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The Leadership Academy has announced its next class for the 2016–17 academic year. Now in its seventh year, the Leadership Academy is a collaboration between UT and Knox County Schools which prepares talented educators for becoming a school principal.

The full-time, intensive 15-month fellowship program is a part of the Center for Educational Leadership and housed in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

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

The 2016–17 class is composed of ten fellows:

Zachary Brewer currently serves as the technology pedagogy and content knowledge (TPaCK) coach at Corryton Elementary School. Brewer has also served as a teacher and technology coach at a K–12 international school in Chengdu, China, where he worked as a mentor teacher and integrated technology and the arts through creating movies. He has led a variety of professional development activities covering best teaching practices and technology for all K–5 staff in the Knox County Schools. Brewer holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from East Tennessee State University.

Jennifer Garrett works as a TPaCK coach at Sterchi Elementary School. She has taught at the third- and fifth-grade level for Knox County Schools. Garrett has held many leadership positions, including professional development leader for technology, Common Core, TEAM, and her grade level. Garrett has a bachelor’s in elementary education from Western Michigan University and is working on a master’s in teacher leadership from Lamar University.

Jason Harris is the assistant principal at A. L. Lotts Elementary. He has served as an administrative assistant at A. L. Lotts and Austin East High School. Harris has a Bachelor of Arts in pre-teaching and multicultural studies, and a master’s in curriculum and instruction, both from UT, and an Educational Specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University.

Sara Harris is an instructional coach at Bonny Kate Elementary School. Harris has served on the school’s building-level leadership team, grade-level department chairperson, a member of the system-wide portfolio development team, and a core coach state trainer. Harris has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Presbyterian College and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University.

Nathan Lynn is an athletic director and administrative assistant at Bearden High School. He has worked as system-wide professional development specialist in physical education and as an elementary physical education teacher. He has also been a lead teacher and served as a member of his building-level leadership team. Lynn has a Bachelor of Science in physical education and a master’s of education in educational leadership, both from Carson-Newman University.

Binta McClendon serves as an early literacy instructional coach at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy. She has held numerous leadership roles such as lead teacher, member of her building-level leadership team, and member of her school’s data team. McClendon holds a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from Tennessee State University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Carson-Newman University.

Meagan Miller is a numeracy coach at Green Magnet Academy. She has served on the Professional Development Council for the Tennessee Department of Education and the Standards Review Committee for grades 9–12 mathematics for the Tennessee State Board of Education. Miller has led many professional development activities such as TEAM/TAP training. She has a bachelor’s in mathematics from Gardner-Webb University and a master’s in educational leadership from Arkansas State University.

Jennifer Morrell is a seventh-grade mathematics teacher at Karns Middle School. Morrell has served as an instructional coach and numeracy coach in the Knox County Schools. Morrell has been a TEAM Professional Development Specialist for the district, where she provided instruction on the successful implementation of the elements of the TEAM rubric in the classroom. She has a bachelor’s in elementary education from King College and a master’s in mathematics from UT.

James Slay is a fifth-grade teacher at Inskip Elementary School. Slay has been a member of his building-level leadership team and has held the position of chair of the team twice in the past five years. He holds an associate’s degree in ministry from Ministry International Institute of Powell and a bachelor’s in elementary education from South College.

Denise Watts is a TPaCK coach at Austin-East Magnet High School. Watts has served as a member of the TAP Transition Committee, lead teacher, and system-wide PLC Leader in Accountable Talk. She has a bachelor’s in history and a master’s degree in theory and practice in teacher education, both from UT.

To complete the program, participants will lead a project that integrates their learning across the many curricular areas of the academy, including an electronic portfolio documenting proficiency in school leadership and a capstone presentation about the fifteen-month experience.

Upon successful completion of the program, fellows seeking to earn a principal’s license will take a state exam and receive their master’s, while fellows who already have their master’s will earn their education specialist degree.


Jules Morris (865-974-6638,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,