TN DOE Names 52 School Leaders For Rural Principal Network

Friday, September 14, 2018

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today the 52 principals who will serve in the inaugural class of the Tennessee Rural Principals Network, one part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Transforming School Leadership Initiative, which is a "comprehensive approach to improve the preparation, retention and development of Tennessee’s principals." The department is also providing funding for scholarships to support professional development for up to 200 additional rural principals. 
"Principals in rural schools are often unable to take advantage of leadership development due to the cost of registration and travel and have few networking opportunities to learn from other school leaders.

To address this need, the department is implementing a two-prong approach by creating a professional network for 52 rural principals, who will also receive funding to attend state-led conferences and training opportunities, and by providing scholarships for up to 200 additional rural principals to attend state-provided training opportunities," officials said.
“We must ensure that every school, no matter where it is located in Tennessee, is led by a principal who is supported and developed to his or her fullest potential and able to guide our teachers and students to success,” said Comm. McQueen. “The Tennessee Rural Principals Network is an innovative approach to meet the unique needs of school leaders in our rural communities and allow them to grow professionally and learn from one another to ultimately benefit our students.” 
"The department and school districts have supported school leaders in part by implementing an effective evaluation system and offering robust professional learning; however, opportunities for school leaders in rural communities are still limited. Addressing Tennessee’s broader leadership challenges involves making sure that the state is also targeting rural school leaders with access to high-quality professional learning," officials said.
The participants selected for the Tennessee Rural Principals Network will receive funding to support their attendance and learning at five events during the 2018-19 school year designed to provide them with professional learning aligned to help address those challenges that are unique to rural leadership.  
"The Tennessee Rural Principals Network recognizes the importance of providing a sustained opportunity for rural principals by providing them the ability to participate in:  ongoing professional learning from state and national experts on evidence-based strategies that improve educator effectiveness and student outcomes in a rural setting; opportunities to exchange ideas, strategies, resources, and common challenges with peers in a safe and supportive setting; and opportunities to work with a smaller group of peers in a community of practice focused on a common challenge to identify best practices currently in use and to reduce isolation. 
The Transforming School Leadership Initiative was announced by Governor Haslam in March 2018 and leverages both state and private dollars to improve leader pipeline programs, reward and retain individuals effectively leading our state’s lowest performing schools, and provide networking opportunities and support for principals in our rural communities. Gov. Haslam has dedicated more than $3.5 million in this year’s budget to advance this work, and additionally, the Ayers Foundation, Scarlett Family Foundation, and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) have invested a combined $600,000 to the efforts. 

A full list of members of the Tennessee Rural Principals Network is below.


School District


Karri Hobby

Anderson County

Norwood Elementary

Beth Roeder

Anderson County

Andersonville Elementary

Brooks Rawson

Bells City School

Bells Elementary School

Teresa Robinson

Blount County

Lanier Elementary

Sandi Wilson

Campbell County

Homer A. Rutherford Learning Academy

Angela Cossey

Cannon County

Woodland School

Diana Bowers

Carter County

Unaka Elementary

Melinda Broyles

Cheatham County

Ashland City Elementary

Melissa Brock

Claiborne County

H.Y. Livesay Middle School

Sharon Tolliver

Claiborne County

Midway Elementary School

Justin Whittenbarger

Cumberland County

Stone Elementary

Lenita Click

Dyersburg City Schools

Dyersburg Intermediate School

Linda DeBerry

Dyersburg City Schools

Dyersburg Primary School

Kim Worley

Dyersburg City Schools

Dyersburg High School

Sheri York

Fentress County

Pine Haven Elementary

James Hughes

Gibson Co Special School District

Gibson County High School

Ginny McElhaney

Grainger County

Washburn School

Jack Evans

Greeneville City Schools

Greeneville Middle School

Patrick Fraley

Greeneville City Schools

Greeneville High School

Shelia Newland

Greeneville City Schools

Highland Elementary

Mitch Cantwell

Hancock County

Hancock County Middle/High School

Cameshia Emerson

Hardeman County

Bolivar Central High School

Carmen Blankenship

Hardin County

West Hardin Elementary

Renee Bernard

Hawkins County

McPheeter's Bend Elementary School

Mary Ann Davis

Hawkins County

St. Clair Elementary

Scott Jones

Hawkins County

Church Hill Middle School

Keri Hanes

Hickman County

East Hickman Intermediate School

Melanie Simpson

Jefferson County

Piedmont Elementary School

Teresa Stansberry

Johnson County

Doe Elementary

David Ayers

Lake County

Lara Kendall Elementary

Gamble Snyder

Lake County

Margaret Newton Elementary

Patty Franks

Lawrence County

Summertown High School

Michael Casteel

Loudon County

Greenback Public School

Kristen Hix

Macon County

Lafayette Elementary School

Kimberly Shurett

Marion County

Jasper Elementary

John Bush

Marshall County

Marshall County High School

Michael Ford

Maury County

Randolph Howell Elementary School

Laura Bunch

Morgan County

Petros Joyner Elementary School

Greg Barclay

Obion County

Obion County Central High School

Kimberly Jackson

Obion County

South Fulton Middle and High School

Chip Gray

Paris Special Schools

Paris Elementary

Tamra Lanning

Polk County

Polk Innovative Learning Academy

Scott Calahan

Roane County

Harriman High School

William Childers

Sequatchie County

Griffith Elementary School

Sabrina McClard

Sumner County

J.W. Wiseman Elementary

Paul Pillow

Trenton Special School District

Trenton Rosenwald Middle School

Michelle Lewis

Warren County

West Elementary

Mike Mansfield

Warren County

Hickory Creek Elementary

Carol Prater

Warren County

Eastside Elementary

John McKinney

Washington County

South Central Elementary

Rachel Price

Washington County

Grandview Elementary School

Farrah Griffith

White County

White County Middle School


For more information on the network, contact Hank Staggs, director of governor’s academy for school leadership, at


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