VFW All-American Post 10904 proudly announces that three local teachers have been awarded the coveted Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Tennessee, Teacher of the Year Award for 2020-2021.
The recipients are Donna Harryman of Hillsboro Elementary School in the Kindergarten-5th grade category; Donna Burdine of Westwood Middle School in the 6th – 8th grade category; and Becki Louden of Coffee County Central High School in the high school category.
With 92 VFW Posts in Tennessee, being selected Teacher of the Year at the state level is a remarkable achievement. Seven local area teachers have received the honor over the last four years; this marks the first “sweep” as all three teachers selected at the local VFW Post level advanced to District selection and went on to be awarded Teacher of the Year for the State of Tennessee.
These three remarkable teachers will now advance to the VFW National level. Emily Ezell of Cowan Elementary School received the National award in 2018.
Donna Harryman has worked as a teacher for 29 years. She was selected because of the work she has done to educate elementary school children on veterans, American history, Veterans Day and the meaning of “service to country”. Around 15 years ago she created the Wall of Honor, which featured the names of former Hillsboro Elementary students who later served in the military.
She inspires her students to regard veterans as “superheroes” with artwork displayed throughout the school. She has supervised veterans programs and sold bracelets and other items to fund the ceremonies; as well as baked goods for the events. She teaches students patriotic songs and uses current political differences to teach American history such as the conflict between Andrew Jackson and John Adams.
Donna Burdine has a degree in business from Lee University. After working at an Atlanta business for a year, she had two children and was encouraged by family to work in the school system. After serving as a substitute teacher, she chose to pursue a degree in education. In 2017, she was awarded the Scottish Rite Educator of the Year award. She educates her students in flag etiquette, as well as the meaning of the various patriotic days and the importance of mutual respect in the classroom.
She had her students make Valentines and holiday cards for veterans at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro; in last year’s Veterans Day Parade she dedicated the parade entry to former First Lieutenant Gary Dyer, former Westwood Middle School student and Vietnam veteran, who returned and served his school as coach and teacher before his retirement.
Becki Louden served in the United States Army and was awarded the Bronze Star for her service in Iraq. She is Culinary Arts teacher at Coffee County Central High School and a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. To honor veterans, she coordinated projects in support of Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Patriots Day, Pearl Harbor Day and created a Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) competition. For Veterans Day last year, she and her students provided a drive-thru meal for veterans so that none felt forgotten.
She educates her students on topics ranging from Prisoners Of War / Missing In Action veterans, events surrounding September 11th, the meaning of the military funeral bugle call TAPS and the different branches of the service.
VFW Post 10904 Commander Kimberly King noted: “It is always an honor to meet and interview teachers who serve our country in this way. In an age when self-worth is stressed and sacrifice is not even discussed, it is so important for school children to realize what has been given to them as Americans. Teachers who educate our children in the values and morals of America are so deserving of this award.”
A tentative awards ceremony is scheduled for March 8th, 2021, at the Veterans Building located at 130 Shelton Road in Manchester.
For more information and to stay current on the latest VFW news, visit our website at
www.vfwpost10904.com. 130 Shelton Road Manchester, TN 3735