level support in helping launch the use of Wit & Wisdom. To this date, our district and Gould are making an impact in classrooms across Tennessee by hosting low-performing schools as they begin Wit & Wisdom implementation through The New Teachers Program.
“GMSD is extremely fortunate to have Mrs. Gould as a teacher and leader in our district. Instead of focusing on why things might not work, Mrs. Gould seeks solutions that will have a positive impact on our students and teachers. She is the perfect example of a life-long learner, which is essential for effective teaching,” says Dianne Stovall, Instructional Coordinator for Language Arts in the elementary schools.
One of our favorite take-aways from her instructional practices:
Gould hosts “Author Celebrations” in which she invites parents of students to the school to celebrate their children’s writing.

Keri Eldridge

Keri Eldridge
Sixth Grade Science
Houston Middle School
Around nomination time, several of Eldridge’s fellow teachers submitted letters of recommendation to praise her for her important albeit quiet accolades. Described by some as a “behind-the-scenes mastermind”, Eldridge has demonstrated a wonderful humility in all that she has brought and added to Houston Middle School as an instructor.
Originally studying to be a therapist and volunteering to assist troubled children and youth, she came by teaching through the Teach for America system. Her dedication and devotion to the science of teaching became evident early on. Eldridge is data-driven according to most of her peers—with a real passion for progress monitoring and shared accountability between teacher and student. She serves as the Houston Middle School Data Lead Teacher, maintaining data for all HMS students including three-year testing history, subgroup data, and benchmark data. Eldridge also leads many professional development experiences on the topic of data-driven teaching.
“Ms. Eldridge’s exemplary use of data allows her to truly individualize for her students. She administers pre-tests at the beginning of each unit to determine if students have already mastered the standards. If so, they are allowed to develop a related project for independent study. These projects assist in developing the soft skills needed to be college and career ready: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity,” says Curriculum Coordinator Melissa Hurt.
Her students enjoy her style of teaching, as she puts some of the accountability on them, “I allow my high performers to research, outline, and study for units before I teach the content,” describes Eldridge of her “test out” exams. If a student demonstrates that they can meet all of the objectives for a unit, she allows them class time to delve deeper in self-directed projects. Media Specialist Mary Ann Cole especially enjoys the students who come to research their “test out” projects in the library, “When her kids come to the library to do their projects, I know I’m going to be entertained. These students come roaring into the library with ideas erupting like a volcano. It’s so fun to watch them attack their learning with such enthusiasm,” she writes of Eldridge.
In addition to teaching science and disaggregating data, she also sponsors the Houston Herald, a delightful and thought-provoking student run newspaper. If you haven’t checked it yet, please do.

Jessica Minton

Jessica Minton
Honors Anatomy & Physiology/Honors Biology
Houston High School
“How does she do it?” seems to be a common remark amongst the teachers at Houston High School. Jessica Minton, a recent transplant from Riverdale to Houston High, is an unstoppable juggernaut of an educator and advocate for her students. She teaches by day and is seen at most afterschool events at night. Minton can be seen at the band concert, the play, or manning the gate at the big game. Minton also keeps an impressively active Twitter account where other teachers can get a glimpse into her classroom.
Minton has also become a leader in the emerging STEM landscape in the district, attending numerous conferences, serving on the GMSD STEM Collaborative, involvement in Project Lead the Way, and assisting with STEM student competitions.
Currently a member of the State of Tennessee STEM Leadership Council, she’s been recognized as an exemplary teacher by the Germantown Education Commission, the Commercial Appeal, Biology Honors Society, Lincoln Memorial University, and Maryville College. In 2015, the state recognized her as a finalist for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Missy Abel, GMSD Curriculum Coordinator for high school teachers, shared this statement, “Jessica Minton’s classroom is the epitome of an authentic problem-based learning environment with interdisciplinary integration. Whether her students are collaborating on organism dissections, investigating case studies from St. Jude to connect content to real work scenarios, or engaging in fishbowl debates that develop design thinking, they are learning critical 21st century STEM competencies. In addition to being passionate about her content area, she is also determined to do whatever it takes to help ALL students learn.”