Platinum Partner Spotlight: Cambridge Assessment International Education

Cambridge International is a proud partner of the Tennessee DOE as an Early Postsecondary Opportunity (EPSO) for high school students in Tennessee. EPSOs such as Cambridge International AS & A Levels offer students the opportunity to earn postsecondary credit in the US and around the world.

Part of the University of Cambridge in England, Cambridge Assessment International Education offers an internationally recognized instructional system that aligns curriculum, standards, teaching & learning, and assessment for grades K-12. The program is flexible because it allows for schools to offer the whole program or individual stages (by grade) and subjects. The program can be used alongside local education systems or on its own.

Districts already working with Cambridge International in TN: Rutherford County, Metro Nashville, Bradley County

"Providing our students with access to rigorous, international coursework is of critical importance to our school and our district," said Dr. Jill Pittman, Principal of John Overton High School in Nashville. "Our collaboration with Cambridge International is helping us create opportunities for students to not only fulfill high school graduation requirements, but also advance their readiness for increasingly competitive college and career options."


Want to learn more? Reach out to Lara-Lee Morin at 917-882-9399 or

Platinum Partner Spotlight: StaffEZ

StaffEZ, formerly PESG, is our July Platinum Partner Spotlight! StaffEZ, LLC is one of the top-ranked Education-Only Staffing Agency in the United States. For fourteen years, StaffEZ has built a solid reputation as a stable, reliable, and proven industry leader. Because education is their only focus, everything they do is with your success in mind. From maximizing classroom fill rates to streamlining internal processes, StaffEZ works every day to ensure your students receive the ultimate benefit: the education they deserve.

In Tennessee, StaffEZ is already working with Lebanon Special School District, Grainger County Schools, Gibson County Schools, Franklin Special Schools, Manchester City Schools, and Union County Schools.

"We have been pleased with the quality of services that has been provided from the StaffEZ representatives as they continue to go above and beyond to accommodate the needs of our administration." - Scott Benson, Lebanon Special School District

Want to learn more about StaffEZ? Visit their website or reach out to Kim Woodson at or 615-354-3170.

SUPERINTENDENT SPOTLIGHT: Richard Rawlings (Humphreys County)

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Richard Rawlings, the July 2019 Superintendent Spotlight, has been the Humphreys County Director of Schools for three years.

In Humphreys County Schools, they are partnering with local industries in advancing STEM education and Early Post-Secondary Opportunities for their students. This began when a local plant manager (needing a strong pool of local workers) reached out to the school system and other industry leaders to form a partnership. The immediate result was a renewed emphasis on students obtaining an Associate’s Degree in Industrial Process Control before graduating from high school. The partnership then expanded as other industries joined. The newest partner has a strong interest in STEM. His company, along with others, funded every STEM project presented to them by the school district.

They are also very proud of their federal Farm to School curriculum. One of their high schools provides lettuce and tomatoes to their schools' cafeterias. Students participate in educational activities related to agriculture, food, health, and nutrition. The program now provides hydroponic produce to all of cafeterias. Through cooperation with the school nutrition department, they have overcome such obstacles as preparation, freshness, longevity, and delivery of produce to the school cafeterias.

Mr. Rawlings’ favorite part of his job is working with a school board and administrators that recognize the importance of student growth. He also says that he is constantly amazed by how supportive his fellow Directors when he asks for advice. [<- That is what we love to hear at TOSS! Keep it up, members.]

When we asked Mr. Rawlings to share a funny memory from his time as a superintendent, he said, “I think I can safely say I am probably one of the most knowledgeable Directors when it comes to stacking sand bags to prevent a school from flooding (since we have 3 schools on the banks of a creek that constantly comes out of it banks). Yes, there is a correct way to stack sand bags. I forgot to take that class in college.” He joked, “As we interview teachers for a position at these schools, I always ask, ‘How many sand bags can you stack in 30 minutes?’”

Platinum Partner Spotlight: Energy Systems Group (ESG)

ENERGY SYSTEMS GROUP® (ESG) is a leading energy services provider that specializes in energy efficiency, sustainability, and infrastructure improvement solutions. Since 1994, ESG has been helping K-12 schools overcome the challenges of aging infrastructure and rising operational and energy costs by providing turnkey, budget-neutral solutions that directly enhance the quality and safety of learning environments. Through its core business of energy performance contracting, ESG helps Tennessee schools install new energy efficient building systems, where guaranteed savings from operation budgets help fund the capital improvements. ESG also offers a full range of sustainable infrastructure solutions including waste-to-energy, distributed generation, and renewable energy. To learn more, visit

ESG is currently working with several TN school districts, including: Anderson County Schools, Bradley County Schools, Cleveland City School District, Lawrence County School System, Oak Ridge Schools, and Warren County Schools

SUPERINTENDENT SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Bryan Johnson (Hamilton County)


The TOSS Superintendent Spotlight for June 2019 is Dr. Bryan Johnson, who is finishing up his second year as Director of Schools in Hamilton County.

