Educator of the Week: Donna Tate

HENDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — It’s time for this week’s Educator of the Week, brought to you by the Tennessee Education Lottery. 

Donna Tate is a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at Pin Oak Elementary School in Lexington.

After getting her degree, she started teaching at Pin Oak 27 years ago and continues to this day. She says that over the years, students have taught her some stuff also. 

“My favorite part about teaching is definitely the students. I learn more from them than they do from me, and I don’t think they realize it,” Tate said.

At first she didn’t plan on teaching middle school, but everything fell into place.

“My emphasis was actually K-3 in college, but I was qualified to teach K-8. When I started teaching middle school, I just really liked it and that’s where I’ve stayed,” Tate said.

She says there are a lot of things that can make you successful. In her classroom, communication is the most successful trait. 

“Success in my classroom would be communication. Not just listening to the words that come out, but understanding and also being able to process it and ask questions based on what you heard,” Tate said.

With new COVID-19 guidelines in the classroom and virtual learning, things in the classroom have been a little harder. 

“One of the hardest things is not getting to interact and ask the questions they might have asked if they had been sitting in the classroom. That hurts them. It hurts us too because we don’t know where they need the help,” Tate said.

Most of her career has been teaching in the classroom, but now, Tate has some virtual teaching experience under her belt.

“I believe that virtual learning can be done, but I think it’s just better to be in the classroom and to have that one-on-one experience,” Tate said. 

But at the end of the day, Tate enjoys making connections with the students in her classroom. She says she’ll be spending her last year at Pin Oak cherishing those connections. 

“That’s the greatest joy: The students that I’ve had the privilege of teaching and meeting through all these years,” Tate said.

Tate is now eligible for the Tennessee Education Lottery Educator of the Month award.

To vote for her or any other nominees, go to the Tennessee Education Lottery website.

To nominate a teacher for our weekly award, email us at

Categories: Educator of the Week