Four new principals have been selected to lead schools for the 2020-2021 School year in Hamilton County Schools. The schools getting new leaders are Allen Elementary, East Brainerd Elementary, Daisy Elementary, and Red Bank Middle School. Three of the new school leaders are familiar faces in Hamilton County Schools. Two are stepping up to accept new assignments in the district as the school system prepares for challenges we face in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating tornado that impacted the eastern part of our county.
"High-quality leadership is vital to the success of our schools and learning communities as we push forward to higher achievement, even with the knowledge that certain challenges lie ahead," said Dr. Neelie Parker, chief schools officer, Hamilton County Schools. "We understand the gravity of the school dynamic and how a quality leader manages change and sets the focus and culture, leading to the ultimate success of children in our schools."
Jill Hall, currently the assistant principal of Daisy Elementary, will step into the principal role at the school for the fall. Hall will be welcomed by the parents of Daisy Elementary, pleased with the direction of the school under the leadership of Dr. Lee Ziegler. Ziegler is moving to Hixson High School to take over for Principal Lee Sims, who is retiring.
Ms. Hall has been a part of the Daisy family since 2006 and has served as a teacher on special assignment preparing for leadership, and as a teacher at several grade levels. In the classroom, she taught kindergarten, second-grade, and third-grade. Ms. Hall has been in Hamilton County Schools since 2001 and has also worked at Red Bank Elementary and Spring Creek Elementary. She participated on leadership teams and served as a grade level leader at Red Bank and Daisy.
"I believe that all students should have a rigorous curriculum, and as a school, we can make a lasting impression on students that will inspire them throughout their educational path and prepare them for the future," said Ms. Hall. "During this my time as assistant principal, I learned valuable leadership skills, and I am very grateful for the trust placed in me, allowing me to participate in all the leadership responsibilities."
Ms. Hall has a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a master's from Trevecca Nazarene University. She was also a member of the Public Education Foundation (PEF) Leadership Cohort 21, helped to create a House System at Daisy Elementary, and trained in McRel Balanced Leadership.
"My ability to motivate students and share a love of learning fosters a successful classroom environment," added Ms. Hall. "I welcome the role of school leader to support the growth of our entire community."
Dr. Phillip Greeson comes to Hamilton County from Laurens County, Georgia, to lead Allen Elementary. He returns to Hamilton County after nine years in leadership positions, including assistant principal, principal, and director of Human Resources in school districts in Georgia. Before serving as a leader, Dr. Greeson was a school counselor for sixteen years. Schools he served included DuPont Elementary, East Brainerd Elementary, Cleveland High School, and Murray County High School.
Dr. Greeson replaced Chris Tillett at Allen Elementary. Mr. Tillett will be the new principal at Red Bank High School in the fall taking over for Elaine Harper who is now the executive director of the North River Learning Community.
Dr. Greeson received the Puckett Highly Effective Middle School Principal Award from the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals as principal of Gladden Middle School in Chatsworth, Georgia. He was presented the Ron Amerson Safety Award from the Georgia Workers Compensation Trust in recognition of the greatest reduction in worker's compensation claims in the state as director of Human Resources for Laurens County Schools. He also received the Dissertation Award from Trevecca Nazarene University recognizing his research focusing on improving student success rates.
After completing the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Berry College, the Master of Education in School Counseling at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the Educational Specialist in Administration and Supervision at Lincoln Memorial University, he earned the Doctor of Education in Leadership and Professional Practice at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.
East Brainerd Elementary is undergoing a lot of transition due to the tornado damage from the Easter weekend and the prospects of teachers and children being in a temporary location at the start of the school year in the fall. Saunya Goss, a veteran of Hamilton County Schools, has been tapped to lead the school through the transition. She will take over for Dr. Marthel Young who is retiring.
Ms. Goss currently serves as the elementary director of the Opportunity Zone. Her notable achievements as director include selection to the Inaugural Principal Supervisory Network, and all elementary priority schools in the Opportunity Zone reached a composite Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS) score of 4 or 5 based on 2019 TNReady results.
Previously, Ms. Goss served as principal at Battle Academy from 2010-2017, and assistant principal at Westview Elementary from 2008-2010. Before moving into administration, she was the school psychologist and gifted teacher at Battle Academy. Accomplishments of Ms. Goss as an administrator include playing an instrumental role in the Tennessee Department of Education's Network for Educator Preparation Partnerships (NEPP), which led to improved teacher effectiveness by working with universities to enhance student teaching programs. Battle Academy was named a National Magnet School of Excellence and earned straight As in achievement during her tenure.
Ms. Goss is a product of area public schools as she graduated from Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences. She holds bachelor's, master's, and specialist degrees from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Currently, Goss is pursuing a doctoral degree from Carson-Newman University. She completed the Tennessee Department of Education Principal Academy, PEF Principal Leadership Academy and Leadership Fellows Cohort 7.
Dr. John Tharp will take his 27 years of experience in education to Red Bank Middle School to serve as the school's new principal. He is taking over for Andrea Edmondson, who will work with Federal Programs in the fall. Since May 2018, Dr. Tharp served as executive director for the Harrison Bay Learning Community in Hamilton County Schools. He has been an executive director, teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and university professor during his career.
Dr. Tharp was executive director at Pathways Charter High School in Milwaukee before coming to Hamilton County Schools. He served as a faculty associate with the University of Phoenix and as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. He was superintendent for Greendale School District in Greendale, Wisconsin, assistant superintendent for Williamson County Schools in Franklin, Tennessee, a principal in the Greenville School District in South Carolina and an assistant principal in Durham Public Schools in North Carolina.
Dr. Tharp started his career as a social studies teacher in North Carolina. He earned his undergraduate degree at Illinois Wesleyan University. He has advanced degrees, including his doctorate, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"We gathered input from parents, teachers, and students through this principal selection process," added Dr. Parker. "Our community shared specific experience and qualities they desired in a school leader which helped us be very intentional in our selection process."
These new principals will be supported by strong leadership in their respective learning communities. Dr. Larrie Reynolds, executive director of the Missionary Ridge Learning Community, will transition his leadership to the Harrison Bay Learning Community. Dr. Jason Vance, currently director of Federal Programs for Hamilton County Schools, will now lead the Missionary Ridge Learning Community. Dr. Robert Sharpe will continue in his role with the Rock Point Learning Community, as will Elaine Harper, who joined the North River Learning Community earlier this year. With the realignment of some schools, the district is updating the name of one learning community to become known as the MidTown Learning Community, which will include seven schools formerly in the Opportunity Zone. Five of the schools in MidTown are also part of the Partnership Network. Dr. Elaine Swafford, the chief executive officer of Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, will provide leadership capacity building and support to MidTown principals. Dr. Swafford, a proven school turnaround specialist, was a longtime administrator in Hamilton County Schools. She served as an area superintendent and executive principal of Howard High School during her esteemed career. Swafford will support the schools in the interim until the permanent leader is appointed to serve the MidTown schools and the Partnership Network.