Brawner is State Teacher of the Year Finalist

Gleason School's Sherri Brawner Named State Finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the Year
Posted on 06/17/2024
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Weakley County Schools is proud to announce that Sherri Brawner, a third-grade teacher at Gleason School, has been selected as a finalist for the 2024-25 Tennessee Teacher of the Year award. The news comes after the Tennessee Department of Education announced the nine finalists out of thousands of teachers across the state last week. 
Representing each of Tennessee’s eight Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) areas and the Shelby County Municipal area, these nine finalists were chosen from nominations submitted by school districts across the state. The 2024-25 Tennessee Teacher of the Year and three grand division winners will be selected from this group and announced during the 65th Anniversary of the Tennessee Teacher of the Year celebration this fall.
Brawner, a 30-year teacher, is known for her deep passion for education, her students, and lifelong learning. With experience teaching several elementary grades in Memphis City, Humphreys County, and Weakley County, Brawner believes that teachers are in the business of changing lives for the better and helping students thrive. Her commitment to building connections with her students and being the best teacher she can be every day is at the heart of her educational philosophy.

Sherri Brawner smiles happy in her classroom with her students surrounding her and pointing at her with smiles
Brawner is deeply honored to be selected among the many talented and incredible teachers across our district, region, and state.
“It’s a privilege to be recognized alongside such dedicated educators,” Brawner said. “I am truly grateful for this opportunity to represent my students, colleagues, and the entire community of Weakley County Schools.”
A significant area of advocacy for Brawner is the need for increased and enhanced mental health services for students. She emphasized that mental health support is a crucial component of academic success.
“Anxiety, depression, trauma, academic pressures, behavior disorders – we see all of this and more in our schools each day. As educators, we know that mental health support for students is crucial for academic success as well as healthy development and growth.”

Brawner smiles and hugs 3 students who are all smiles in front of faux brick wall in her classroom
As a finalist, Brawner will have the opportunity to serve a two-year appointment on the Tennessee Teacher Advisory Council. This council includes expert teachers who engage with the Tennessee Department of Education and other state agencies throughout the academic year, providing valuable insights and guidance on educational matters.
Brawner underscores the importance of having more mental health professionals in schools to support students.
“Teachers are often the first professionals to witness a child having a mental health episode. We are the front line, the first responders. While we create safe and welcoming environments, the variety of mental health needs of students requires the need for additional supports. Having more behavioral health specialists and school social workers in place can make a significant difference in the lives of students. This is an area of importance in education and one I plan to advocate for in my service on the State Advisory Council.”
The recognition as a finalist comes just two years after Danielle Johnson from Sharon School was selected as for the same prestigious honor, highlighting the exceptional quality of educators in Weakley County Schools.

Brawner smiles with student who is holding a white number 3
Gleason School Principal Lee Lawrence was thrilled to learn of Brawner’s achievement.
Congratulations to Mrs. Sherri on behalf of all of the students, faculty, and staff at Gleason School. Students flourish and thrive under her direction. Her daily passion, devotion, and dedication to her students and colleagues is second to none. When she encounters a challenge, she will work relentlessly to find the best avenue that will benefit both the academic readiness of her students as well as their social, emotional, and psychological well-being. She has a unique ability to make connections that inspire others to do their best each day. We are so proud of Mrs. Sherri and we’re thankful she is in Gleason and changing the lives of students each day,” Lawrence acknowledged.
Assistant Director of Schools Betsi Foster commended the selection of Brawner as a finalist, saying “Mrs. Sherri’s students enter the classroom and are immersed into the complexity and wonder of life from their neighborhoods to the wide world. She sets an example for those around her, constantly collaborating with teachers and strategizing new ideas to engage and grow her students. She accomplishes all of this through purposeful planning, high expectations for her students and a passion for teaching that is unparalleled. We are grateful for Mrs. Sherri and the positive impact she continues to make in the lives of students.”
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