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FHU’s trailblazing educators lead Tennessee teacher education associations

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Dr. Amy Downey
Dr. Sharen Cypress

In a highly unusual step, both of Tennessee’s professional organizations for teacher education have chosen their presidents from the same university. Freed-Hardeman university’s dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the chair of the Department of Education have taken the reins of the two organizations.
Dr. Sharen Cypress, professor of education and dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at FHU, has been elected president of the Tennessee Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (TACTE). TACTE is a leading advocacy group for colleges of teacher preparation in the state. With 25 years of active involvement in TACTE, Cypress is the first African American president of the association. She is dedicated to advocating for educator preparation in higher education institutions and P-12 schools across the state.
At the same time, Dr. Amy Downey, FHU associate professor of education and department chair of education, has been elected to lead the Tennessee Association for Independent Liberal Arts Colleges of Teacher Education (TAILACTE). Downey, a former educator and school leader in Metro Nashville Public Schools, is excited to continue her passion for education and leadership in her new role. 
FHU President David R. Shannon commented, “It is rare for these two organizations to elect both leaders from the same institution. I appreciate Dr. Cypress’ and Dr. Downey’s dedication to their profession and their desire to improve teacher education programs across the state.”
Both Cypress and Downey say they are honored to represent colleges and universities across the state, as they continue to lead at FHU.
Freed-Hardeman University’s Educator Preparation program is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP, formerly NCATE). In addition, the Tennessee Department of Education has approved all licensure programs offered by the university.
The university’s history in teacher preparation dates to 1870. In 1908 when A.G. Freed and N.B. Hardeman joined forces to start a school, they called it National Teachers Normal and Business College. In 1955, Tennessee’s State Board of Education approved Freed-Hardeman’s teacher education program. This accreditation by the State Department of Education continues that accreditation. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE now known as CAEP), first accredited the program on the national level in 1981.

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