By David Carroll

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-  One of Hamilton County's longest-serving and most successful principals was honored by the County Commission Wednesday.

Dr. Lee McDade is completing his tenth year as principal at Lookout Valley Middle-High School, serving longer than any other high school principal in the county.  Under his administration, the rate of seniors going to college has risen from 50 percent to 91 percent,  the largest increase in the county.  Dr. McDade said he's proud of the award, but made it clear it belongs to his entire staff.

"We have teachers who work long before school starts in the morning, and stay long after it ends in the afternoon.  They're busy in the summer too.  We've had to change the culture at the school, and it's a gradual thing, but we're getting there.  And it's not just the high school.  We start emphasizing the importance of college as early as sixth grade, and I'm glad the message is getting across."

Commissioners praised Dr. McDade as "a hands-on principal who encourages parental involvement," and expressed hope that his success at Lookout Valley could be duplicated throughout Hamilton County.

Commission Chairman Fred Skillern says he has followed McDade's career for more than 20 years, and said, "I hope he'll be a principal in my District (1) some day.  But I won't support him.  They don't choose the ones I support.  But if I'm lucky enough to get him, I'll support him then!"

Vice Chair Dr. Richard Casavant complimented Dr. McDade, saying "I know your wife Connie is a teacher, so education is a family thing for you, and you both do great work."

District 6 Commissioner John Allen Brooks, whose district includes Lookout Valley, called Dr. McDade "one of our best principals," and joined Mayor Claude Ramsey in saying "we hope your best years in Hamilton County are still to come."