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Kingsport school official a finalist for posts in Cookeville, Alaska

CHRISTAN M. THOMAS • Feb 2, 2007 at 10:15 AM

KINGSPORT - Her ultimate goal is to lead a school system, and Nancy Wagner, Kingsport City Schools' assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, is being considered for two positions that would allow her to do just that.

Wagner confirmed that she has been named a finalist for two separate superintendent positions - one in Putnam County and one in Fairbanks, Alaska.

"My career goal is to be a superintendent," Wagner said. "I would like to lead a school system, and I would like to make a positive difference in the education of our young people.

"I can do that in the position I'm in, absolutely. I love my position here. It's a great place to work. I'm not looking because I'm dissatisfied with where I am. That (becoming a superintendent) has been a goal of mine, and it just seemed like good timing."

Wagner said she has had great experiences throughout her career in education. She started out as a teacher and cheerleading coach in Sullivan County and also served as principal of Science Hill High School, K-12 curriculum supervisor and a secondary level supervisor for Johnson City Schools. She has been in her current post with Kingsport City Schools since 2001.

Wagner said she had also applied for a few superintendent positions last year but was looking for the perfect fit.

"When you're interested in doing something like this, you are trying to find the right opportunity," Wagner said. "Whenever you're superintendent, it has to be a perfect match - you have to be what they want, and they have to be what you want."

Both positions for which she is currently being considered have different strengths, Wagner said.

In Putnam County, Wagner is one of three remaining candidates for director of schools. Wagner said the next round of interviews should be conducted later this month, and the county's board of education is expected to vote on a new director at its March 1 meeting.

"Putnam County was appealing to me because I like the small-town atmosphere," Wagner said. "The central office is in Cookeville, but the system serves the whole county. It's not too large. It's about 10,500 students. ... Overall it's a very good school system, and I think it would be a good match for me."

In Fairbanks, Alaska, Wagner said she is one of four finalists for the job. She said she recently had a phone interview and will be flown out for a tour of the system and another round of interviews in the next few weeks.

Though Alaska may seem far from home for East Tennessee native Wagner, she said the beauty of the land and the people in Alaska are a big draw.

"My husband and I visited Alaska a couple of years ago and just fell in love with the beauty of the land and the people we met," Wagner said. "When I saw this opportunity, I thought that it would be exciting. It would be a challenge. It would be an opportunity and an adventure all in one package. ... I did a lot of research on the school system, and the more I did the better I felt about that particular opportunity."

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