Principal of the Year
Each year an outstanding public school principal earns distinction as the Tennessee Department of Education Principal of the Year (POY). This honor is reserved for school leaders
who demonstrate superior abilities in:
- managing and motivating students and faculties;
- evoking high standards;
- demonstrating a commitment to excellence;
- implementing innovative programs; and
- having a track record of exceptional gains in student learning.
The winner is honored annually at the Principal and Supervisor of the Year Banquet.
2020-21 Principal of the Year
The 2020-21 Tennessee Principal of the Year is Dr. Leneda Laing of Cleveland City Schools.
As a first-generation college graduate, Dr. Leneda Laing developed a passion for the education profession at an early age. Her parents instilled a love of school and a desire to be the best that she could be. After her first day of first grade, she declared to her parents that she was going to become a teacher. She followed her high school assistant principal’s advice which was to get a teaching degree in mathematics because she would always be employable. She began her teaching career in the elementary school she attended and for over twenty years taught middle school mathematics. Her love of teaching mathematics resulted in her being awarded the Presidential Award for Teaching Mathematics. Further evidence of her passion for mathematics was her willingness to undergo the rigorous application procedure for national board certification. In 2006, Dr. Laing became a nationally board-certified teacher in the area of early adolescent mathematics. After two decades of teaching math, she transitioned into administration as a mathematics coordinator at Cleveland Middle School. During this time Dr. Laing developed a desire for training teachers and school leadership. An outgrowth of this stage of her career led to an interest in full school leadership resulting in her being both an assistant principal and principal at Cleveland Middle School. Dr. Laing’s love for education has guided her many career aspirations, however the most significant accomplishment in her varied career is when she sees a student’s excitement after reaching an educational milestone.
Benefits of Participating in the Tennessee Prinicipal of the Year Program
What are the benefits to principals?
By participating in the Tennessee Principal of the Year program, school leaders have the opportunity to:
· be celebrated and honored for making exceptional gains with students,
· expand knowledge of education policy and participate in local, state, and national policy discussions,
· serve on state-level committees and consult on department initiatives,
· act as a spokesperson and advocate for the education profession, and
· become inducted into an amazing network of statewide awardees, and become connected to an impactful, ongoing body of work that engages you as a professional long after an awardee’s service year.
What are the benefits to schools and districts?
By participating in the Tennessee Principal of the Year program, districts and schools have the opportunity to:
· attract local, state, and national attention,
· allow the district’s honorees to serve as a voice for the education profession, thus elevating the district and attracting educators and leaders to the district, and
· celebrate excellence in education by honoring hard working, successful school leaders.
What does the Tennessee Principal of the Year do?
· Respond to and fulfill Tennessee Principal of the Year speaking requests, presentations, etc.
· Share their expertise with the department.
· Identify and advocate for educational issues.
Eligibility & Selection Process
A Principal of the Year Nominee must:
- have a minimum of three (3) years of professional experience in public schools.;
- have a minimum of one (1) year of experience as a principal; and
- at all levels of recognition, must be employed as a principal in a Tennessee public school system.
Directors of schools will nominate one principal from each district using the online Principal and Supervisor of the Year Nomination Form.
The 2020-21 nomination deadline is Jan. 31, 2021.
- Beginning in April, a panel of independent reviewers with representatives from each CORE region convene to score written applications submitted by each nominee. Application scores are averaged to select nine finalists, one from each CORE region and the Shelby County-Municipals group.
- Each finalist’s school must lie within the boundaries of the CORE area that he or she is chosen to represent.
- Finalists will be notified of their status by July.
- In August, the nine finalists progress to the interview stage of the selection process.
- The Grand Division winners and the Tennessee Principal of the Year are selected by combining each nominee’s average application score and average interview score.
Projected 2020-21 Timeline
|By 11:59 p.m. CT
|Directors of schools (or their designees) submit the nomination form for Principal of the Year (POY).|
|Feb. 1||Department sends nominees the link to the electronic Principal of the Year application.|
|March 14||Principal of the Year nominees submit part I application online.|
|April 14||Department sends region-level semi-finalists the link to the electronic Principal of the Year part II application.|
|By 11:59 p.m. CT on June 1||Principal of the Year region-level semi-finalists submit part II application online.|
|June||A panel of independent reviewers with representatives from each CORE region selects one principal from each CORE region and the Shelby County-Municipals region to advance as a finalist to the interview process.|
Announcement of the nine Principal of the Year finalists
Interviews held for the nine Principal of the Year finalists
|Fall 2021||Supervisor of the Year and Principal of the Year recognition banquet in Nashville|
- Part I Application: This document contains all questions listed in the electronic application. Districts are encouraged to use this document as a foundation for their own district-level Principal of the Year applications. Applicants are encouraged to use this document to draft and revise application responses prior to submitting via the online form.
