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Three Hawkins principals among 52 inaugural members of Haslam's Rural Principal Network

Jeff Bobo • Sep 28, 2018 at 7:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Three principals from the Hawkins County school system have been chosen to be among 52 school administrators to participate in Gov. Bill Haslam’s new Tennessee Rural Principal Network (TRPN).

St. Clair Elementary’s Mary Ann Davis, Church Hill Middle’s Scott Jones and McPheeters Bend Elementary’s Renee Bernard were recently notified that they have been selected for the inaugural class, which has its first meeting Oct. 2.

TRPN is a part of Haslam’s Transforming School Leadership initiative, which is a comprehensive approach to improve the preparation, retention and development of Tennessee’s principals.

Administrators chosen for this program will receive funding to attend five conferences and other networking opportunities.

Scott Jones

Jones told the Times News Thursday that as an inaugural member he looks forward to addressing the professional development of administrators in rural districts.

“The state is proactively setting up collaboration with principals of similar demographic districts to the benefit of the students,” Jones said. “Training opportunities spread throughout the 2018-19 school year will accompany the collaboration. For me, I hope that my professional development through this initiative will bring results to teachers as they engage students; and students that enable them to be successful as they develop and take ownership of their learning.”

Jones added, “To be chosen as one of the 52 inaugural members of the Tennessee Rural Principals Network is a huge honor. For me, to have the opportunity to come alongside colleagues from across the state who face similar challenges brings with it a sense of the right kind of pride and a hope to represent well. It appears that the state is looking to develop leaders in rural areas and to afford them the opportunities to bring back that learning to their respective districts.”

Mary Ann Davis

Davis told the Times News Thursday she looks forward to meeting other principals from across the state and share best practices that relate to leading an effective rural school.

“You never know what great things are happening in other systems until you come together and collaborate,” Davis said. “It is an honor to be selected to be a part of the 52 principals from across the state. I am eager to meet the other principals and see what the network has to offer us.”

Davis believes she was chosen due to St. Clair’s rural location combined with the school’s high academic achievement.

“When completing the application for the selection, there were questions that related to our current school about scores and our school’s location," Davis said. “St. Clair is a Level 5 school and is located in the heartland of a small farming community, and is also a blended learning school, which gives us the advantages to be one to one with technology devices.”

Renee Bernard

McPheeters Bend is also a rural school with a history of high academic achievement and state recognition under Bernard’s leadership.

In 2015, the school’s faculty and students were honored for ranking second in the state among 765 elementary schools for academic growth. Bernard and her staff were recognized in 2014 as the first place winner of the Value-Added Achievement Award in Tennessee’s Eastern Division in the elementary schools category, and in 2013 it placed second statewide.

What is the TRPN?

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen noted that TRPN is “an innovative approach to meet the unique needs of school leaders in our rural communities and allow them to grow professionally and learn from one another to ultimately benefit our students.”

“It is gratifying to see the state address the unique needs of rural schools and provide administrators with the opportunity to be a part of ongoing professional development designed to impact student achievement in rural settings,” said Hawkins County Schools Assistant Director Beth Holt.

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