Bryan Stewart may have two buildings, but he has only one school.
East Brainerd Elementary has grown so large it now occupies two campuses, one at the old building on East Brainerd Road and another at the former David Brainerd private school about two miles away on Igou Gap Road. Despite the distance, Stewart, East Brainerd's principal of seven years, says he strives for unity among his students and faculty.
"It's not like it was when we were in one building," he said. "We all know that we are maybe two different schools but we are the same professional learning community."
It is perhaps this ability to juggle the two buildings effectively that led Stewart's fellow principals to choose him as Hamilton County's Principal of the Year.
"He can absolutely meet the mark. I think he's going to do whatever it takes to make sure those buildings are managed effectively. I certainly think he has the wherewithal and capacity to do that," said Aimee Randolph, current principal at Thrasher Elementary School who will move into a central office position this summer.
Robert Sharpe, Hamilton County's assistant superintendent for education and leadership support, said Stewart handled the growing school admirably.
"He is very focused on the quality of education for all of his students and that shows in the results that come out of East Brainerd," Sharpe said.
Though hampered by the need to travel between campuses, Stewart maintains a hands-on approach to managing the school, working closely with all teachers and making a point to visit classrooms throughout the day.
Stewart said he wants to teach students how to think. And much of that begins with reading.
"If we teach them to read and write, then they can accomplish anything," he said.
Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592.