(T-G photo by Jim Davis) [Order this photo]
In June, Pitner, three-time Bedford County Teacher of the Year, became one of nine statewide finalists.
Her grandmother taught in a one-room school many years ago, and she grew up wanting to follow in those footsteps. Her sister, Peggy Stubblefield, proved to be an always-willing student and was there to see all those playtime moments come full circle.
A Bedford County native, Pitner says she feels privileged to have been educated in the system where she now teaches,
"I was only taught by the best teachers. The things I have taken from those teachers, my students and those I have taught alongside through the years have all helped make me a better teacher."
She credits not only the support of her family, her husband Allen and children Mike and Martha, as being key in earning the award, but that of principal Karen Scoggins as well,
"I am fortunate to have a very supportive principal who always keeps the students' and teachers' interests at heart," Pitner said.
"I was so honored to accompany Mrs. Pitner to the awards dinner tonight, and I was not surprised to hear her name called as the Middle Tennessee Grand Division winner," Scoggins said. "She is the teacher every principal wants in their building. Her enthusiasm with her students is contagious and her talents never-ending."
Pitner is a looping second and third grade teacher at Learning Way Elementary. A looping classroom spends two years with the same teacher.
Allyson Chick, who teaches second grade at Richland Elementary School, was the West grand division and overall Teacher of the Year winner. She's also a self-professed follower and fan of Pitner's Potpourri, a well-known blog of teaching resources which Pitner produces.
Renda Crowe, theater teacher at William Blount High School in Blount County, was recognized as Teacher of the Year for the East Grand Division.
Pitner has spent 30 years in the county school system, 23 in the classroom and seven as supervisor of curriculum for county schools. Since 1981, she has taught each elementary grade and has been part of the faculties 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.
"The Teacher of the Year awards not only allow us to recognize some of the best teachers in the state, but also provide an opportunity to share and learn from their inspired, effective methods of instruction," said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.
Tennessee's Teacher of the Year awards and banquet are sponsored by the Niswonger Foundation, a Greeneville-based organization that provides cash prizes for each of the nine regional finalists.
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 the winners.