UT Leadership Academy Announces New Class of Aspiring School Principals

KNOXVILLE — The Leadership Academy, a school principal training program, has announced its 2011-2012 class of participants.

A collaborative venture between the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the Knox County Schools, the Leadership Academy prepares talented individuals to become outstanding new school principals through a full-time, intensive 15-month fellowship program. The program is supported through both an anonymous gift and partially through Tennessee’s First to the Top funding. The class will begin work on June 1, 2011.

The Leadership Academy is a part of the Center for Educational Leadership, housed in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in UT’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences (CEHHS).

This is the second group of aspiring principals to attend the academy. The first class of 12 — all teachers or assistant principals in Knox County Schools — will complete the program in July 2011 and graduate in December 2011.

“We’re confident that we’ve created a state-of-the-art preparation program for school leaders that bridges the gap between those who are scholars of school leadership and those who are practitioners,” said Bob Rider, CEHHS dean. “The program provides on-the-job experience, specialized training in data-driven decision making, supervision and personnel, instructional leadership, school finance, equity and diversity policies, school law and the chance to translate theory into practice.”

Jim McIntyre, superintendent of the Knox County Schools, said the Leadership Academy and the Center for Educational Leadership “have been instrumental in creating a pipeline of dynamic, well-prepared and instructionally focused aspiring principal candidates in our schools.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with the University of Tennessee in helping us prepare the next generation of effective school leaders.”

Leadership Academy fellows will spend four days a week working in a school with an experienced mentor principal. The fifth day will be spent in coursework and seminars with professors and expert practitioner partners.

To complete the program, students will participate in a project that will integrate their learning across the many curricular areas of the academy, and will include an electronic portfolio documenting the student’s proficiency in school leadership and a public presentation about the 15-month experience. Fellows will graduate from the program with a master’s or education specialist degree and a state principal license.

For more about the Leadership Academy, see http://cel.utk.edu/academy.html.

The 2011-2012 cohort class includes:

Jessica Birdsong, special education consultant, Knox County Schools. Birdsong has a bachelor’s degree in special education from Bowling Green (Ky.) State University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Montana. She previously taught special education at the middle- and high-school levels in Montana, California and Ohio, and she has worked as an education coordinator in New Hampshire.

Joe Cameron, assistant principal, South Doyle Middle School. Cameron has a bachelor’s degree in education from Carson-Newman College. He has a master’s degree in administration and an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction, both from Lincoln Memorial University. He previously taught physical education at Holston Middle School and Carter Elementary School. He headed the School Health Index Committee at Holston Middle and served on the School Leadership Team and Tennessee School Improvement Plan for Carter Elementary.

Tammi Campbell, school counselor, Austin-East Magnet High School. Campbell has a bachelor’s degree in business administration/marketing from Clark Atlanta University and a master’s degree in education from Tusculum College. She has an educational specialist degree in administration and supervision and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance, both from Lincoln Memorial University. She has been the Project GRAD facilitator for the Knox County Schools and served in several capacities with Project GRAD Knoxville. She also has been a training specialist for Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation.

Windy Clayton, assistant principal, South Doyle Middle School. Clayton has a bachelor’s degree in applied human sciences and a master’s degree in teaching, both from East Tennessee State University, and an educational specialist degree in administration and supervision from Lincoln Memorial University. She previously taught at Farragut Middle School, Maury Middle School in Jefferson County and in Washington County Schools. She has served as principal of Farragut Middle’s summer program.

Keith Cottrell, third grade teacher, Sterchi Elementary School.  Cottrell has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UT Knoxville, a master’s degree in teaching from Carson-Newman College and an educational specialist degree in administration and supervision from Lincoln Memorial University. He has taught at Sterchi and A.L. Lotts elementary schools and Cedar Bluff Middle School. He has served as summer school principal at Beaumont Elementary.

Wendy Hansard, elementary instructional coach, Knox County Schools. Hansard has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Carson-Newman College and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from UT Knoxville. As an elementary instruction coach, she serves Halls, Corryton, Powell and East Knox elementary schools. She previously taught fourth grade at Inskip Elementary. She is a certified value-added leader for the State of Tennessee and is co-president elect of the Smoky Mountain Reading Council.

Jessica Holman, president, Knox County Education Association. Holman has a bachelor’s degree in human ecology and a master’s degree in child and family studies, both from UT Knoxville. She previously taught third grade at Dogwood Elementary School. She has served on the board of directors for the National Education Association (NEA) and Tennessee Education Association. She won the NEA Foundation “I CAN Learn” Award for Teaching Excellence in 2007.

Nadriene Jackson, assistant principal, Central High School. Jackson has a bachelor’s degree in speech communication education from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Mississippi College. She previously taught theater, broadcast journalism, public speaking and debate and communications at elementary, middle and high schools in Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. She also served as the parent resource and dropout prevention coordinator for the Walton County (Ga.) Board of Education and a consulting therapist for the Dyslexia Institutes of America.

Mark Jones, seventh grade teacher, Gresham Middle School. Jones has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from East Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Tennessee Technological University. He previously taught sixth grade at Gresham Middle. He has served as a staff development trainer at Gresham Middle and elsewhere in Knox and Sullivan counties. He also has been a mentor for new science teachers in Knox County, a foster parent trainer and a crisis intervention case manager/court liaison and child abuse investigator for Child and Family Services.

Kristi Woods, assistant principal, East Knox County Elementary School. Woods has a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science education from Tennessee Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Middle Tennessee State University. She has been an elementary instructional coach at several Knox County schools. She has taught elementary school in Knox and Morrison counties and junior high in Wilson County. She was Teacher of the Year at East Knox County Elementary in 2006-2007.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely, UT media relations, (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)

Melissa Copelan, Knox County Schools, (865- 594-1905, melissa.copelan@knoxschools.org)

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