Jeremy Simerly is a special education and RTI teacher at Greeneville Middle School. He recently received tenure under a new state-mandated system.

Jeremy Simerly and Andrea Tolley

Q:  How many schools have you taught at?

A: I have taught at three schools: Dobyns Bennett High School, West Side Elementary, and Greeneville Middle School. Throughout my 11 years, I have taught several subject areas and held many roles in education.

Q:  What does tenure mean to you? How does it benefit you?

A: Tenure means a level of stability and a sense of accomplishment.

Q:  What did you know about tenure before you started teaching? Was it discussed thoroughly in college?

A: The things I witnessed about tenure and what I believe to be true about tenure are two separate things.  I remember witnessing as a student the teacher who was under the old system; felt that they had “job security” and became extremely complacent in their performance as a teacher.  This type of teacher made no effort to improve, nor were they worried about testing scores.  Throughout college, I can’t recall tenure being mentioned in depth very many times.      

Q:  Do you think you will remain in the Greeneville City School System? Why?

A: I want nothing more but to remain with the Greeneville City School system in any role that is seen fit in order to benefit students. 

Q:  What would be an incentive to move? (i.e. better pay, closer to home, higher test scores, etc.)

A: I have had the incentives listed above; (better pay – Dobyns Bennett High school), (Closer to home – West Side Elementary).  None of the incentives compare to what I truly have now at Greeneville Middle School, which is a sense of family and the system’s push to always be the best.  I have also had the incentives to return to former school systems; I am uninterested due to the level of satisfaction I currently have at my school.

Q:  Are you concerned about the fact that tenure is no longer a guarantee of your position?

A: I am not concerned about the fact that tenure is no longer guaranteed.  I am of the opinion that I should work hard each and every year; gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to be the best teacher for my students. 

Q:  Why do you think the tenure system was changed to include student performance?

A: I believe that student performance was added as the state’s level of reaching the top increased.  I think there is a sense of purpose and urgency by the state to increase student scores to compete nationally with other states. 

Q:  Are you in a tested subject area? If not, what criteria did you use to achieve the fourth and fifth level?

A: By teaching Response to Intervention, I am not in a tested subject area.  However, by teaching Special Education, I am required to take a percentage of the student scores in which I currently serve. 

Q:  Do you value tenure more now that the system has changed?

A: I wouldn’t say that I value tenure more now under the new system opposed to the older system.  I have the mindset to do the best I can each and every day for students; creating relationships, helping them grow academically, and showing them that I care.  By doing this, I believe that everything will work itself out the way it should. 

Q:  Do you think the new tenure system is fair? Why or why not?

A: I don’t necessarily feel that the new tenure system is fair.  I feel that with the lack of testing scores from the state, good teachers have not been able to receive tenure.  I also feel that while the new tenure system means teachers can lose this accolade, nothing is placed upon the old tenure system teachers.  All too often, some of these teachers have got to a level of being complacent, which has hurt education and our school systems.