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Ten educators will be part of 2014—2015 cohort of the UT Leadership Academy.

Now in its fifth year, the Leadership Academy is a collaborative venture between UT and Knox County Schools that prepares talented individuals to become outstanding new school principals through a full-time, intensive fifteen-month fellowship program. The class will begin work May 30.

The Leadership Academy is part of the Center for Educational Leadership, housed in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

The fellows will spend four days a week working in a school with an experienced mentor principal. The fifth day will be spent in coursework and seminars with professors and expert practitioner partners.

To complete the program, students participate in a project that integrates their learning across the many curricular areas of the academy. Projects will include an electronic portfolio documenting the student’s proficiency in school leadership and a public presentation about the fifteen-month experience. Upon successful completion of the program, fellows will be awarded a master’s or education specialist degree.

The 2014—2015 class:

James Allen is dean of eleventh and twelfth grade small learning communities and a math teacher at West High School. He also is a lead teacher and mentor teacher, and a member of the leadership and data teams at the school.

Jekia Allen is a kindergarten teacher at A. L. Lotts Elementary School and has been an educator since 2004. She serves on the Knox County Schools strategic plan steering committee and the school system’s teacher advisory group.

Becky Williams Barnes is a first-grade teacher at West Haven Elementary School. She was selected as Teacher of the Year for her school in 2013 and 2015. Barnes currently serves as a board member in the fifth district for the Sevier County Board of Education.

Zachary Best is an assistant principal at Powell Middle School. He previously served as an assistant principal at Northwest Middle School and a theater arts teacher at Farragut High School.

Christopher Deal teaches fifth grade at Hardin Valley Elementary School and is a lead teacher. He previously was a teacher in North Carolina and Florida for eleven years.

Lori Johnson is an assistant principal at West Haven Elementary School. She previously was a TAP master teacher at Dogwood Elementary and a kindergarten lead teacher at Maynard Elementary.

Tenisha Marchbanks is a lead teacher at Bearden Middle School and was previously a teacher at Northwest Middle School.

Angela Messer is an instrumental music professional development specialist, associate director of bands, and TAP master teacher at Carter High School. Messer began her teaching career in 1997 at Whittle Springs Middle School.

Stephanie Prince is a fourth-grade teacher at Brickey-McCloud Elementary School. She has been a teacher since 2006 at both Brickey-McCloud and Rocky Hill Elementary Schools.

Michelle Wolfenbarger is a TAP master teacher at Ritta Elementary School. She previously was an instructional coach at the school. She has been teaching since 2001 and has served at Adrian Burnett Elementary, Carter Elementary, and Holston Middle Schools.

For photos and more information about the fellows, visit the Knox County Schools website.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,

Melissa Ogden (594-1905,