The Longest-Serving Teacher in Knox County Schools

The town of Farragut was mostly farmland when Eddie Courtney began working at the high school in 1976, and he has witnessed quite an evolution during his 47-year career as a teacher and coach. 

As a young person entering the profession, he was excited to serve the community in such an integral way. 

“Coaching and teaching is very respectable, especially when you’re trying to be an example and positive role model,” he said. “That’s why I got started and what’s kept me here for so long.”

In the near half-century Courtney has been teaching, he’s developed a firm set of beliefs that he applies inside the classroom and out – a standard for presenting yourself as a professional, regardful citizen.

This Code of Conduct is proudly displayed on the wall of his office and he says it’s not just for his athletes and students, but also for him and his coworkers. 

Time has granted Courtney the opportunity to meet hundreds of teachers – all at different points in their careers. His best advice on getting started is to “have a passion for helping kids.” To have a career as long as his, earn the trust and respect of your students. 

“Just be consistent. When things are going good or when they’re going bad, you have to continue to be the same person.” 

The Youngest Teacher in Knox County Schools

Googling “how to become a Tennessee teacher,” provides a pretty clear path: go to an accredited college, earn a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved educator prep program, and pass appropriate Praxis exams.

Knox County is committed to finding innovative ways to recruit new teachers, something that has benefitted Jayla Huddleston, who started her career just one year after becoming a legal adult. 

Huddleston has always been drawn to kids. After graduating high school early, she took time off to become a family nanny and a tutor at Gresham Middle

“After starting as a tutor, I knew I wanted a bigger role here, so I started school and finished faster than normal because I took some accelerated courses,” she said.

A Gresham alumni, she said it was easy to come back to her old school and community–it was familiar because some of her current coworkers were her teachers when she was at the school just a few years ago. 

“I’m leaning on the veteran teachers and learning a lot about the importance of building relationships with students,” Huddleston said. “The other math teacher I work with has a connection with almost every student she has and I’m learning that makes teaching easier. I know what I’m doing with math and instruction, but I’m learning how to build relationships like that with my own students.”

Still, she says her biggest learning curve has been reminding herself of her ‘why’ each day, especially the challenging ones. “In the end,” she says, “It’s all worth it because of what I get to do.”

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