PULASKI, Tenn. – Martin Methodist College (MMC) congratulates education graduates Candace Garland ‘17, Leah Guerrero ‘14, Kameron Allred ‘13, Ashley Simmons ‘11, and Shannon Bratton ‘99, all named “Teacher of the Year” in their respective schools.
MMC alumna Garland graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She currently works at Southside Elementary School in Pulaski, Tenn., teaching fourth grade students as an English language arts (ELA) teacher. Now in her fourth year with Southside Elementary, she has been named as this year’s building level teacher of the year for the pre-kindergarten – fourth-grade level band and as the district teacher of the year for pre-kindergarten – fourth-grade level band.
“MMC provided me with the necessary tools to become a successful educator,” said Garland. “The knowledge I gained from the education professors was key to helping me develop my personal teaching methods and class room management techniques. I can’t thank MMC enough for giving me the tools and opportunities needed to succeed in my teaching career.”
Guerrero graduated from MMC in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with Licensure in English with the certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, an interest that evolved while playing soccer with many of MMC’s international students. In 2015, she began teaching English language learners at McDowell Elementary School in Columbia, Tenn., where she has worked for the last six years. With fifty English language learners currently studying at McDowell, Guerrero plans to accompany her students to their new school beginning next year.
“The MMC Education Program taught me the most important skills of teaching: solving problems, showing empathy, and celebrating differences,” said Guerrero. “I also learned the necessity and power of cultivating relationships. At MMC, I developed a commitment to lifelong learning and service in my community.”
Allred, a 2013 MMC graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, currently works at J.E. Woodard Elementary School in Columbia, Tenn., where she has been teaching for seven years. Starting as a third-grade teacher for her first three years, Allred was presented with an opportunity to move to kindergarten, which she happily accepted. This year, Allred has become a member of J.E. Woodard’s leadership team and has been named as lead kindergarten teacher.
“Dr. Grace Meier and Dr. Tina Smith both were wonderful mentors during my time at MMC,” said Allred. “I was certainly prepared to start my career. Now, whenever I am asked why I teach, the answer is simple: my students and my co-workers are my family! To see a child’s love for learning and knowing that I have played an important role in their lives is truly rewarding.”
Simmons earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from MMC in 2011. Along with currently teaching third grade at Buchanan Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., she’s also ELA curriculum lead for grades three-five, third grade ELA lead, and a hybrid teacher, serving as the only virtual teacher for the third grade.
“I first attended MMC on a basketball scholarship with no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” said Simmons. “After changing my major three times, I finally discovered my love for teaching. I was privileged to learn in a small, personal environment, where my professors taught me to not only know my content, but know my children and form relationships with them as well. From that, I’ve found a great deal of success in a career that I enjoy.”
Having graduated from MMC in 1999 with her Bachelor of Arts in Childhood Learning, Bratton has been teaching for Pulaski Elementary School in Pulaski, Tenn. since 1999, working in special education, kindergarten, and now first grade.
“Looking back, I feel that MMC really helped prepare me for my teaching career,” said Bratton. “My professors were willing to take time to ensure I knew how to use strategies and incorporate what I had learned from the college classroom into my own classroom. Over the years, I have been able to build trusting relationships with the faculty, all who allowed me to be more confident in asking questions and growing as a professional.”
“These students are great examples of the values stressed in the education program at MMC,” said MMC Division Chair of Education Dr. Grace Meier. “The education department is very proud of MMC graduates; they are excellent representatives for the college and the teaching profession.”
Dr. Judy Cheatham, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, said, “Martin Methodist College has been providing teachers to this area of the state and beyond for 151 years. Right this minute in this part of Tennessee, counties are desperate to hire good teachers, and our graduates are in high demand. It gives me such pride that over the last several years, 100% of our graduates with Tennessee licensure are employed and that over 80 % of our teacher education graduates choose to stay and teach close to home, in more rural counties, helping fill critical spaces in elementary education, STEM fields, English and Social Studies, physical education and business. Five Teachers of the Year! What an embarrassment of riches!”
Martin Methodist College, founded in 1870, is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Martin Methodist offers baccalaureate degrees in 39 programs of study that include English, religious studies, music and dramatic arts, mathematics and natural sciences to business, social sciences, education, criminal justice, and nursing. Still changing lives after 150 years.