Hamilton County Schools announce new superintendent finalists


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Hamilton County Schools will soon see a new superintendent.

The search process is well underway with 14 finalists announced. Out of the 14 candidates, a couple have a business background but the majority have experience as educators. The candidates are Dr. Andre White, Dr. Kirk Kelly, Dr. Alan Coverstone, Dr. Arthur Wayne Johnson, Dr. Bryan Johnson, Kevin Gaffney, Natalie Elder, Stuart Greenberg, Verna Ruffin, Dr. Clifford Davis, Dr. Nakia Edwards, Dr. Natasha Baker, Dr. Timothy Gadson, III, and Jack Elsey, Jr.

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Steve Highlander, the Hamilton County School Board chairman, hopes the superintendent will be named well before the 2017 to 2018 school year, but says the process won’t be rushed.

“It is much better to do it properly than to do it fast. But I am hoping by the end of May, perhaps to have someone for sure by the end of June to have a permanent person in place. That is my hope and you can’t really give a definitive timeline, because we don’t know how people are going to react, how the board members and how the applicants are going to react,” Highlander said.

Last year UnifiEd held ten meetings to find out what people want to see in the next superintendent.

“What we did hear is that they want a former educator. Actually I believe 100 percent of our meetings concluded that they would like an educator or a former teacher to be the next superintendent,” said Jonas Barriere, executive director of UnifiEd.

Highlander says if you want to give your input on what you would like to see in a superintendent, contact the school board member in your district.

An outside company assisted with the search. Here is a link to the job description.

Below is a description of what the 14 candidates are doing now:

  • Kirk Kelly: Interim superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. Kelly has worked for 35 years in Chattanooga City and Hamilton County Schools. He worked as the assistant superintendent for accountability and testing, before being selected to serve as interim superintendent.
  • Natalie Elder: A former Hamilton County principal and the current director of school improvement and professional development for Stamford Public School System in Connecticut.
  • Jack Elsey, Jr.: Chief Schools Officer for the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan.
  • Timothy Gadson III: Superintendent designee and executive director of curriculum and schools for Robbinsdale Area Schools in Minnesota.
  • Kevin Gaffney: Principal and founder of the Gaffney Consulting Group in Chattanooga.
  • Bryan Johnson: Chief Academic Officer for Clarksville-Montgomery County School System in Tennessee.
  • Arthur Wayne Johnson: Founder and chairman of First Performance Corporation.
  • Natasha Baker: State School Reform Officer for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
  • Alan Coverstone: Assistant Professor of education and director of graduate programs in education at Belmont University.
  • Clifford Davis, Jr.: Chief of Staff for Knox County Schools.
  • Nakia Towns Edwards: Assistant Commissioner in the Data and Research Division of the Tennessee Department of Education.
  • Verna Ruffin: Superintendent of Jackson-Madison County Schools in Tennessee since 2013.
  • Andre Wright: Learning Community Director for Aurora Public Schools in Colorado.
  • Stuart Greenberg: Chief Academic Officer for Leon County Public Schools in Florida.