Post-high school education is often seen as a necessity that is far too expensive for many seniors. Hamilton County superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson’s new scholarship will hopefully alleviate these costs for some of the county’s most outstanding students.
With hundreds of Ooltewah High School seniors sitting in their school’s bleachers, news cameras rolling in front of him, and members of the school board mingling in the gym, Dr.
Johnson unveiled a new scholarship in a much-anticipated press conference.
Since the superintendent took over in 2017, Hamilton County Schools have become some of the best in the state of Tennessee. The state measures success from a scale of one to five, and Hamilton County’s schools consistently received the highest of scores.
“There are over 44k students in our district. What we found our school district is a level 5, because of our teachers and because of you. There were 45 schools that reached the state’s highest level of growth,” said Dr. Johnson, “84 percent of our schools met or exceeded the state’s expectation for academic growth.”
Because Hamilton County schools performed at such a high level, the superintendent received a hefty bonus. However, instead of keeping the money, Dr. Johnson decided to use it to serve a higher cause. In honor of his late mother, Dr. Johnson will take the money from his bonus and put it into a scholarship.
“I’m going to take those dollars and give out scholarships created in honor of you,” he said of his late mother, “What she taught my family is that education is extremely important. And the second thing is that it’s not about what you get, it’s what you give.”
This has been a move the family has thought about for a an extended amount of time.
“It’s been at the back of our mind for a while. Our family has talked about it for some time, and now it’s the perfect time to do it,” said superintendent Johnson, “My mother died two years ago, so it’s still quasi-fresh from the standpoint of our loss and how we’ve adjusted to our new reality. This is something we want to do to honor her on the educational circuit.”
When asked about how much money will go to each student, superintendent Johnson made it clear that while the details were still being worked out, those details would be finalized by the time the deadline to apply for scholarships came about.
“It will be hammered out by the time they roll. We’ll put together the details of the information, and make sure that students and counselors know,” he said to media after the speech, “But the reality is, there is millions and millions of dollars of scholarships given, so from the scope of the program and what happens, we understand this isn’t huge from that standpoint. But for us, it is significant.”
One of those details yet to be decided upon is the criteria for who receives the scholarship. Some wondered if it will be given to students who need financial aid, or students of high academic performance.
“It’ll be a little mix of both. We want to make sure that, obviously, it goes to students committed to excellence. That’s important to us,” said Dr. Johnson, “It’s also important to us that it goes to students who are about serving.”
Dr. Johnson also took time to praise Hamilton County’s school faculty, who he said made these high scores possible. The superintendent said “I’m a firm believer that anything is possible. We have a great schoolboard with a clear vision. We have a great team of teachers and leaders and support staff that are committed to these students.”
The superintendent then spent several minutes praising each of these groups. Dr. Johnson illustrated how vital each part was to the success of the school, thus painting a picture of an interconnected system where each part contributed to the success of the school system.
“We’re just excited for this moment,” he said, “We’d like to thank you, we’d like to thank our teachers, and we’d like to thank our leaders for what each of you did this year.”
And of course, Dr. Johnson spotlighted the true reason the school system, and the new scholarship, exists.
“Our agenda is children, and we’re excited to proceed into (helping) children.”