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TEA President Speaks to FHU Education Students

Henderson, TN - Dec 14, 2014

Tennessee Education Association President Barbara Gray, talked with Freed-Hardeman University’s graduate education students Nov. 1 in Memphis. FHU’s Education Leadership Program and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences hosted the seminar.

Gray, who assumed the presidency of TEA July 1, told the future school leaders that learning to build relationships is the key to student achievement. “Letting people know you care will move the school community from buy-in to commitment,” she said.

Gray’s topic was “Politics of Educational Reform.” She discussed state legislation, including the impact of Tennessee’s First To The Top funding. She talked about TEA activities and its legislative victories. As a result of TEA’s work, teacher licensure is no longer based on Tennessee Value-Added Assessment scores. Neither do these scores have to correlate to observation scores. “TVAAS scores cannot alter observation scores,” she said. Another “win” cited by Gray is that teachers must be given two and a half hours of planning time each week. Gray encouraged teachers “to get out and vote.” “Your livelihood depends on who is in the legislature,” she said.

Students were impressed with Gray’s presentation, calling it “a great meeting” and commenting of how much they had learned. “I learned more about TVAAS and how it is currently tied to evaluations,” one said.

Another student commented, “I learned how our jobs might be adversely affected by young appointees who know policy, but may not know education.” 

In addition to her work with the TEA, Gray is the assistant principal of Arlington Middle School in Shelby County. After earning degrees from Lemonye-Owen College and the University of Memphis, she joined the Shelby County school system in 1972. She has since held leadership positions in both educational and community organizations. As president of TEA, Gray represents approximately 46,000 Tennessee teachers.