Dr. Sharon Cochrane

Tennessee Networks and East Team Special Projects Director


Dr. Sharon Cochrane serves as the Tennessee networks and east team special projects director for NIET. As part of this role, she supports the Tennessee Rural Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN), a group of districts committed to working together to address the unique challenges rural educators face and share best practices grounded in grassroots experiences and implementation.

Prior to joining NIET, Sharon partnered with districts to improve student outcomes as an academic consultant in the south central region for the Tennessee Department of Education. She also brings over 16 years of classroom teaching experience ranging from pre-K to adult education. She pairs that passion for instruction with her Carnegie Networked Improvement Leadership training to support educators to best leverage systems, structures, resources, and stakeholders to improve student outcomes.

Sharon earned her Bachelor of Science in secondary education and a Ph.D. in exceptional learning with a concentration in literacy at Tennessee Technological University.  

Dr. Sharon  Cochrane

Why are you passionate about working at NIET?

I strongly believe that the instructional core − the fusion of teachers, students, and materials − is where the magic of learning happens. This mission of NIET to build educator excellence to give all students the opportunity for success aligns with that belief, and I am honored to be part of a team that comes alongside at every stakeholder level to carry out that mission. I am passionate about working at NIET because I can live out my core value of making a difference by supporting the work of educators in classrooms, schools, districts, and state departments through building relationships, thinking strategically, and making complexities accessible for broad understanding in order to improve outcomes for students and to set them on paths to success in learning and life.

Who is your favorite teacher?

I am the product of the investment of countless teachers over the course of my academic career, but my favorite teacher is one in whose classroom I never sat. Martha B. Jones, my maternal grandmother, inspired me to be a teacher and a lifelong learner. Traveling every weekend in a horse and buggy to town so that she could work and go to high school, she managed to graduate when she was 15 years old. From there she attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, paying for her education by tutoring blind students who were also attending college. She became the first person in my family to earn a teaching degree and started a legacy of educators that has spanned four generations.

What do you do in your free time?

Spending time with family and friends is my favorite way to use my free time. Whether taking on remodeling projects, celebrating important milestones, or relaxing at the beach, it's always more fun with family!