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Niswonger Excited About Results; Credits Teachers, School Leaders, Haslam



By John M. Jones Jr.


The announcement of Tennessee's dramatic improvement in mathematics and reading, as reflected in the 2013 report of the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), came as exciting news to Scott M. Niswonger, president and founder of the Niswonger Foundation.

The Greeneville businessman and philanthropist has been a leading advocate of adopting more rigorous standards for the state's public schools, in order to give Tennessee students an educational preparation fully competitive with the preparation given students in other states.

He also established the Niswonger Foundation in 2001 "to make a positive and sustainable difference in eduction in Northeast Tennessee."

The Greeneville-based foundation has taken a key role in facilitating the professional development of Northeast Tennessee public school teachers and administrators by sponsoring an annual "School Success Symposium" here for seven years.

The symposia, held at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center here, are designed to allow regional educators to discuss and share best practices in various areas of the teaching profession.

Almost 900 educators took part in the most recent School Success Symposium, held here in June.

Asked for comment on the NAEP results, Niswonger said this morning that "I would like to begin by expressing my appreciation to Gov. (Bill) Haslam for his commitment to raising the bar in education in Tennessee.

This is the most growth in a single NAEP testing cycle by any state in 10 years.  In a decade, no other state has achieved this level of growth from one cycle to the next - an accomplishment which I think is phenomenal.

I give credit for that success to our teachers and school leaders.  I can think of no other time that our teachers have been asked to adapt more or deliver more in their school systems.

We have seen this first-hand at the Niswonger Foundation during our professional development programs that we teach in the summer.

What we've learned from those programs is certainly showing up now, in that teachers can and will implement the rigorous standards that will position students for academic success in the future.

I would also say that, although the momentum in Tennessee is strong, the work is not finished.  Continued efforts by legislators, parents, school boards, and business and community leaders, committing time and resources, will be needed to continue this successful trend.

The Niswonger Foundation expresses great appreciation to our region's teachers and school leaders.

We will continue to focus our work on supporting their efforts, based on the belief that every student in Northeast Tennessee should be provided the opportunity to graduate from his or her high school college or career-ready."

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