HCDE Opportunity Zone Announces Final Additions To Leadership Team

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Hamilton County Department of Education Opportunity Zone Leadership Team announces the addition of the coordinator of Human Capital, and two Community Schools coordinators.

Teacher recruitment, retention, and training has been identified as a vital area of need when it comes to supporting the schools in the Opportunity Zone,, officials said.

Former HCDE educator and math coach Carmen Carson will take on the role of coordinator of Human Capital. Ms. Carson will be focusing her efforts to “recruit teachers and staff that are not only highly qualified, but are also dedicated to our children, our community, and our success.

Ms. Carson began her career in HCDE and then moved to UTC in the TRIO program. TRIO programs are student service programs developed by the federal government to remove barriers to higher education for students with disadvantaged backgrounds. Most recently, Ms. Carson has helped leaders grow personally and professionally through her own Life and Business Coaching business. As a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga, she said that she “could not pass an opportunity to impact the community by helping to recruit and support great teachers for our children.”

"As the Opportunity Zone seeks to enhance the communities and to build a community schools model, the addition of two community school coordinators was essential. Melissa Graham and John Cunningham will be serving as the coordinators of Community Schools," officials said.

Ms. Graham began her professional work in UTC’s TRIO programs before moving to HCDE. She served as a counselor at Brainerd High School for four years, Orchard Knob Middle School for three years and then Tyner Middle Academy. In addition to spearheading many initiatives in the community to support teen moms, she also works to improve college attrition in her work with the UTC Upward Bound program.
Mr. Cunningham is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom with federal and state awards for meritorious service. He has also worked as a counselor at Brainerd High School as the Freshman and Athletics counselor, Freshman Academy Lead from 2013-2017. In addition to being a Public Education Foundation Policy fellow, he has also worked with the college-readiness programs at UTC, particularly GEAR UP and Educational Opportunity Center. Mr. Cunningham is currently pursuing his Ph.D in the Learning and Leadership program at UTC.

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