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TCS Named 2024 Best Communities for Music Education Award Winner

Music Education

Tullahoma City Schools

TCS Named Advancing School District

Samantha Zimmerman Named TCS Volunteer of the Year

Volunteers of the Year 

Challenging Students Today for a Limitless Tomorrow

Tullahoma City Schools (TCS) exists to provide an educational foundation for students to live with integrity and a life-long passion for learning by providing challenging and innovative experiences that support their academic, social, and emotional development. 

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TCS Named 2024 Best Communities for Music Education Award Winner

For the third consecutive year, Tullahoma City Schools received the Best Communities for Music Education Award from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. 

This is the fourth time the district has been the recipient of this honor. Tullahoma City Schools is one of 12 districts across the state and one of 975 school districts nationwide to receive this distinction. 

“It says so many wonderful things about not just TCS, but Tullahoma as a whole, that we have received this designation now for the third year in a row,” said TCS Fine Arts Coordinator Atticus Hensley. “This community's love of the arts in general is exceptional, and the support for music education in particular is, obviously, outstanding.” 

Now in its 25th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, TCS answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified by school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school but also to attend college as well. In addition, everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

“I am so proud as this award further highlights and recognizes our excellent fine arts programs in Tullahoma City Schools,” said TCS Director of Schools Dr. Catherine Stephens. “Our music programs are widely recognized throughout the state, and now, for the third straight year, at the national level. This award showcases our outstanding team of music teachers who lead, teach and train our incredibly talented students. Additionally, this honor highlights our school board, which supports and encourages music education and experiences for students. Lastly, this accolade is a reflection on the Tullahoma community as a whole, including our stakeholders – parents, teachers, students, administrators and community leaders – who emphasize the importance of music and including it in part of a well-rounded education.”

Tullahoma City Schools

Districts across the state of Tennessee can earn one of the following designations: exemplary, advancing, satisfactory, marginal, or needing improvement. Tullahoma City Schools is proud to be named an advancing school district. Additionally, West Middle School was named a Reward School by the Tennessee Department of Education. 

“I am thrilled to say that TCS is an advancing school district and excited about West Middle School earning Reward status,” said TCS Director of Schools, Dr. Catherine Stephens. “This district designation and achievement doesn’t happen without our students first and our teachers, who are the real difference-makers for all TCS students. We have first-rate educators in our district who work tirelessly to lead, guide, teach, challenge, and support students; they are the ones who influence and enrich the lives of our students every single day.”

Under Tennessee’s accountability system, districts are expected to increase student achievement levels and demonstrate student growth across all student groups. Districts are assessed on performance across six critical performance indicators measured through multiple pathways. The indicators include grade band (3-5, 6-8 and 9-12) success rates, chronic absenteeism of students, performance by EL students on the English Language Proficiency Assessment, and graduation rate. District accountability scores are calculated using a weighted average of the district’s scores across all indicators and student groups to determine the district’s final designation. 

“The 2023 TCS recognition as advancing by the Tennessee Department of Education further validates the incredible hard work happening across the entire school system,” said TCS Board Chairman Kim Uselton. “The TCS Board of Education is proud of our students, support staff, teachers, and administrators today and every day.” 

Tullahoma City Schools offers a wide range of educational opportunities for our students at all levels, as the district wants to ensure students are critical thinkers and problem solvers who are successful in life. TCS offers essential and valuable experiences that positively impact our students’ lives. 

The district’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program allows students to explore career options and learn valuable skills needed to thrive in their community and chosen field. TCS fine arts programs are renowned throughout the state and nation, and Tullahoma City Schools has consistently received awards and accolades for successful fine arts programs and initiatives. Additionally, TCS athletic programs are top-notch, with multiple teams and individuals winning state accolades year after year.

Whether through academics, arts, athletics, or an array of options the district offers, TCS wants the best for students. The district is thankful for the partnership of parents and the community in this important educational journey. The Tullahoma community is invested in our schools in so many ways, including, but not limited to, CEO partnerships, Tullahoma Educational Foundation for Excellence, volunteer hours, attending events and supporting an array of programs, performances, and competitions, or even speaking highly of the school district, so individuals hear about the fantastic things happening on TCS campuses.

“We have so many things to be proud of, and there’s no way for me to name them all,” Dr. Stephens said. “We are certainly proud to be named an advancing district, a level 5 district, with the highest level of growth in our test scores. But what are we most proud of? That’s easy. We are most proud of our students and their commitment to learning and growing; our teachers and their tireless efforts and dedication to a career where lives are changed daily; our staff who puts students first, and our families who encourage, support, and value all that is a part of the TCS experience.”

Click here to read more about district designations and see the complete list of school districts across Tennessee.

Samantha Zimmerman Named TCS Volunteer of the Year

TCS volunteers generously donate their time, talents, and creativity to support teachers, staff, and students on a routine basis. This TCS annual recognition of volunteers is connected to an award program conducted by the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA). The State of Tennessee is divided into nine districts, and school systems in each district may nominate one Volunteer of the Year to be considered for the annual regional awards by the TSBA. A panel of judges with the TSBA will then select one Volunteer of the Year from each of the nine districts. Each of these TCS volunteers exhibits qualities of outstanding contributions to their schools and the district through their exemplary leadership and service. TCS is thankful for each volunteer and their contributions, which cultivate a culture that focuses on students first and, yet, supports and encourages all teachers and staff, too.

Bel-Aire Elementary School’s Samantha Zimmerman has been named the TCS Volunteer of the Year and will move forward in the TSBA Competition to the regional level! TCS is thankful for each building-level Volunteer of the Year, and those volunteers are listed below. 

Bel-Aire Elementary School: Samantha Zimmerman

East Lincoln Elementary School: Kevin Duke

Jack T. Farrar Elementary School: Kayla Hilley

Robert E. Lee Elementary School: Jamie Trimble

East Middle School: Jacqueline Ites

West Middle School: Jennifer Hood

Tullahoma High School: Deanna Saunders

Tullahoma Virtual Academy: Jay Frank

Tullahoma City Schools is dedicated to providing a curriculum that is marked by academic excellence, innovation, and creativity.  By offering a dynamic, personalized education experience, we assist students in becoming life-long learners and being college and career ready.


Our school is known for our talented teachers and signature programs. Visit each school to gain more insight as to what makes our district truly unique.


Tullahoma City Schools is committed to providing an environment focused on the needs of our students and families.

Strategic Plan

After input from staff, parents, community members and students, the BOE has identified Facilities, Virtual programs, and School to Work Pathways as top priorities.


Every single staff member at TCS is instrumental to the district's success. Follow this link to view the organizational chart for the school district.