Garfield Adams To Head County Special Education; Former Normal Park Principal Blake Freeman To Work With Business And Industry

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hamilton County School officials said a search is underway to replace two longtime administrators who have retired.


Stacy Stewart has retired from Hamilton County Schools after 31 years of service. She retired as an assistant superintendent over human resources.  She began her career as a teacher at Signal Mountain and also served as an assistant principal and principal in several Hamilton County Schools.

A search for the new leader in the Human Resources Department will begin immediately with Penny Murray, a veteran in the Human Resources Department in Hamilton County, taking the reins of the department on an interim basis to continue the search for the very best teaching talent to work with our children.  Ms. Murray, Human Resources coordinator, has been with the system since 2011 and has extensive knowledge of the system and the human resources function, officials said.  She has worked in human resources for Sears, U.S. Express, EPB and for an independent contractor on site at Dupont.  


Margaret Abernathy, a longtime leader in special education has also retired after over 40 years in education. Ms. Abernathy began her career as a special education teacher and also served as assistant principal at Dalewood Middle and principal at Ooltewah Middle.  Garfield Adams, principal of Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge, Tn., will direct the efforts of special education for the system as the director of Exceptional Education. Mr. Adams began his career as a special education teacher in Knox County Schools in 2001.  He also served as an assistant principal, Small Learning Community (SLC) curriculum assistant and alternative program teacher in Oak Ridge Schools.  


Blake Freeman is not new to Hamilton County Schools but he will be moving into a new role designed to make sure graduates are prepared for success after graduation. Mr. Freeman, currently principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet School, will be charged with connecting with business and industry leaders in the Tennessee Valley to match future employment demands in the job market with educational programs available in Hamilton County Schools as the director of the Future Ready Institute.  Freeman has also held the positions of principal at Soddy Daisy Middle School and assistant principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet and at Orchard Knob Middle School.  He began his career as a teacher working with seventh, ninth and eleventh-grade teens at Loftis Middle School and Soddy Daisy High School. 


Mr. Freeman introduced Project Based Learning as the central focus of instruction while principal at Soddy Daisy Middle School.  The concept embraced the engagement of students in their learning with the creation of exhibit projects to showcase knowledge the children gained in the classroom.  The concept was so successful it led Mr. Freeman to Normal Park where he continued to develop the concept of creating a curriculum that incorporates science, math, language arts and social studies into Project Based Learning and Design Thinking.  He was asked to work with administrators and teachers district-wide to “Spread the Spark of Normal” across the school system. Mr. Freeman also hosted educators from across the country interested in the real-world learning experiences for children while at Soddy Daisy and Normal Park.

Carrie Willmore, assistant principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet, will move into the principal role at the school. Ms. Willmore has worked at Normal Park since 2015 as the assistant and has helping Freeman to develop the “Spark” found at Normal Park.  She has also been a language arts teacher at Normal Park working with seventh and eighth-graders.  During her years at the school, Ms. Willmore has served on the Normal Park leadership team and was a school-wide literacy leader and professional development leader. 


Shannon Moody will join the Hamilton team as director of research and accountability.  She has worked as a regional data analyst for the Tennessee Department of Education for the last five years and will use that experience to assist administrators and teachers in the analysis of state testing information to improve student learning.  Ms. Moody will also research successful academic programs across the state and nation to bring the best-of-the-best new instructional methods to Hamilton County for our children. Ms. Moody’s resume includes serving as recruitment manager for Teach for America and she began her career working with children as a special education teacher in the Atlanta area.  


“As we move forward in Hamilton County Schools, we will examine every staff opening and position to ensure that we are structured in the most effective manner to achieve our goal of being the fastest improving school district in Tennessee,” stated Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “We are a good school system but with a persistent examination of our how we serve children and teachers in our schools we can reach even greater levels of success as we prepare children to be high achievers in our classrooms and in life after graduation.”

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