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Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education Celebrates Community Involvement

Five Awarded for Outstanding Work to Benefit Knoxville Community


Group of eight women holding up award plaques.

Pictured L-R: Darlene Greene, Lana Shelton-Lowe, Taiesha Young, Lynne Hodge, Zoi Traga-Philippakos, Katie Armendarez-Willocks, Danielle Estay Ray

In a recent community celebration, the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE) celebrated five recipients for their contributions to education in East Tennessee. TPTE is the largest department in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS). It prepares future educators in seven undergraduate and five graduate programs.

This year’s community celebration took place on December 16th and recognized four community partners and one TPTE team. This year’s awardees include:

Darlene Greene, Instructional Coach, Knox County Schools (Community Award Recipient)

Greene works to extend collaborations with UT Knoxville faculty and students across multiple PreK-5 schools in Knox County. Her collaborations include STEM learning events and district-level teacher professional development. Greene also serves as Co-PI on an NSF-funded project with TPTE faculty member, Francis Harper.

Lana Shelton-Lowe, Administrator, Dogwood Elementary (Community Award Recipient)

Shelton-Lowe works with cohorts of elementary students and CEHHS interns as principal of Dogwood Elementary School. She does an incredible job welcoming interns and making them feel a part of the Dogwood family. With an open-door policy, Shelton-Lowe is a proactive communicator and problem solver. She collaborates with CEHHS to support and navigate any challenges that may arise during an internship year.

Centro Hispano de East Tennessee (Outstanding Community Advocate)

In the last 15 years, Centro Hispano de East Tennessee has become a highly influential community advocate for Latino and Latina populations’ educational needs, economic health, and wellbeing. Located in Knoxville, it serves Hispanic/Latino community members to enhance their socioeconomic and sociopolitical presence in the community. Centro Hispano closely collaborates with TPTE faculty by supporting grant projects and is an indispensable partner.

Pond Gap Elementary (Outstanding Public Schools Partnership)

The University-Assisted Community Schools Staff (UACS) at Pond Gap provide needed services and programming to students in the Pond Gap community. Their work is a showcase of the University’s land-grant mission of community outreach. Through multiple partnerships, they pave the way for engaged scholarship opportunities.  The UACS staff harness the power of local partnerships to benefit the Pond Gap community and provide equitable opportunities to experience high-quality programming.

TPTE Literacy Education Team (Outstanding TPTE Community Engagement)

The Literacy Education Team makes noteworthy contributions that support the University’s community outreach mission. The Literacy Education faculty provide community outreach through a free monthly virtual literacy series, showcasing their expertise as they share instructional strategies and current research-based practices across Tennessee and beyond. Through a Tennessee Department of Education Innovation grant, they team developed literacy content, currently implemented in educator programs across Tennessee. The initiatives of the TPTE Literacy Education Team, exemplify engaged teaching and service that address the need and goals of the local community, as well as educator preparation programs across the state.

Vine Middle School Choir performs at TPTE Community Awards Celebration

A highlight of the evening included a performance by the Vine Middle School choir. Under the direction of Jason Kindell, the choir preformed several winter-themed songs and Native American pieces. A special thanks to Vine Middle principal, Desiree Jones, for having this outstanding group participate in the celebration.

Through its eight departments and 12 centers, the UT Knoxville College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences enhances the quality of life for all through research, outreach, and practice. Find out more at