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Five new principals named to local schools

New principals have been named to five Hamilton County Schools.

The district on Thursday announced appointments to Allen Elementary, Calvin Donaldson Elementary, East Hamilton School, Lookout Valley Elementary and Lookout Valley Middle/High.

"Retirements at the end of this school year mean some of our veteran principals are ending a distinguished career," according to a news release from Hamilton County Schools. "However, appointments announced today for five of the schools in Hamilton County tap experienced school leaders to continue the upward trend in academic success. In selecting candidates for these leadership positions, district administrators considered characteristics and experience preferences provided by teachers, staff, and parents — through feedback from community surveys — in the selection process."

Chris Tillett, currently a principal in Huntington County, Ind., will take over at Allen Elementary. Tillett has been a principal since 2004 and was a third-grade teacher before moving into administration. He also served as technology coordinator and webmaster while teaching third-grade. Tillett earned a bachelor's degree from Anderson University, and he has advanced degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Rose Odom, another new addition to the district, will assume the principalship at Calvin Donaldson Elementary. Odom also comes to Hamilton County Schools with principal experience, having led Memphis College Prep in Memphis, since 2016. Before her time in Memphis, Odom worked as a math strategist in Clark County School District in Las Vegas. She led the faculty at Laura Dearing Elementary to increase student achievement in mathematics from 16th to a fourth place ranking in the district's performance zone. Odom developed an afterschool initiative for fourth- and fifth-grade girls to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Odom's career in the classroom spanned time in Las Vegas, California, and Georgia. Odom has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University, and advanced degrees from National University and Western Governor's University.

Brent Eller will leave Loftis Middle to lead the East Hamilton School program. He served as principal at Loftis for six years with another four years of experience as principal at Ooltewah Middle School. Eller was an assistant principal at East Ridge Middle, Brown Middle and Loftis Middle from 2004-2009. His experience as a teacher in the classroom includes tenures at The Howard School and Hixson Middle School. Eller earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a master's from Tennessee Tech.

Lookout Valley Elementary will welcome Hamilton County administrator Nikki Bailey as she moves from Rivermont Elementary to Lookout Valley as principal. Bailey has served as principal at Rivermont since 2015. Before becoming a principal, she was the assistant principal at East Lake Elementary School, and a literacy coach at Calvin Donaldson Elementary and Lookout Valley Elementary. Bailey spent most of her time as a classroom teacher at Lookout Valley where she taught second-grade and kindergarten. She was also a Title I teacher and reading interventionist at the school. Bailey earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a master's from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Todd Stinson, another Hamilton County administrator, will transition from Signal Mountain Middle/High School to take the reins at Lookout Valley Middle/High. Stinson was previously principal at Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville, Tenn.; a high school instructional coordinator for Sumner County Schools in Gallatin, Tenn.; an assistant principal at Fairview High School in Fairview, Tenn.; and a math teacher and coach in Antioch, Franklin, and Fairview. Stinson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Middle Tennessee State University and his master's from Lipscomb University.

"Selecting quality school leaders is a critical first step in developing a successful school program and ensuring a high-quality educational experience for children," said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. 
"Community input was a key element of the process for our selection of these highly successful school administrators." Johnson added. "The addition of these quality leaders with track records of proven performance will move us closer to our goal of becoming the fastest improving school district in Tennessee."   

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