Staff photo by Emily Crisman / Amy Myhan, the new principal of Sequoyah High School, stands in the hallway above the school's cafeteria. Myhan is Sequoyah's first female principal since the school opened in 1975.

When Amy Myhan became assistant principal at Sequoyah High School two years ago, she was told the school was Hamilton County Schools' hidden gem.

Now that she is the new principal — Sequoyah's first female principal since the school opened in 1975 — her goal is for more people to see it as the gem that it is by making them aware of the opportunities it offers.

Sequoyah provided only half-day vocational programs until 2005, when it became a four-year high school offering a full school day with lunch and traditional academic credits in addition to career-focused training.

Any high school student in Hamilton County can apply to attend Sequoyah full time. Or, as of this fall, students zoned for Red Bank, Soddy-Daisy, Hixson and Sale Creek high schools can attend a half day at their zoned school and the other half at Sequoyah for vocational training.

"I hope that will continue to grow," Myhan said, referring to the number of schools offering the half-day option. "I feel the whole reason for Sequoyah is to meet a need and provide more opportunities for our students, and I want more kids to have those opportunities and advantages."

Sequoyah's 300 students are mostly male — currently 65%, although that fluctuates, she said. One reason for the higher percentage of males is that the school quit offering several programs that drew more female students, such as health sciences and child care, she explained.

Still, the school provides females a chance to pursue traditionally male-dominated career tracks such as welding, for which the school's instructor is female, Myhan said.

The school offers nine career and technical education programs, including unique-to-Sequoyah programs such as collision repair and machine technology. Myhan would like to add more, including interior design with a focus on electric and construction, and programs focused on small engine and marine repair. With Chattanooga's outdoor focus and location near a river and Chickamauga Lake, she feels such training would fill a need in the area.

She'd also like to bring back the child care program the school eliminated five years ago.

Although Myhan came to Sequoyah because she was assigned the position by district officials, she said she loves the school and feels her background in career and technical education makes her a great fit for the job. She decided as a college sophomore that she wanted to teach business, and graduated with a degree in business management.

"I felt that was where I could have the biggest impact on students, because no matter what they decided to do, business would be a part of their lives," Myhan said.

She gained real-world business experience working seven years in marketing before transitioning to the classroom, teaching business technology and business education in schools all over Hamilton County.

While she has a passion for CTE, Myhan also recognizes the importance of traditional academics, and hopes to raise the school's scores.

"I'm pushing high expectations for kids and teachers," she said. "I want them to be proud of the school they're in, and they can't do that without all the pieces coming together: academics, career and community."

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress