Union University School of Education Graduate Serves on Governor’s Transition Committee
December 13, 2002 - Teresa Luna, a 1979 graduate of Union University, was recently named to serve on the Transition Committee for Governor-Elect Phil Bredesen. A history teacher and Academic Decathlon Coach at Jackson Central-Merry High School, her role was to provide information to the governor on the state of education. Specifically, Governor-Elect Bredesen was looking for feedback and input on two topics: nomination of the Tennessee Commissioner of Education and a prioritized list of educational items that needed to be handled in the first year of his administration.
Committee members had meetings and each member had various assignments. Luna spent two weeks talking to people at all levels of the education system in Tennessee from the state Department of Education employees, to superintendents, to principals, to teachers, etc. She asked each person three questions:
- What are the qualifications we want to see in the new commissioner?
- Who would be a good person to be appointed to this position?
- What issues do you think are most critical for the governor to handle during his first year?
“Just listening to all of those answers gave me such an ‘education’," said Luna, “ Basically, education employees are discouraged all across the state, and it is not just about the payroll. There is a drastic teacher shortage and no solution for it on the horizon. The small schools lawsuit is looming. Federal programming and the requirements all of that brings is taking its toll on our state. Bredesen is going to have his hands full.”
On December 4, 2002, the committee met with Governor-Elect Bredesen personally in Nashville. He wanted to take the opportunity to brainstorm with the members of the committee. He wanted to know the committee members’ feelings on how he should approach the education chaos. Luna felt that all members talked to him candidly and he really listened.
“I think that if I live to be 100, that will be a moment I will never forget,” Luna recalled, “Before we all left, he made a promise to us that education was going to be his number one priority. He truly wants to make it something that all Tennesseeans will be eager to invest in. I have to admit I am very hopeful and I was very impressed.”