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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 earned by demonstrating 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.

Eligibility & Selection Process

A Principal of the Year Nominee must:

  • have a minimum of five (5) years of professional experience in public schools.;
  • have a minimum of three (3) years 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 POY Nomination Form

The 2020-21 nomination deadline is Feb. 28, 2020.


  • 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 2019-20 Timeline

Dates Process
By 12 p.m. CT 
Feb. 28
Directors of schools (or their designees) submit the nomination form for Principal of the Year (POY)
March 2 Department sends nominees the link to the POY application
By 5 p.m. CT on  April 1 POY nominees submit application online.
April A panel of independent reviewers with representatives from each CORE region selects one principal from each CORE region and the Shelby County-Municipals group to advance as a finalist to the interview stage
July Announcement of the nine Principal of the Year finalists
August Interviews held at the Andrew Johnson Tower in Nashville
Fall 2020 Supervisor of the Year and Principal of the Year recognition banquet in Nashville

Past Recipients

Year Principal School School System
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
Year Principal School School System
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