Ten Metro schools get new principals for 2014-15
As the school year wraps up, Metro Schools officials are already preparing for Wed., August 6 when the next school year begins. That includes naming ten principals to new assignments in elementary and middle schools. These experienced leaders were chosen through a new process using rigorous criteria, role playing and evidence of candidates’ skills and results.
“Each principal was carefully selected for assignment based on individual skills and strengths. Those skills match well with the specific needs of the schools,” said Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele. “Like all decisions we make in Metro Schools, these hires were made with a strict focus on achievement and what is best for the students at each school.”
The district used its “new leader” process to select principals. Candidates submitted their applications and then completed assignments centered around their personal beliefs about education. The four-part process includes a rigorous screening in step one, scoring against criteria in step two, a panel interview, a case study and role-playing in step three, and a reference check in step four.
The principals and their assignments are:
- Chadwell Elementary School – Elnora Mitchell-Furdge
- Cole Elementary School – Dr. Darwin Mason, Sr.
- Goodlettsville Middle School – Dr. Jill Pittman
- Granbery Elementary School – Chad High
- Margaret Allen Middle Prep – Kisha Cox
- Henry Maxwell Elementary School – Dr. Darwin Mason, Jr.
- McKissack Middle Prep – Darren Kennedy
- Pennington Elementary School – Jackie Kinzer
- Stratton Elementary School – Renita Perkins
- West End Middle Prep – Dr. Craig Hammond
About the Principals
Chadwell Elementary School – Elnora Mitchell-Furdge
Ms. Mitchell-Furdge brings 15 years of teaching, administration and leadership experience to Chadwell. She has been with Metro Schools for two of those years after working her way up from teacher to principal to chief financial officer in the Helena/West Helena School District in Arkansas. She earned three degrees from Arkansas State University: a bachelor’s in business education, a master’s in education and an education specialist’s degree in administration.
Cole Elementary School – Dr. Darwin Mason, Sr.
Dr. Mason comes to Cole Elementary after a year serving as dean of instruction at LEAD Academy Middle School. Prior to his one year at LEAD, he spent 22 years in classrooms and offices of Metro elementary, middle and high schools. He served as assistant principal at Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School, and has also led Maplewood High, Gra-Mar Middle and Whitsitt Elementary as executive principal. Dr. Mason earned his bachelor’s in education from Chicago State University, has a master’s in administration and supervision from Tennessee State, and a doctorate in leadership, policy and organization from Vanderbilt. His son will soon also be a principal in Metro Schools (see below).
Goodlettsville Middle School – Dr. Jill Pittman
Since coming to Metro Schools from Florida in 2006, Dr. Pittman has brought fresh success to the schools she’s led through strong academic growth and building community support. As principal of J.T. Moore Middle Prep, Dr. Pittman grew parent engagement to new levels and led achievement gains that exceeded expectations. This year, Dr. Pittman served as principal of Overton High School’s Academy of Information Technology. She doubled the number of business partners there while also making big gains in literacy. Dr. Pittman earned her bachelor’s degree in foreign language education from the University of Georgia. She holds a Ph.D. in education policy and governance from Tennessee State University as well as a master’s in education leadership and administration from Georgia Southern.
Granbery Elementary School – Chad High
Mr. High has been steeped in Metro Schools since birth. He is the son of two Metro educators and attended Metro schools K-12, graduating from Overton High School in 1995. He has also taught in Metro elementary schools for his entire career, moving from Donelson to Hattie Cotton and eventually serving as assistant principal and principal at Cole. He returns to the Overton Cluster as principal of Granbery Elementary School. He holds a master’s in education administration and supervision and a bachelor’s in elementary education, both from Lipscomb University.
Margaret Allen Middle Prep – Kisha Cox
As assistant principal at Margaret Allen, Ms. Cox helped preside over the academic gains that led to the school earning Reward School status from the Tennessee Department of Education. That includes a double-digit jump in math scores from 2011-12 to 2012-13. Ms. Cox is a member of the Principal’s Leadership Academy of Nashville, a program with Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education to build great leaders for Metro Schools. Before Margaret Allen, she served as assistant principal at I.T. Creswell Arts Magnet Middle Prep. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and sociology from Fisk University, a master’s of education administration from Tennessee State and an education specialist degree, also from Tennessee State.
Henry Maxwell Elementary School – Dr. Darwin Mason, Jr.
In what could be the first case of concurrent father-son principals in Metro Schools, Dr. Darwin Mason, Jr. is taking the reins at Maxwell Elementary. This marks a return to teaching in Metro after a brief period at the private Ensworth School and Poplar Grove Elementary in the Franklin Special School District. Dr. Mason is an expert in proper use of data to improve instruction, as well as implementation of Response to Intervention, the statewide plan for literacy growth with struggling readers. He has a doctorate in learning organizations and strategic change from Lipscomb University, a master’s in administration and supervision from Tennessee State and a bachelor’s in music and psychology from Fisk University.
McKissack Middle Prep – Darren Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy is a veteran teacher, administrator and behavior specialist. In his varied career, he has worked every position from classroom teacher to police officer to assistant principal. He has a proven track record in managing students, student behavior and highly effective teaching. He has worked in Metro’s central office, as well as at Maplewood and Whites Creek High Schools. He has a bachelor’s in journalism from Howard University and a master’s in education administration and supervision from Tennessee State University.
Pennington Elementary School – Jackie Kinzer
Ms. Kinzer joins Pennington Elementary from Bordeaux Elementary, which is now an Early Learning Center for prekindergarten. Under her leadership, Bordeaux Elementary thrived as a warm and creative space for children to learn. She built strong parent and community support and fostered a school climate students are expected to prepare for college and career. She has worked in Metro Schools as a teacher and a principal for almost thirty years. She holds a bachelor’s in early childhood education and a master’s in education administration, both from Tennessee State University.
Stratton Elementary School – Renita Perkins
Ms. Perkins joins Stratton from Chadwell Elementary School where she led a remarkable turnaround, moving the school into good standing under the state’s accountability system in just two years. Chadwell has seen double-digit improvements in students’ reading and math achievement during her tenure. She is a Common Core expert, serving as a trainer for Metro principals. She has a bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s and specialist’s degrees in administration and supervision, all earned at Tennessee State University.
West End Middle Prep – Dr. Craig Hammond
Dr. Hammond brings the perfect kind of experience to West End Middle Prep. As head of school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme at Hillsboro High School, he increased ACT scores and boosted participation in IB. Now moving into a Hillsboro feeder school with its own IB program, Dr. Hammond knows exactly what students need to succeed when moving from middle to high school. He is an educational leader in Tennessee, serving as a Common Core coach, textbook commissioner, leadership advisor, adjunct professor and more. He holds a bachelor’s in education history and a master’s in administration and supervision, both from Lipscomb University. He earned his doctorate in leadership and professional practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.