Christopher James, an administrator in Knox County Schools, is the new principal of Brainerd High School. Mr. James was announced to fill the role at Brainerd Thursday, and he will waste no time getting started, officials said. He plans to visit the school this afternoon and talk with teachers and students.
Mr. James is an assistant principal at Fulton High School in Knox County and also served in administration at West High School in Knoxville. He began his career in 2002 at SIATech Charter High School, an accelerated dropout recovery program supporting at-risk students in Atlanta. “During my time at SIATech, I began to understand the importance of education, and why the need for great teachers was so imperative,” Mr.
James said. He developed a study skills program to help students with academic achievement, credit recovery, behavior and social skills, while a special education teacher at R.L Osborne High School. The program’s success earned Mr. James, the Teacher of the Year award for Cobb County Schools in Georgia.
Mr. James was the candidate to emerge from an extensive community search for an innovative leader for Brainerd High, officials said. The selection process included interviews by a faculty panel, a community panel, as well as the Opportunity Zone leadership team. He was called a “true leader” by community advocate Tenesha Irvin and “the best candidate” by parent Jeffrey Pinkerton. Mr. James was identified as the top candidate for the Brainerd position by each of the interview panels.
The community panel, comprised of parents, students, UTC staff, community advocates, a university representative, nonprofit leaders and a school board member, was resolute in their recommendation of Mr. James as their top candidate. School board member Karitsa Mosley Jones stated, “Christopher James addressed the whole child and had innovative ideas.”
“Our goal in this process was to honor the voices and insights from our different stakeholders that have been so committed to Brainerd High School and its community,” said Carmen Carson, coordinator of human capital for the Opportunity Zone. “We set aside a day of rigorous interviews, presentations and tours, so that those stakeholders could see that we sought out the best and the brightest to lead this work of transformation.”
A native of Monroe, La., Mr. James earned the rank of Eagle Scout at 17, obtained his bachelor of arts in music at Mississippi Valley State University, holds a masters of arts in education from the University of Phoenix, and an education specialist in educational administration from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He will begin leading the "charge of transformation and growth" at Brainerd High School on March 5.
“To be the fastest improving school district in Tennessee, Hamilton County Schools must have dynamic leaders in our schools,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent. “Christopher James is one of those innovative leaders who can motivate teachers and students to be pacesetters in academic improvement at Brainerd High.”