New Supt. Rick Smith makes multiple principal moves
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Just four days into his official capacity as Hamilton County's superintendent of schools, Rick Smith is putting his stamp on the district. Although only a handful of principal vacancies existed last week, more than a dozen schools will have new leadership when classes resume on August 10.
One of Smith's first moves, announced even before his contract was approved last week, was to name Dr. Lee McDade as his assistant superintendent for administration. The newly created title, according to Smith, is basically another name for Smith's old job, which was deputy superintendent. Replacing McDade as principal at Lookout Valley Middle/High is the school's longtime assistant principal, Rick Rushworth.
Another vacancy was created at Red Bank Middle School, where principal Stacy Stewart served in the 2010-11 school year. Ms. Stewart has been promoted to the central office as assistant superintendent for personnel. She will be replaced at Red Bank Middle by John Pierce, who had most recently served as assistant principal at Red Bank High.
There's another change at the top at Orchard Knob Middle School, which ranked near the bottom of Hamilton County schools in the recent Tell Tennessee poll, which measured teacher satisfaction in learning and work environment. Maryo Beck is being replaced by Crystal Sorrells, an assistant principal at Brainerd High School. Beck has been reassigned to an assistant principal post at Central High School.
There are several elementary moves. Sharon Watts is leaving East Ridge Elementary after 11 years, having been reassigned to Birchwood Elementary. She is being replaced by Carol Langston, a longtime principal who had worked as an elementary school director in recent years. Her director's position was eliminated as part of recent budget cuts.
At Birchwood, the principal vacancy was created when Danna Thorne was transferred to Hixson Elementary. Ms. Thorne is a native of Kansas who has worked in Hamilton County since 2008. She replaces Sandra Jerardi, who will be the new principal at Ganns Middle Valley.
Karen Hollis is leaving Ganns to become director of the Benwood Initiative at the central office, replacing the retiring Susan Swanson.
Dr. Jennifer Spates is leaving her assistant principal post at Shepherd Elementary to become principal of Brown Academy. She is replacing Lea Ann Burk, who will become principal at Falling Water Elementary. The current principal of that school, Angelia Askins is being transferred to Hillcrest Elementary, where she will replace Katrina Overton. Ms. Overton has not yet been reassigned.
LaFrederick Thirkill, one of the county's first National Board Certified teachers, is making the move from assistant principal at Apison Elementary, to principal at Orchard Knob Elementary. He is replacing Marthel Young, who will become principal at Rivermont Elementary. Leesa Kerns had served as principal at Rivermont for the past five years. Ms. Kerns has not yet been reassigned.
Daisy Elementary will also have a new principal. That job became vacant in May when Kirk Shrum announced he would leave the district for a principal job in the Atlanta area. Former Clifton Hills assistant principal Katrina Gravitte will take over at Daisy.
Smith confirmed the moves to Channel 3 Eyewitness News School Patrol, saying no further principal moves are anticipated. He said several assistant principal moves will be made during the next week.