- Part II Application: This document contains all questions listed in the electronic application. Applicants are encouraged to use this document to draft and revise application responses prior to submitting via the online form.
- Application Guidance: This document contains tips and tricks for how to improve your Tennessee Principal of the Year application. While referencing this document will not guarantee a successful outcome in the selection process, this document is useful for refining your responses to ensure they align to the application prompts.
|2020-21||Leneda Laing||Cleveland Middle School||Cleveland City Schools|
|2019-20||LeAndrea Ware||The Howard School||Hamilton County Schools|
|2018-19||Vicki Shipley||Munford Middle School||Tipton County Schools|
|2017-18||Robin Copp||Ooltewah High School||Hamilton County|
|2016-17||Docia Generette-Walker||Middle College High School||Shelby County Schools|
|2015-16||Peggy Greene||Ridgeview Elementary School||Washington County Schools|
|2014-15||Ronald Hughes||Apison Elementary School||Hamilton County Schools|
|2013-14||Martha Fisher||Cascade Elementary School||Bedford County Schools|
|2012-13||Jane Winter||Minglewood Elementary||Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools|
|2011-12||Rita White||Riverwood Elementary||Memphis City Schools|
|2010-11||Tim Setterlund||Collierville High School||Shelby County Schools|
|2009-10||Janice Womble||Deery Eakin Primary School||Bedford County Schools|
|2008-09||Warner Ross||Bolivar Middle School||Hardeman County Schools|
|2007-08||Scott Owens||Rhea Elementary School||Paris Special Schools|
|Margaret McKissick-Larry||Avon Lenox School||Memphis City Schools|
|2006-07||Catherine Battle||Snowden School||Memphis City Schools|
|2005-06||Rhonda Kennedy||Hazelwood Elementary School||Clarksville-Montgomery County|
|2004-05||Philip L. Kiper||Bledsoe County Middle School||Bledsoe County Schools|
|2003-04||Deborah Alexander||Kingston Elementary School||Roane County Schools|
|2002-03||Robbie Robinson McGowan||Mooreland Heights Elementary School||Knox County Schools|
|2001||Dr. Julie Williams||Hunters Lane Comprehensive High School||Metro/Davidson County Schools|
|R. Michael Landis||West Middle School||Tullahoma City Schools|
|Virginia McNeal||Alton Elementary School||Memphis City Schools|
|2000||Tommy Everette||Karns High School||Knox County Schools|
|Jerry McNabb||Jasper Middle School||Marion County Schools|
|Mickey Hatcher||Unicoi Elementary School||Unicoi County Schools|
|1999||David L. Daniel||Loretto High School||Lawrence County Schools|
|Donna C. Trevathan||Warren County Middle School||Warren County Schools|
|Julia Price||Alpha Elementary School||Hamblen County Schools|
|1998||James David Heath||Brentwood High School||Williamson County Schools|
|Tom L. Barnard||New Providence Middle School||Clarksville-Montgomery County|
|Sue Carmichael||Bon DeCroft Elementary School||White County Schools|
|1997||John W. Snider||Dyer County High School||Dyer County Schools|
|Elbert Milton Ross||East Middle School||Metro/Davidson County Schools|
|Peggy C. Willocks||Harold McCormick Elementary School||Elizabethton City Schools|
|1996||Dr. Martha Glover||McNairy Central High School||McNairy County Schools|
|James A. Sawyers||DuPont Middle School||Metro/Davidson County Schools|
|David Moore||Delano Elementary School||Memphis City Schools|
|1995||Vicki Dunaway||Powell High School||Knox County Schools|
|Carolyn R. McPherson||John Sevier Middle School||Kingsport City Schools|
|Kay Awalt||Moore Elementary School||Franklin Special School District|
|1994||Joe Yeager||Page High School||Williamson County Schools|
|Donald Allen Rogers||Unicoi County Middle School||Unicoi County Schools|
|Dr. Brenda T. Gulledge||Highland Elementary School||Greeneville City Schools|
|1993||Shirley Rose Ellis||Hampton High School||Carter County Schools|
|Dr. Samuel Humphreys||University School||Washington County Schools|
|Dr. Jim Luckey||Idlewild Elementary School||Memphis City Schools|
|1991||A. D. Hancock||Hunters Lane High School||Metro/Davidson County Schools|
|Thomas W. Hayes||Robertsville Junior High School||Oak Ridge City Schools|
|Ben K. Wilson||Ingleside Elementary School||Athens City Schools|