TEA has hired Jim Wrye as its new government relations manager and chief lobbyist. The 46,000-member education association has also promoted Terrance Gibson and Duran Williams to assistant executive director positions.
“While we certainly have our work cut out for us in the legislature, with the addition of Jim and two new assistant executive directors , we are confident in our ability to protect the rights of Tennessee’s students and teachers,” said Gera Summerford, Sevier County math teacher and TEA president. “Legislators have finally agitated educators enough that we are starting to see teachers engage in the legislative process more than ever. TEA is signing up new members every week. This is a challenging but exciting time for the association. We are fortunate to have these leaders on our team.”
Wrye previously worked as communications director for the Alabama Education Association where he was a leader in AEA’s successful fight to stop charter schools in the state. He brings more than 20 years of education experience to TEA. Wrye has already spent numerous hours working with legislators to move legislation that supports, not destroys, public schools.
“I’ve told legislators that for TEA today, it is not about ‘R’ or ‘D.’ It is about who will stand up for our public schools,” said Wrye. “Tennessee’s hard-working educators are ready to work with any legislator who has the best interests of our students at heart.”
Terrance Gibson, originally from Memphis, was promoted to assistant executive director for professional growth. Gibson previously served as TEA manager of instruction and professional development. He was a teacher in Metro Nashville before joining the TEA staff. Duran Williams was promoted to assistant executive director for advocacy. Williams previously served as TEA membership director, prior to which he was a principal and teacher in East Tennessee.
Longtime TEA staff member and former Assistant Executive Director Mitchell Johnson is serving as interim executive director until TEA hires a new executive director this spring. Former Executive Director Al Mance retired at the end of 2012 after nearly 30 years of serving Tennessee’s teachers.