The finalists are elementary, middle and high school educators from each grand division of the state, according to the Tennessee Department of Education. Grand Division winners and the Teacher of the Year will be chosen from this group this fall.
Locally, teachers were nominated from 14 county schools. Each received a certificate and a memento acknowledging their accomplishment and were recognized by the Bedford County Board of Education at a reception.
Pitner is a looping second and third grade teacher at Learning Way Elementary. A looping classroom spends two years with the same teacher.
She has spent 30 years in the county school system, 23 in the classroom and seven in a supervisory capacity as supervisor of curriculum for county schools. Since 1981, she has taught each elementary grade and has been part of the faculty of Southside, Thomas, Eakin and Learning Way elementary schools.
She has attended both the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Middle Tennessee State University, earning a Master of Education in 1983 and Specialist in Education in 2005.
This is Pitner's third school-level teacher of the year award.
"I'm honored to have been chosen teacher of the year because I am surrounded by so many dedicated educators every day that could just have easily been chosen," said Pitner.
"My grandmother taught in a one-room school many, many years ago and I always wanted to follow in her footsteps. She would have been tickled to know that I was selected."
"We can't celebrate the hard work and dedication of our teachers enough, so it's a pleasure to recognize these nine educators today," said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. "Teachers are an incredibly important factor in the education of our students, and we thank our finalists, as well as the teachers across the state, for all that they do."
The nine finalists for 2012-13 Teacher of the Year are:
West Tennessee: PK-4: Allyson Chick, Richland Elementary; 5-8: Lisa Roten, Ramer Elementary, 9-12: Melinda Keller, Germantown High.
Middle Tennessee: PK-4: Pitner; 5-8: Stacey Burt, Discovery School at Reeves Rogers and Elaine Huffines, Forrest High.
East Tennessee: PK-4: Nancy Miles, Woodland Elementary; 5-8: Joan Roueché, Hunter Middle; 9-12: Renda Crowe, William Blount High.
The final winner will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition and is an ambassador for education throughout the year.
To qualify, candidates must have been teaching full-time for at least five years, have a proven record of using creative, research-based teaching strategies resulting in measurable achievement and be effective school and community leaders. A panel of professional educators from across the state scored applications to identify these finalists.
The Teacher of the Year program is sponsored in partnership with the Niswonger Foundation. The foundation provides a monetary award to encourage professional development, graduate study, higher student outcomes and mentoring. As a show of appreciation and encouragement for teacher excellence, the foundation sponsors a banquet each fall for finalists.