NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today named Bruce Opie commissioner of the Department of Education. Opie replaces former commissioner Tim Webb who announced his resignation last week.
“Bruce has spent 34 years in the field of public education, including nine years as a classroom teacher,” said Bredesen. “His experience, dedication, and the leadership he has shown in various roles with the Tennessee Department of Education will provide the continuity that’s so critical now with our First to the Top focus on improving student performance.”
“This is a great honor, and I appreciate this opportunity to serve Governor Bredesen and the state of Tennessee in this new capacity,” said Opie. “I look forward to continuing to work with the employees of the Department of Education to achieve our public education improvement goals and will do everything I can to help assure a smooth transition as a new administration begins in January.”
Opie began his career in public education as a classroom teacher in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System where he was awarded the DAR Tennessee History Teacher of the Year Award.
He joined the Tennessee Department of Education in 1985 and has served as the department’s executive director for curriculum and instruction, director for the state’s special schools, assistant commissioner for legislation and policy and as deputy commissioner.
Opie helped develop the department’s Exemplary Educator Program and has worked to develop and implement special projects for the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, Homecoming ’86, the Tennessee Bicentennial, the Tennessee Collaborative: Project EQ. He also coordinated the finance research study funded by the Gates Foundation and conducted by the University of Washington’s Human Services Policy Center.
He formerly served as an adjunct faculty member for Nashville State Community College and has served on various boards including the Appalachia Educational Laboratory, DOE Board of Examiners, TSSAA and the Tennessee Geographic Alliance. He holds a bachelor of science with a double major in history and political science and a master’s degree in education administration, both from Austin Peay State University.