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Renowned poet Nikki Giovanni and six other educators who have significantly influenced students’ lives will be inducted into the UT Educators Hall of Honor class of 2015 on Thursday, March 26.

The 6:00 p.m. event will be at the Crowne Plaza, 401 West Summit Drive, in downtown Knoxville. Bob Kesling, director of broadcasting for UT Athletics and the play-by-play voice of football and basketball games, will emcee the event.

Giovanni will present remarks during the ceremony.

The media is invited to attend.

The Educators Hall of Honor acknowledges the work of professionals who have established themselves in the field of education. It is open to any professional educator and members have come from throughout Tennessee and the nation. It has featured educators from elementary school to college ranks as well as coaches, organizations, and nontraditional educators who have made an impact on improving education. The hall is housed in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences’ Claxton Education Complex.

Nominations are made with a contribution of at least $1,000, which supports an endowed scholarship fund. Two scholarships will be presented this year. Ashley Redix, a doctoral student in the Higher Education Administration program, will receive the Educators Hall of Honor Scholarship. Chelsea Parker, a fifth-year student in the Teacher Preparation Program will receive the inaugural Dr. Glennon Rowell Memorial Scholarship.

The event’s presenting sponsor is Personal Computer Systems Inc.

The new group of honorees:

Nikki Giovanni: A native Knoxvillian and world-renowned poet, activist, writer, and commentator. She currently is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at Virginia Tech. She has received seven NAACP Image Awards and Governor’s Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award. Her Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, on which she reads and talks about her poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.

Dannie Parker Cannon: An educator with more than forty years of experience, much of it in the Jefferson County School System in Kentucky. After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UT, she became certified to teach students who were emotionally disturbed and neurologically impaired, and who had learning and behavioral disorders. In 2000, she was recognized as the top instructor in Jefferson County with a $10,000 award from Amgen Corporation, a California-based bio-technology company.

Dorothy Hendricks: A UT associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, based in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. For many years, she single-handedly managed the secondary UT Social Science Education program, which consistently generated strong scores on the Tennessee Higher Education Report Card. She has served in numerous positions at the university and is currently chair of the Graduate School of Education’s internship committee.

Patricia Medley: A UT graduate who taught French at several Knoxville high schools. She served on the Knoxville City School Board, and through her leadership and advocacy helped with the successful merger of the Knoxville City and Knox County school systems. She also served two terms on the Knox County Commission. She has served on numerous education committees and held community positions for organizations including the Knoxville Chamber, Leadership Knoxville, and St. Mary’s Medical Center. Her mother, Mattie Campen, was inducted in 200 as a charter member of the Educators Hall of Honor.

Richard Mitchell: A UT graduate who is the K-12 choral music supervisor for the Knox County school system. He has forty years of service as a music educator, dedicated arts administrator, and choral director. He currently is on the vocal admissions board for the UT School of Music, has assisted UT music faculty with furthering opportunities for emerging teachers, and has held important leadership positions for several regional and state choral festivals.

Jane Reynolds: A UT graduate and educator who spent the bulk of her career in the Sumner County school system. She began as an elementary classroom teacher and was promoted to systemwide reading supervisor, principal, and director of human resources for the Sumner County Board of Education. She pioneered programs such as the inclusion of computers in every classroom. As human resources director, she developed an interview screening process for principals, a model still in use today. She also advocated for increasing diversity among teachers and searched within and outside Tennessee for the most qualified minority candidates.

Donna Wright: A UT graduate who is director of Wilson County Schools. She began her career in Knox County as a middle and high school teacher, and was promoted to assistant principal and then principal. While a principal at West High School, she implemented changes to advance the school from a low-performing designation to high-performing. She later served as assistant superintendent in Knox County Schools. She has been an adjunct professor at UT, Tennessee Tech, Lincoln Memorial University, and Middle Tennessee State University.

The Educators Hall of Honor was founded in 2002 by C. Glennon Rowell, the late dean of the former College of Education, as a way to recognize deserving teachers and supplement the education of future students.

Media partners: Nikki Giovanni is available for interviews before the event. Please contact Lola Alapo for inquiries.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,