Tennessee woman named national teacher of the year


A 30-year teaching veteran from Rogersville, Tennessee, has been named the 2024 National Teacher of the Year.

Missy Testerman is the English as a Second Language (ESL) program director and teacher at Rogersville City Schools. She was selected from a group of 55 State Teachers of the Year from across the country and U.S. territories.

“Testerman builds bridges between cultures—families that have lived in the area for centuries and more recent immigrants—through a curriculum that focuses on the study of Americans from diverse backgrounds, allowing students to better understand that people are by nature from the same and that they all belong.” says a press release from the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Testerman said she knew she wanted to be a teacher when she first walked into her kindergarten classroom.

“I was very scared,” Testerman recalled, but said her teacher, Mrs. Brown, took her by the hand and led her to her other classmates and the toys.

“From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be like Mrs. Brown,” she told CBS Mornings.

According to her supporters in Rogersville, Testerman succeeded in that goal.

Courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Education

Stephanie Smith knew Testerman as a student and now as a colleague and fellow teacher. Smith said Testerman was a great person who made the children feel welcome while holding them to extremely high standards.

“She makes everyone feel important,” Smith said. “She is the best.”

Testerman said what she enjoys most about teaching is “being the person who can inspire a love of learning in our students.”

As National Teacher of the Year, Testerman will use her year of service to advocate for students And for teachers.

Courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Education

“I want to give teachers the opportunity to use their voice,” Testerman told CBS. “They are the experts in our classroom, they know what our students need, they understand our challenges.”

Testerman said teacher pay is one of her biggest concerns in her profession and she claims reports of a “teacher shortage” are false.

“We have a lot of trained teachers out there,” she said, many of them “very effective educators” who were forced to leave their profession to make more money for their families.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who is also a teacher, surprised Testerman on the set of CBS Mornings to congratulate her on her win.

“I always say that teachers are our heroes, and I wanted to be here today to celebrate Missy because I love celebrating teachers,” Biden said.

Biden also announced the first Teacher of the Year “state dinner” at the White House on May 1 to honor Testerman and other teachers.