Despite the encouragement from colleagues, Meghan Vigil was not sure she would have an opportunity to attend a virtual business meeting being held during an annual conference hosted by the Tennessee Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Eventually the encouragement became all the more direct.
Vigil, a ninth-year teacher of English as a second language at Smyrna Middle School, was told she really needed to listen in.
“I was a little suspicious,” Vigil said, “but really didn't have any inkling that that's why they wanted me to listen to the meeting. I was just very shocked, very surprised.”
She then added, “I thought maybe they just needed bodies at the meeting or maybe there was some important ESL information that was going to be released that I needed to hear...but thought it was weird because I was the only one that seemed to be really pressured to do it.”
Vigil was named the Middle Region TNTESOL Teacher of the Year and then named the statewide Teacher of the Year.
“No one could see my face was turning red and I was like, oh my gosh,” recalled Vigil, who praised the other regional selections as “two other wonderful teachers. I was just flabbergasted. I didn't even know what to say.”
Vigil was nominated last summer by fellow Smyrna Middle instructor DeAnna Osborne.
At the time, Vigil knew about the nomination but had since forgotten.
Vigil has spent all nine years with Rutherford County Schools at Smyrna Middle and has taught ESL summer school, given several presentations at conferences and is the ESL department head at Smyrna.
Like many of her contemporaries, Vigil said is less about awards and all about students and the relationships she’s developed with them.
“I’m here every day to advocate for them, to push for them and that even when things are difficult, they can still learn,” Vigil said, “and they still have so many opportunities to be successful.”
That said, she added, “I'm just really grateful for the opportunities I've had in Rutherford County. I've worked with great teachers, great administration in my school. Great people in the Central Office, who are in charge of the ESL program, and I think I've been set up for success and I've learned so much from all the teachers that I've taught with. That's what made me the teacher I am today.”
- KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT, Rutherford County Schools