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Annetta Ferguson, principal at Hardy Elementary, watches pre-K students walk into a classroom as she makes her rounds at the East Chattanooga school.


Name: Anetta Ferguson

Age: Not given

Years at Hardy: Seven years; principal since 2009; 22 years in education

Education: Bachelor's degree in education from University of Cleveland, Tenn. (now Lee University); master's degree from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Family: Single mother of one adult child

"She stands very firm in what she believes in. She doesn't waiver." - Karen Hollis, director of elementary operations for Hamilton County Schools

FUN FACT: "I love gardening. It's my kind of thing."

Anetta Ferguson enjoyed early retirement from school administration in the summer of 2009 - for about four months.

To a person less than enthusiastic about their profession, this would be a cruel punishment of the highest order.

But Ferguson, a principal at Hardy Elementary School, is no such person.

To come out of retirement meant Ferguson could once again interact with her students, which is her favorite part of being a school administrator, she said.

"I always enjoy asking what they learned that day, and seeing their faces light up as they explain it to me," Ferguson said.

Ferguson was nominated for the Times Free Press Excellence in Education Award by Terese Glenn-Ward, a parent of a Hardy Elementary school student.

"Mrs. Ferguson has continued to set the pace as her students continue to strive and excel in areas of most improvement (sic)," Ward wrote in her nomination.

Karen Hollis, director of elementary operations for Hamilton County Schools, has worked side-by-side with Ferguson as assistant principal at Hardy around 2005, she said.

"She stands very firm in what she believes in," Hollis said. "She doesn't waiver."

Over the course of her 22-year career in education, Ferguson has taught in various schools from elementary to post-secondary. She even lived and worked in the Bahamas at one point, she said.

Now she lives in Georgia. She commutes two hours to Chattanooga for her work week at Hardy. She spend weekends at her home in the Peach State.

During the school day at Hardy, Ferguson divides her time between administrative duties as principal and interacting with the students. The result, she noted, is long days at the 2100 Glass St. campus.

"If you spend [hours] just in the office, it's hard to be visible," Ferguson said. "After hours are used for the office part."

Spending so much time out of her office and in the classroom surprises visitors when they try to pay her a visit.

Ferguson's dedication and hard work affects not only the students and parents, but also her colleagues, Ursula Greene, who has served as Hardy's assistant principal for two years.

"She leads by example," Green said. "I've grown the past few years just by watching her."

Contact staff writer Adam Poulisse at 423-757-6592 or