PGMS Teacher Named Finalist for TN Teacher of the Year

head shot of Mrs. Boyd with brick wall background
Susannah Gentry

The Tennessee Department of Education announced the nine statewide finalists for the 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year award. Poplar Grove Middle School Spanish teacher Laura Boyd is one of three finalists for the Middle School Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award!

On June 3, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the nine statewide finalists for the 2021-22 Tennessee Teacher of the Year award. We are excited to report that Poplar Grove Middle School Spanish teacher Laura Boyd is one of the three finalists for the middle school Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award!

The nine finalists represent each of the eight Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) areas in the state as well as the Shelby County-Municipals area, with three finalists in each Grand Division: West, Middle, and East. Nominations of up to three educators representing each of the three grade bands were accepted from the state’s school districts. Out of more than 237 applications, 27 regional semifinalists were identified by CORE region selection committees, and the nine finalists were then selected by a state-level selection committee.

“Through perseverance, determination, and a commitment to providing all our students with a high-quality education, our Tennessee educators have gone above and beyond the call of the duty this past school year,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am thrilled to honor these nine teachers for their incredible work leading up to this moment and especially throughout the past several months. Our state is home to dedicated teachers who embody the Volunteer spirit and give their all for our students each and every day.”

Laura Boyd has nine years of teaching experience, with the past seven spent at Poplar Grove Middle. Mrs. Boyd believes that relationships are the foundation of all student success. For the past seven years, all of her graduating eighth graders have gone on to successfully earn high school credit and enrolled in Spanish II as freshmen.

Her class is engaging, interactive and data driven. Her expertise enables her students to use technology to build and showcase their knowledge. Mrs. Boyd is able to “gamify” the curriculum to provide high levels of student engagement as they move through challenging curriculum. Collaboration and fun are encouraged.

She has a special passion for connecting students to their future by focusing them on college and career readiness. She invites local business and community leaders in to speak to her students and holds a College and Career themed day for students to learn more about specific colleges of interest. Her eighth-grade students are part of a High School Signing Day, where all students are celebrated individually as they announce their future high school plans.

Mrs. Boyd is a natural leader both in and out of school, providing technology related professional learning sessions for her colleagues at the local, state and national level. She is the Grant Team Representative, United Way Campaign Manager, and Building Level Technology Leader. She also assists her school leaders with social media and serves as the Related Arts Team Leader.

"We are already aware of the exceptional experiences that Mrs. Boyd provides her students," said FSSD Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden. "We are excited to have her work rewarded with this statewide recognition."

“Laura Avery Boyd exemplifies how teachers have the ability to transform the lives of young people, inspire a joy of learning, and empower students to reach their full potential,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. “I had the privilege of visiting her classroom via Zoom last fall and know she is very deserving of this award. It is an honor to recognize her as a finalist for the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award.”

Grand Division winners and, ultimately, the Tennessee Teacher of the Year will be selected from this group of finalists and announced during an honorary celebration this fall following a panel interview with each finalist.

The final winner will represent Tennessee in the National Teacher of the Year competition and serve as an ambassador for education in the state throughout the 2021-22 school year. 

Finalists will also have the opportunity to serve on Commissioner Schwinn’s Teacher Advisory Council for the duration of the 2021-22 school year. The council is composed of expert teachers who provide feedback and inform the work of the department throughout the academic year.