Carlton Adkins, an arts teacher at LEAD Cameron Middle School, was recently named the 2024 Middle School Art Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Art Education Association (TAEA). The statewide award recognizes outstanding teachers who exemplify what it means to be a great arts educator, going above and beyond for their students.
“Carlton brings an energy and passion about videography, photography, and media production that is contagious for his students,” said Briana Shelton, principal at LEAD Cameron. “He maintains an excellent balance of teaching the technical skills of the art while using it as an opportunity to teach valuable life lessons that will set our students up for success in middle school, high school and beyond.”
A South Nashville native, Carlton attended Tennessee State University to study economics and finance. “It wasn’t until I decided to be a filmmaker did art come back around to me,” he said. Carlton went on to attend Watkins College of Art, Design and Film where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing and producing.
After years working in the film and TV production field, he realized his passion for teaching and returned to Tennessee State University for a master’s degree in education.
“Teaching has been something I wanted to do since I was young,” he said. “My grandmother, whom I never met, was a teacher.”
Carlton now teaches visual arts, photography, and video production at LEAD Cameron.
“I love the possibilities of what could be,” said Carlton. “Students process information so differently and as a middle school teacher you don’t always know if what you taught or said got through. The beauty lies in the senior coming back to tell you that they heard you and now they understand what you were saying. That’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
Carlton is known throughout the network for teaching not only art but life lessons as well. His advice for his students? “I tell my students I want for them to be the best person they can be, whatever that may look like for them,” Carlton said.
Adkins will attend the TAEA fall conference in late October in Knoxville to formally receive the award. For more information about the Tennessee Art Education Association awards, click here.