Dr. Johnson shared some of the exciting things happening in Hamilton County Schools. Their vision is that every student graduates with the opportunity to pursue multiple pathways in life - “Future Ready.” Future Ready 2023, their strategic plan, launched in 2019 outline goals and strategies to fulfill this vision. Future Ready Institutes, the Opportunity Zone, Office of Innovation and School Choice, STEM and arts education are some of the strategies further implemented this year to offer a high quality educational experience to all students. In addition, the district, for the first time, invited 30 community leaders for an intimate look inside their public schools through Leadership HCS, a new 6- month community outreach initiative for leaders seeking a better understanding of the 21st century public school system.

Future Ready Institutes began in August 2018, as smaller learning communities within each high school to provide students with a unique learning environment through the lens of various career-themes. The institutes align what students are learning in all subjects around the specific career theme fostering meaningful connections. This effort towards rethinking the way they deliver high school curriculum started with 20 Future Ready Institutes in 13 high schools, and expanded to 27 in the 2019-2020 school year. Future Ready Preps were also launched this year in middle schools to begin exploration of college and career readiness earlier.

Committed educators, passionate students and strong business and industry partnerships have been key to their early success. Business partnerships have resulted in better alignment of addressing talent pipeline needs of the future, higher student engagement, an increase of 900 students taking Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) and more than $2 million of private investments into their Institutes.

Hamilton County Schools has strong support from the business community and includes branded business partners such as Unum, Erlanger Health, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, EPB, See Rock City and Bryan College. They continue to field interest, welcome and cultivate both branded and non-branded partners. STEM efforts in Hamilton County Schools have positioned their district as a national leader in digital fabrication with 17 digital fabrication labs in their schools. In the labs, students are engaged in activities such as: designing and 3D printing orthopedic devices for people and pets with special needs, conducting research on the viability of autonomous electric vehicles and taking salvaged parts from a computer to build a robot. Success for the future means preparing graduates with relevant tools and meaningful opportunities.

The more recently launched Office of Innovation and Choice will help accelerate the district’s focus on great quality school experiences for all students and expanded choice options for parents to make better informed decisions in their student’s educational planning.

My favorite part of my job is spending time in schools with students, teachers, and school leaders. In this role, it is important to not be consumed by the various challenges each day presents. It’s always refreshing to step into classrooms and engage with students around what they are learning and see their academic growth. Spending time in the classroom with young learners and listening to how their teachers are reaching them with the knowledge they will need to succeed at the next grade level or after graduation reminds me of why public education is so important and why we engage in this challenging work every day.

Every student and teacher has a story to share that reminds me of the importance of our work. Gabe Armstrong, a 2019 graduate of Soddy Daisy High with a full-ride scholarship to Georgia Tech and fellow graduate Jake DiChiacchio, who has a full-ride scholarship to Brown University, offered personal testaments to the value of AP classes and dual enrollment in a formal PowerPoint presentation given to their school administration encouraging more availability for future students. Kadijah Tinker, a 2019 graduate of Lookout Valley High, found her place in the band and now wants to return to Hamilton County Schools one day to teach music and help others to find their place in a band program. Zavier Chavez, a 2019 graduate of Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts and a 2019 Presidential Scholar, is on his way to Harvard University with dreams of one day being a lawyer. Marie Holland, a recent graduate of Sequoyah High, who was unsure of her path to success found her place as one of the few female students in the school’s Welding Program. Marie excelled and had a job waiting for her the week after graduation at a local manufacturer with excellent career prospects ahead. These stories of student pursuing their own paths to success inspire me every day.

The amazing teachers and leaders in Hamilton County Schools also inspire me. Jinlin Baker, a special education teacher, engages in her labor of love with students each day seeking to discover a new way to help her class communicate, learn, and grow. Dr. Le Andrea Ware, principal of the year for Hamilton County Schools, returned to her alma mater last year to lead Howard High with her vision of HOPE (Helping Others Pursue Excellence) and her passion for children and Howard that earned her this district honor. In addition, Andrea Dyer, an ESOL teacher in the district, who not only teaches students from Guatemala, but also travels to the country frequently to understand their families and where her students come from so that she can better address the student’s educational needs in her class is empowering.

There are so many more stories that I don’t have space to share, but each one recharges me and keeps me focused on providing a great educational experience for all students in our district.

FUN FACT: Dr. Johnson is a self-proclaimed sports enthusiast. He’s a huge fan of Notre Dame football (Go Irish!). He’s also set a personal goal of visiting every Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium.