Congratulations to Paige Pennigar of LEAD Southeast High, Lindsay Roe of LEAD Cameron, and Elizabeth Phelps, of LEAD Cameron (pictured above, left to right) for earning Blue Ribbon Teacher Awards for Teacher Leadership, announced today by Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in partnership with the Nashville Public Education Foundation and the Nashville Agenda Steering Committee.
The Blue Ribbon Teacher awards program, in its sixth year, recognizes teachers who exhibit instructional excellence, promote student growth and exemplify teacher leadership. LEAD has had 14 Blue Ribbon teachers since the program began. For more information about the award program, visit this link.
A founding English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at LEAD Southeast High School, Ms. Pennigar is a two-time winner, also earning the prestigious award in 2019. This is a first-time award for Ms. Roe, an English Language Learners (ELL) teacher who developed and leads Cameron’s school’s Newcomer Academy program for students new to America. It’s also the first time for Ms. Phelps, a social studies teacher who was instrumental in creating a writing program with the University School of Nashville.
“Wrapping up my 7th year in the classroom, this award reminds me that the most deeply personal things in life are the most worthwhile,” said Paige, who graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in communications studies. “I am so grateful, honored, and humbled to be recognized for the role I play as a teacher-leader in the larger Nashville educational community.”
“What makes the Blue Ribbon award so meaningful is that applications are reviewed by community partners,” said Lindsay, who holds a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree from Mount Saint Mary College. “Receiving this award suggests to me that the larger community can see how Cameron has created its own community among students, families, teachers, and support staff that celebrates and supports one another and contributes to a stronger Nashville as a whole. I am so honored to be recognized.”
“Being named a Blue Ribbon Teacher solidifies that feeling of accomplishment: the hours before, during, and after school where I push my students and myself to grow and thrive are paying off in dividends which are being acknowledged by our community,” said Elizabeth, who holds master’s and bachelor degrees from Tennessee Tech. “The students we serve often feel ignored or invisible by the greater community. I want them to know that this award is not for me; it is for them.”
Their principals at both LEAD Southeast and LEAD Cameron lauded their leadership.
“Elizabeth and Lindsay not only help make school a safe and positive experience for students, but they are also models of how hard work propelled by love and a passion for education can have a huge impact,” said LEAD Cameron Principal Kate Ring. “Lindsay is our number one advocate for Newcomer and ELL students and families. She coordinates wrap around services, writes rigorous curriculum that helps them access grade level content while working on language skills, and encourages the celebration of different cultures while recognizing shared experiences.
“Elizabeth develops spaces where students can explore and express themselves,” she continued. “From founding Crewcial, to supporting and building our creative writing partnership with USN, to galvanizing the 6th grade team, to bringing history alive in her social studies classes, Elizabeth not only makes learning joyful but encourages students to learn about and build confidence in themselves through the process. We are lucky to have them! They are both phenomenal educators, advocates, mentors, and teammates.”
“Paige Pennigar is a rock star teacher,” said LSE High Principal Amy Kate Wilkins. “She brings her to work each day and has had a direct impact on the strong culture built at LEAD Southeast. As a founding member of LEAD Southeast, many elements of our culture can be contributed to her suggestions and feedback. She is relentless in her pursuit of making the best possible school environment for our students, families and community.
“We are so fortunate to have Paige on our staff and serving as a model of the ETHOS for our students on a daily basis,” she said.
All three Blue Ribbon Teachers said LEAD’s commitment to students and families drives them both inside and outside of the classroom.
“LEAD provides teachers with unique opportunities to have their voices heard, which can be quite hard to find in our current educational climate,” Paige said. “Teaching at LEAD feels innovative, with a consistent focus on doing right by kids. Honesty and transparency are rooted deeply in the fabric of LEAD Public Schools and those two values trickle down to have a major positive effect on the teacher experience.
“I’m really grateful to work at LEAD Cameron because my voice is appreciated and my advocacy (and the advocacy of my colleagues) results in meaningful change that improves the experiences of teachers and students at my school,” Lindsay said. “I believe truly amazing work can happen in education when teachers listen to their students, leadership listens to its teachers, and schools listen to their families.”
“My love for LEAD is difficult to quantify in words,” said Elizabeth. “Never in my life have I been surrounded by such a supportive community of professionals who truly view one another as ‘team and family.’ From day one, I have been pushed, supported, and congratulated through every step of my professional growth within this organization. Our students matter to us and they feel that we are here to support their educational journey every step of the way from 5th grade through graduation and beyond. Our mission is to get every student ‘Ready for College and Ready for Life,’ and I am honored to be a part of that mission.”