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Seven Leaders Named to Hamilton County Partnership Network Advisory Board

State, district choose community members and advocates to advise path forward for key schools in Chattanooga
Wednesday, May 02, 2018 | 12:05pm

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen and Hamilton County Department of Education Director Bryan Johnson announced the members of the Hamilton County Partnership Network Advisory Board today. The advisory board will review the progress of the five schools in the Partnership Network – which have been deemed to be Priority schools by the state – and make recommendations to the Hamilton County Board of Education and Network leadership to support students’ growth and development.

The seven members, four of which were named by the state and three of which were named by the district, include a variety of community leaders, including those who have attended or who had family attend the schools in the Partnership Network. In addition to their passion for serving all kids, the diversity of the members’ backgrounds and experience will help to ensure the Partnership Network focuses on serving students’ needs both in and out of the classroom.

The Tennessee Department of Education’s appointments to the Partnership Network Advisory Board are Wayne Brown, Ardena Garth, Gerald Webb and Dakasha Winton. The Hamilton County Department of Education’s has appointed Valoria Armstrong, Patricia McKoy and Dr. Ernest L. Reid, Jr. Additional background on each member is below. After an orientation this summer, the advisory board’s first meeting will be open to the public this fall. Commissioner McQueen will appoint a chair of the board from her appointees prior to the first public meeting.

“The backgrounds and expertise of these seven leaders will enrich our Partnership Network schools and benefit the variety of ways in which we serve our students in Hamilton County’s highest-need schools,” Commissioner McQueen said. “We’re fortunate to have such talented and passionate leaders step up to advise our work in the Partnership Network.”

“I am looking forward to continuing to work with Commissioner McQueen and our new Partnership Network Advisory Board members as we continue to cast a vision for improvement in Hamilton County,” added Director Johnson. “This is another way we are leading in thoughtful and innovative partnerships on behalf of our students, and the board members will push us even further.”

The Partnership Network is a school improvement intervention that pairs both the Tennessee Department of Education and the Hamilton County Department of Education to create better conditions for success in Hamilton County’s persistently low-performing schools. It is one of several new school improvement options under the state’s plan to transition to the new federal K-12 education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Earlier this year, the Hamilton County Board of Education voted to move forward and enter into a formal agreement with the state to move the district’s five Priority schools – those that are in the bottom five percent of schools in the state in terms of academic achievement – into a Partnership Network starting in the 2018-19 school year.

The Partnership Network schools sit within the district’s Opportunity Zone, allowing for improved alignment across the district’s initiatives to better support the lowest performing schools. The advisory board’s role is to provide heightened transparency and make recommendations on the performance of the five Partnership Network schools to the Network leadership, which is embedded within the district. Additionally, the state will be hiring a full-time Partnership Network facilitator to provide an additional feedback loop to the state and work with the advisory board and district leadership on recommendations.

More information about the Partnership Network Advisory Board members:

Valoria Armstrong

Ms. Armstrong is president of Tennessee American Water Co. She has a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from Georgia Southern University and masters of science in human resource development from Villanova University. She was the first woman and youngest president elected to lead the local chapter of NAACP, which she did from 2005 to 2012. She also has served as chairwoman of the Chattanooga chapter of the American Cancer Society, and she has been actively involved in the Chattanooga chapter of the Society of Human Resources Management, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellors' Diversity Advisory Council, and the Volkswagen Diversity Council.

Wayne Brown

Mr. Brown lives in the Woodmore community. His granddaughters attended Woodmore Elementary School and he has been involved in youth leadership programs with the City of Chattanooga, as well as being a member of the Tennessee PTA. He is a 30-year military veteran who retired from the United States Air Force as a chief master sergeant. He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a bachelor of biblical studies from Andersonville Theological Seminary.

Ardena Garth

Ms. Garth is a Hamilton County native who is currently a practicing attorney with her own law practice and the President of Chattanooga Endeavors. She previously served as special child abuse prosecutor and then spent 25 years as a public defender in Chattanooga. She graduated as valedictorian from Ooltewah High School, earned her bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University, and earned her J.D. at the University of Kansas before coming back to Chattanooga to practice law.

Patricia McKoy

Ms. McKoy is a retired educator, who served most of her career in the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE). Ms. McKoy helped to launch the Paideia model at Chattanooga School of Arts and Sciences, the school from which she retired in 2015.  She was part of the Public Education Foundation (PEF)/HCDE Leadership Fellows, Cohort 12. She earned a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. In addition, she was awarded a master’s degree from Tusculum College and education specialist degree from Tennessee Technological University.

Dr. Ernest L. Reid, Jr.

Dr. Reid is pastor of Second Missionary Baptist Church in Chattanooga. He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., where he obtained a B.A. in economics. Pastor Reid continued his education with graduate work at The Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union University, earning a master in divinity and going on to earn a doctorate there. He is also a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary, earning a master in theology with a concentration in ethics.

Gerald Webb

Mr. Webb is an alumnus of Woodmore Elementary School, Dalewood Middle School, and Brainerd High School. He was formerly a prosecutor in the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office and is now a partner and attorney at Speek, Webb, Turner & Newkirk. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University before earning his J.D. at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

Dakasha Winton

Ms. Winton is the chief government relations officer at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, also serving as associate general counsel. She is also the first vice chair of the board for the nonprofit Park Center in Nashville, which serves people who have mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. She graduated from Tennessee State University before earning her J.D. from the University of Memphis.  

For media inquiries for the Tennessee Department of Education, please contact Sara Gast at For media inquiries for the Hamilton County Department of Education, please contact Tim Hensley at