MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A Memphis-Shelby County Schools elementary school teacher has received two of Tennessee’s top teaching honors, the district announced last week.

Dr. Melissa Collins (Courtesy: Memphis-Shelby County Schools)

Dr. Melissa Collins, who teaches second grade at John P. Freeman Optional School, was named the 2022-23 Tennesee Teacher of the Year and Tennessee’s 2022 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year.

The Teacher of the Year award was presented to Collins on August 25 during the state’s Excellence in Education celebration in Nashville.

The next day, Collins was announced as the winner of the Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year award presented by the Glider Lehrman Institute of American History, which is an organization that promotes and enriches K-12 American history education.

Eighteen educators have been named Tennessee’s History Teacher of the Year. However, only three Memphians, including Collins, have won the award. Mark Scott of East High School received the award in 2010, and Whitney Kennon of Magonlin Hebrew Academy Feinstone Yeshiva of the South was honored in 2016.

Collins also joins six Memphis-area educators who have received Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year over the years, including James Muskelly in 1964, Eleanore M. Zurbruegg in 1983, Frank Blustein in 1994, Cathy A. Pihl in 1997, Allyson Chick in 2013, and Karen Vogelsang in 2015.

Receiving both honors makes her a finalist for the 2022 National History Teacher of the Year award and one of 53 finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award.

Receiving both honors makes her a finalist for the 2022 National History Teacher of the Year award and one of 53 finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award.

Since 2004, National History Teacher of the Year has been awarded to 18 educators, according to the history organization’s website. The winner of the award will be announced in October 2022.

Deputy Superintendents Dr. Angela Whitelaw and Dr. John Barker praised Dr. Collins’ creativity and dedication to her students.

“Dr. Collins is an awesome educator whose thoughtfulness, creativity, and passion for education have propelled her to the top of her field,” Whitelaw said. “Great teachers like Collins are one of the reasons that Memphis-Shelby County Schools is trending up!”

“We have so many employees in Memphis-Shelby County Schools who are shining stars, and Dr. Collins is without a doubt one of those bright stars,” Barker said. “We are all so proud to have her working with our students.”