Residents of Lookout Valley irked by elementary principal move

Residents of Lookout Valley irked by elementary principal move

June 4th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Local Regional News

Rick Smith, Hamilton County schools superintendent, talks in this file photo.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

POLL: Should Regina Brock stay at Lookout Valley Elementary?

Lookout Valley Elementary School principal Regina Brock, left, and Lookout Valley Middle/High School principal Rick Rushworth showcase the new mural in honor of the school mascot, the yellow jacket.

Photo by Katie Ward

IF YOU GO

The Lookout Valley Neighborhood Association is calling a meeting with school officials at 7 p.m. Thursday at the John A. Patten Recreation Center, 3202 Kelly's Ferry Road, to try and keep Regina Brock as the principal of Lookout Valley Elementary School.

Jerry Walls says Lookout Valley Elementary regularly draws short straws from the school system, and he and other residents are tired of it.

Walls is president of the Lookout Valley Neighborhood Association, and the group plans to meet with Hamilton County Schools officials at 7 p.m. Thursday to try and keep Regina Brock at the elementary school's helm.

Schools Superintendent Rick Smith announced in May that Brock was being moved to Thrasher Elementary on Signal Mountain. She was one of a dozen Hamilton County principals receiving new assignments.

Alison Taylor, assistant principal at Nolan Elementary, is scheduled to take over for Brock.

Walls said he's heard good things about Taylor, but Lookout Valley has had six principals in 12 years. The school is craving stability, he said.

The problem, according to Walls, is that Lookout Valley is "last on the totem pole" among schools in the county. It's been that way for all of the nearly 60 years he's lived there, Walls said.

"Anytime somebody else in the school system needs a good principal, they reach over here and take ours," Walls said.

Walls hopes Joe Galloway, who represents Lookout Valley on the Hamilton County Board of Education, and Smith will hear the residents' message.

Galloway said Monday he would attend the neighborhood's meeting to explain the process the school system uses for placing principals and to hear from residents.

"We're losing a good one out here, but we're getting a good one, too. ... I'm in full support of the move," Galloway said.

Because Lookout Valley Elementary is a relatively small school, having only 325 students, Galloway said it provides mobility for upcoming principals.

VIDEO

This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

"It's taking a lady who's been an assistant principal and giving her the opportunity to be an excellent leader," Galloway said. "... [Smith's] goal is to have 77 excellent principals in Hamilton County."

To Commissioner Joe Graham, who represents District 6 on the County Commission, that sounds like Lookout Valley Elementary is used as a "training school," and he doesn't like it.

"It seems like all the principals we've had have been trainee principals," Graham said Monday. "The size of our school should have no bearing on how we're treated."

Graham said if Taylor does replace Brock, he hopes she stays put for a while. Elementary school is an important time for pupils, he said.

"If you can't train them in [elementary school], they aren't going to succeed in middle or high school -- they are not going to succeed in the real world," Graham said.

Superintendent Smith did not return phone calls for comment Monday.

Sandy Hughes, president of the Hamilton County Education Association, said she couldn't specifically comment on the Lookout Valley Elementary situation, but principals are routinely "changed to match the right principal with the right building."

She said she always has trusted school officials because they have more information about personnel moves than the general public.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.