Ooltewah Elementary principal resigns after six months on the job
The principal of one of Hamilton County's largest schools has resigned. Dr. Frank Fischel, who moved to Ooltewah Elementary School earlier this year from New Jersey, was not at the school Tuesday, and school officials have confirmed that he has resigned. Sources tell Eyewitness News that Fischel had been criticized by some due to the "atmosphere" at the school. Also, in recent days, numerous parents have complained on social media about changes in the school's drop-off and pick-up procedures, which had backed up traffic near the school. Fischel had admitted his changes did not work, and had reportedly discontinued those changes this week.
This is the school's second sudden change at the top in two years. Last year, Tom Arnold was transferred to an assistant principal position at East Ridge Middle School, and was replaced by former Westview principal Margo Williams until Fischel was hired. With Fischel's sudden departure, Karen Hollis, a recently retired former principal and central office elementary director, will run the school on an interim basis.
Ooltewah Elementary has approximately one thousand students in grades K-5.
This was the announcement issued by Hamilton County Schools on Fischel's hiring on February 5, 2019:
Ooltewah Elementary School welcomes their new principal this week as Dr. Frank Fischel assumes the role at the school. Fischel is focused on the success of young children and looks forward to providing an atmosphere of growth for the children of the Ooltewah community. “I have worked in a lot of different educational atmospheres, but I sincerely love to work in elementary schools,” Fischel said. “The youthful enthusiasm and excitement for learning that you see in the faces of elementary children is infectious and inspires me in my life and work.”
Fischel comes to Chattanooga from Flanders, New Jersey where he was principal at Mountain View Elementary from 2010 to 2018. Children enjoyed success at Mountain View as the school was the district's highest ranked school on the New Jersey Department of Education Report Card. The school was a top ten K-8 school in the country and first in math. He made children a part of the education experience by involving them in important decisions. Student-led research at Mountain View helped provide information to others on a vote to restructure the school playground and recess activities. Fischel also implemented School Way, a daily student performance communication to the community.
“I am a hands-on, high-energy consensus builder with all learning communities,” said Fischel. “I love building relationships as a principal by successfully “working” evolving plans with kids and teachers - joined by parents.”
As someone who has amassed over 40 years of education and administrative experience, Fischel has the qualities and qualifications desired by Ooltewah Elementary parents expressed in a new principal survey. Responses showed parents wanted a proven, experienced educator with strong leadership qualities. Fischel fits the leader described by parents as he previously served as superintendent of two different school districts. He has also served as a director of instructional improvement, assistant principal, coach, and teacher with most of his educational experience in Missouri and New Jersey. Also, Fischel makes a point to prioritize building relationships as a principal, something that was important on the survey to parents and teachers at Ooltewah Elementary. Fischel has earned both a masters and doctorate in education and a degree in special education.