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The UT Leadership Academy has announced its class of fellows for the 2018–19 academic year. Now in its ninth year, the academy prepares talented educators from East Tennessee to become school principals. This year’s cohort includes educators from nine school districts—Anderson County, Blount County, Bristol City, Claiborne County, Jefferson County, Kingsport City, Lenoir City, Morgan County, and Union County.

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

Starting this August, 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 coursework and seminars with professors and expert practitioner partners learning the research and theory behind great school leadership.

The 2018-19 cohort of the Leadership Academy is composed of 12 fellows:

Beth Beeler—Claiborne County Schools

Beth Beeler has served as a fifth-grade teacher and speech language educator for Claiborne County Schools for several years. As a teacher and literacy leader at H. Y. Livesay Middle School, she has had a broad impact on instruction and student learning. She has a Bachelor of Science in education and a Master of Education in instructional leadership, both from Lincoln Memorial University.

Jacob Bellissimo—Jefferson County Schools

Jacob Bellissimo serves as assistant principal at Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson County Schools. He previously taught history and was leader of the school data team at Jefferson Middle School. He began his career in Hamblen County and is completing his fellowship as part of the Governor’s Academy of School Leadership. He has a Bachelor of Arts in history from Carson-Newman University and a Master of Science in education from the University of Tennessee.

Chad Deal—Anderson County Schools

Chad Deal currently serves as assistant principal at Clinton High School in Anderson County Schools. He previously taught social studies at both the high school and middle school level and served as the Social Studies Department chair at Clinton High School. He has a Bachelor of Science in secondary education and a Master of Arts in instructional leadership, both from Tennessee Technological University.

Melissa Graves—Union County Schools

Melissa Graves has served as a kindergarten teacher and district curriculum coach in the Union County Schools for several years. Before working in public education, she was the owner and director of a successful day care provider in Union County for more than 20 years. She has an Associate of Science in English and history from Pellissippi State Community College, a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies from East Tennessee State University, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University.

Emily Helphinstine—Kingsport City Schools

Emily Helphinstine currently serves as the district literacy coordinator for Kingsport City Schools. She previously worked as a literacy coach for the school system and a classroom teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Kingsport. She has a Bachelor of Science in elementary and early childhood education from Milligan College and a Master of Education in early childhood education from East Tennessee State University.

Suzanne Lewis—Kingsport City Schools

Suzanne Lewis has served as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher for several years at John Adams Elementary School in Kingsport City Schools. She has been a lead teacher for mathematics for the school system, and in 2018–19 will serve in the role of associate principal. Before beginning her career in public education, she worked for several years in the health care and technology industries. She has a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from East Tennessee State University.

Renee Loan—Lenoir City Schools

Renee Loan is a personalized learning facilitator for Lenoir City Schools, helping teachers integrate technology and differentiation strategies into their instruction. She previously served as a library media specialist in the same district. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and women’s studies from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Education in educational media and technology, also from ETSU.

Destiny McRee—Bristol Tennessee City Schools

Destiny McRee currently serves as a program assistant at Anderson Elementary School in Bristol Tennessee City Schools. She previously served in a variety of instructional and administrative roles in education, largely in Kingsport City Schools. She has a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education and a Master of Education in educational leadership and policy analysis, both from East Tennessee State University.

Misty Northrup—Morgan County Schools

Misty Northrup has served as the library media specialist at Sunbright School in Morgan County since 2011. Previously, she taught kindergarten and first grade at Sunbright School for more than 10 years. She has an Associate of Science in general studies from Roane State Community College, a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from Tennessee Technological University, and a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction, also from Tennessee Tech.

Judy Pearson—Blount County Schools

Judy Pearson is an assistant principal at Heritage Middle School in Blount County Schools. She has been a seventh-grade science teacher and spent more than 20 years teaching agricultural education in several East Tennessee high schools. She has a Bachelor of Science in agricultural education from Tennessee Technological University, a Master of Science in agricultural education from Purdue University, and an Educational Specialist degree in instructional leadership from Lincoln Memorial University.

Amy Pendleton—Claiborne County Schools

Amy Pendleton currently serves as assistant principal at Forge Ridge School in Claiborne County Schools. She previously served as an English language arts teacher in several grades and a half-time administrator at Forge Ridge. She has an Associate of Science in general studies from Walters State Community College, a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Lincoln Memorial University, and a Master of Arts in educational leadership from Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky.

Deidre Pendley—Bristol Tennessee City Schools

Deidre Pendley is a program assistant at Tennessee High School in Bristol Tennessee City Schools, where she also coordinates the LEAP grant program and previously served as a teacher and curriculum coach in high school mathematics. She has a Bachelor of Science in secondary mathematics education from the University of Nebraska, a Master of Arts in education from Tusculum College, and an Educational Specialist degree in administration from Lincoln Memorial University.

To complete the academy’s program, participants will lead an action research capstone project that integrates their learning across the many curricular areas of the academy, and compile an electronic portfolio documenting their learning and proficiency in school leadership.

Upon successful completion of the program, fellows are awarded a master’s or Education Specialist degree and will be eligible to earn a license to be a school principal in Tennessee.

CONTACT:

Jules Morris (865-719-7072 julesmo@utk.edu)