While most of the logistical challenges and health concerns related to COVID-19 may have abated as Tennessee’s students and teachers move into the 2021-2022 school year, state leaders started long ago preparing for the next phase of recovery: minimizing the academic fallout from the pandemic.
Trevecca graduate Dr. Joey Vaughn plays a big role in those efforts. The Manchester City Schools director last year was appointed by Gov. Bill Lee to the Education Recovery and Innovation Commission. Formed by the Tennessee General Assembly, that body’s purpose is to look at the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 on K-12 and higher education in Tennessee.
Vaughn, the only public K-12 educator serving on the commission, says the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s schools has been substantial. From decreasing enrollment numbers at the collegiate level to concerns about social and emotional well-being at lower levels, the effects on students have been impactful across the state.
Vaughn’s mission in this special role is to make sure every child in Tennessee still has the chance to excel.
“It’s an incredible honor to be part of this group and have the opportunity to represent K-12 education in our state,” said Vaughn. “My goal is to make sure opportunities exist for kids to have equal opportunities in the realm of education, so every kid in Tennessee has the opportunity to thrive.”
Vaughn, a 2014 graduate of TNU’s Doctor of Education in leadership program, has dedicated his entire career to education. He knew from a young age that he would spend his life as an educator.
“Growing up, there was never a question that I would be a teacher,” said Vaughn. “My life was shaped around school and I knew from kindergarten that I would spend my life in school in some way.”
He attended elementary, middle and high school in the Manchester school system, and has served there as a teacher, coach, principal and now the top administrator. Equipped with a love of learning, Vaughn still takes his passion for knowledge into the classroom each day, working to bring the best opportunities available to his students, their families and the faculty that work alongside him.
“I had a lot of people invest in me as a student and teacher, so I strive every day to do the same for my students,” said Vaughn. “I learned early in my career that parents want what’s best for their children, so it’s my duty to give every child the best opportunity available. I love to go to school and do that every day.”
As part of the special commission, he’s now using that passion to bring positive change to students not just in his district, but across the state.
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