Opportunity Zone Begins Effort To Transform 12 Low-Performing County Schools

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Hamilton County Department of Education announced the new Opportunity Zone team that officials said "will ensure every student is post-secondary ready."

The schools in this zone are: Brainerd High, The Howard School, East Lake Middle Academy, Dalewood Middle, Orchard Knob Middle, Barger Academy of Fine Arts, Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy, Clifton Hills Elementary, East Lake Elementary, Hardy Elementary, Orchard Knob Elementary, and Woodmore Elementary.

Supt. Bryan Johnson said, “The implementation of the Opportunity Zone shows the district and board commitment to becoming the fastest improving school system in Tennessee. This team will support school communities and ensure there is a focus on all students graduating post-secondary ready. We are excited about Ms. Levine’s leadership and the talents of this wonderful team of educators. We know they will make a positive impact on student lives and these school communities.”

The new Opportunity Zone leadership team includes:

·       Jill Levine, Chief of Opportunity Zone

·       Saunya Goss, Elementary Director

·       Dr. Zac Brown, Secondary Director

·       Debbie Rosenow, Coordinator of Literacy

·       Brandon Hubbard-Heitz, Literacy Coach (6-12 focus)

·       Denver Huffstutler, Coordinator of Math and Science

·       Anthony Goad, STEM Coach

·       Brenda Boyd, Behavior Specialist

·       Demetrius Wiley, Exceptional Education Supervisor

·       Celeste Walton, Exceptional Education Coach

Sauyna Goss has served as principal at Battle Academy prior to her new role as Elementary Director. She accepted the principal position in 2010, serving as an assistant principal at Westview Elementary from 2008-2010. Prior to that, Ms. Goss was the school psychologist and lead gifted teacher at Battle Academy. Her accomplishments as an administrator include playing an instrumental role in the Tennessee Department of Education’s Network for Educator Preparation Partnerships (NEPP), which leads to improve teacher effectiveness by working with universities to improve student teaching programs. Battle Academy was named a National Magnet School of Excellence and earned straight As in achievement during her tenure.

Current Battle Academy Assistant Principal Jesse Goins will take over the principal role at Battle.

Dr. Zac Brown has been serving as the assistant superintendent of School Operations. Prior to accepting that role in the spring of 2016, Dr. Brown served as principal of The Howard School from 2013-2016. He previously served as the principal at East Ridge High School from 2010-2013. Dr. Brown began his teaching career as a high school math teacher and wrestling coach at Rhea County High School. During his three years at Howard, Dr. Brown increased the graduation rate, created an English as a Second Language program, grew enrollment by over 200 students, and transitioned the school to a 1:1 (one student, one device) technology school.

“All of our students deserve a first-class education. I want to make a difference in this community, and being part of the Opportunity Zone makes that a possibility. Our students depend on us to get this right,” added Dr. Brown.

Officials said the new team and the rest of the Opportunity Zone "will work with the state Department of Education. Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen’s proposed Partnership will work within the HCDE Opportunity Zone."

Dr. Johnson said, “We look forward to learning how the partnership with the state might allow us to urgently support our students.”

“The state approved our Opportunity Zone budget last Sunday evening.  Over the course of this week, we urgently assembled an exceptional team of top educators to lead this critical work,” said Ms. Levine. Two community school coordinators as well as a human capital coordinator will be added in the near future as well.

An Opportunity Zone Community Kick Off Event will be announced soon. Officials said the event "will offer parents, educators, community members and students the chance to learn more about the Opportunity Zone and offer feedback on ways to make Hamilton County the fastest-improving district in the state."

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