Two UC teachers named to Educator Advisory Council to help combat student learning loss

Melody Sadler (left), Overton County first grade teacher, and Melisha Simmons (right), Warren County first grade teacher, have been named to the Governor's Early Literacy Foundation's inaugural Educator Advisory Council. (Photos: Facebook)

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation selects 21 educators across Tennessee to serve as a consulting body to help determine the best resources to combat learning loss in students 

NASHVILLE — Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) announces its inaugural Educator Advisory Council to serve as a consulting body to help determine the best resources to best meet the needs of students across Tennessee.  

Twenty-one Tennessee educators, including two Upper Cumberland teachers, were selected from 115 applicants to serve on the Educator Advisory Council, representing 20 school districts in all three regions of the state. With less than one third of Tennessee third graders able to read proficiently, GELF aims to utilize the Council’s combined 290 years of experience to meet students and families where they are with the tools they need to strengthen early literacy and combat learning loss. 

“Educators play the biggest part of our future generation’s story,” said James Pond, president of GELF. 

“Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation is honored to recognize their role, learn from their experience, and hear from their perspective to gain a better understanding of what our students need to become successful readers and future leaders. Together, we will work together to combat learning loss and strengthen early literacy.”  

The primary responsibility of the Educator Advisory Council will be to select the books that students and teachers from across the state will be mailed through GELF’s K-3 Book Delivery program in Summer 2022. Through its K-3 Book Delivery program, GELF collaborates with Scholastic to mail high-quality, age-appropriate books to kindergarten through third grade students and teachers over the summer to combat learning loss and support learning in the home. In Summer 2021, GELF mailed books to 90,000 students and teachers across Tennessee, at no cost to families or school districts. 

Less than one third of Tennessee third graders read proficiently. Research shows that two to three months of reading proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer, and Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) 2021 scores show that disruptions to education during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a five-percentage point decline in third grade reading proficiency. Research shows that placing books and resources directly into the homes of families helps combat learning loss. 

The 2021-2022 Educator Advisory Council represents 15 K-3 teachers, one library media specialist, and five school district leaders.  

“I am joining the Educator Advisory Council because I see the learning loss this program is combating firsthand and want to share my deep love of reading, not only in my classroom, but with all students  

across Tennessee,” said Tara Comerford, Educator Advisory Council member and 3rd Grade Teacher at Athens City Schools. 

“I am excited to share the joy of literacy with thousands of young Tennesseans,” said Chris Dickerson, Educator Advisory Council member and Kindergarten teacher at Metro-Nashville Public Schools. 

“Developing early literacy skills sets learners on a trajectory that will dictate the rest of their lives and I believe that the work of the Council helps lay this necessary foundation.”  

See below for a full list of the selected 2021-2022 GELF Educator Advisory Council members. 

Melody Sadler, First Grade Teacher, Overton County 

Melisha Simmons, First Grade Teacher, Warren County 

Stefanie Bishop, Second Grade Teacher, Hardin County 

De’Shadrian Campbell, Kindergarten Teacher, Hardeman County 

Tammy Clark, First Grade Teacher, Knox County 

Tara Comerford, Third Grade Teacher, Athens City 

Tony Dalton, PreK-1st Instructional Coach, Hamblen County 

Lauren Dean, First Grade Teacher, Robertson County 

Chris Dickerson, Kindergarten Teacher, Metro Nashville Public Schools 

Lauren Effler, PreK-12 Curriculum & Instruction Supervisor, Union County 

Lorena Georger, Second Grade Teacher, Newport City School 

Xavier Hamler, Elementary Education Supervisor, Bedford County 

Taylor Harvey, Librarian, Hamilton County 

Molly Jones, First Grade Teacher, Sullivan County 

Angie Manor, District Literacy Coordinator, Hickman County 

Meredith McMackins, Second Grade Teacher, Dyer County 

Shirley McMorris, Early Literacy Advisor, Shelby County 

Sarah Stephenson, Kindergarten Teacher, Cheatham County 

Alexis Wade, First Grade Teacher, Shelby County 

Alexandra Whited, Third Grade Teacher, Hawkins County 

Christie Wimberley, Second Grade Teacher, Henry County 

For more information on GELF and the Educator Advisory Council, visit


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