A Memphis teacher who was Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year in 2015 soon will begin working directly with Superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s team to interject a teacher’s voice in policy decisions for Shelby County Schools.

In a first-of-its-kind hybrid role, Karen Vogelsang will work part time in the office of Brian Stockton, Hopson’s chief of staff, while teaching part time at Winridge Elementary School.

Stockton said Vogelsang’s input will be especially helpful related to curriculum, instruction and teacher engagement.

“Teachers will now have a voice when it comes to academics,” said Stockton, who became Hopson’s chief of staff in July. “Having someone out in the field will definitely help with morale.”

Vogelsang will spend half the day in her third-grade classroom at Winridge and the other half at the district’s central office. A co-teacher will be brought on board at Winridge to assist her in the classroom.

Vogelsang was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2015 and continues to serve on Gov. Bill Haslam’s teachers cabinet. In both roles, she has shared her perspectives with state policymakers. Now she hopes to do the same at the local level.

“It’s very important for teachers to be at the table. It’s very important whether it’s a government, commissioner, a district superintendent, a principal, whatever it is,” Vogelsang said. “Teacher voice needs to be at the decision-making tables.”