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“Best and brightest” join forces to improve education

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Educators from all around the district are coming together to pool knowledge, techniques, and resources to improve student outcomes as a whole. This spans from Morristown to Johnson County, including Jefferson, Sevier, and Crockett Counties. The CER (Comprehensive Educational Resources) consortium is a new program just getting off the ground, according to local program overseer, Dr. Stephen Long.

“The philosophy behind it is that all of us is smarter than any of us,” said Long. “We’re taking our best and brightest from across all of those counties, and they’re submitting the materials they use when they teach their classes. They’re being housed on a website for everyone to access.”

Out of these “best and brightest”, Johnson County has twelve participating educators. Kindergarten Teacher Laura Bare, Doe Valley Elementary; First Grade Teacher Chasity Arnold, Mountain City Elementary (MCE); Third Grade Teacher Samantha Childers, MCE; Fourth Grade Teacher Amber Greever, Roan Creek Elementary (RCE), specializing in science; Fifth Grade Teacher Jordan Chambers, MCE, specializing in ELA (English and Language Arts);

Seventh Grade Teacher Jessica Radford, JCMS, specializing in ELA; Seventh Grade Teacher Julian Cruz, JCMS, specializing in Social Studies; Eighth Grade Teacher Susan Quave, JCMS, specializing in science; Ninth Grade Teacher Clarissa Schmal, JCHS, specializing in ELA; Tenth Grade Teacher Heather Taylor, JCHS, specializing in ELA; Tenth Grade Teacher Rebecca Boyd, JCHS, specializing in Geometry; Eleventh Grade Teacher Ashley Holt, JCHS, specializing in History.

These educators joined the program before the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. COVID-19 makes resources like this even more paramount because many groups lost access to in-person learning. Johnson County is one of the select few to remain in person for the majority of this school year.

“No one knew this year was going to happen when this idea was dreamed up,” Long explained. “Not only do we have 12 be a part of this, but they’ve been a part of this under some pretty undesirable circumstances. They’ve powered through it like they’ve powered through everything else, so I think they deserve a round of applause.”

The program seems to be continuously growing throughout multiple districts. The main program works with 24 districts, including Johnson County, and the Niswonger Foundation to provide equal access to knowledge for both teachers and students. As a whole, the program reaches approximately 115,000 students.

To view more details and see more information on what groups are included, visit the CER website.To find out more about Johnson County Schools, visit or view school board meetings on the Johnson County Schools TN YouTube channel.