Two outsiders apply for Hamilton County's interim schools superintendent post

Two outsiders apply for Hamilton County's interim schools superintendent post

February 29th, 2016 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

Document: Shaun Sadler resume

Resume for Shaun Sadler, who is being considered for interim superintendent.

Document: John Cosgrove resume

John Cosgrove is being considered for a position as interim superintendent of Hamilton County Schools.

Jonathan Welch listens during a Jan. 14 meeting at the Hamilton County Department of Education.

Jonathan Welch listens during a Jan. 14 meeting...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

The Hamilton County Schools system's interim superintendent may be an unconventional pick.

The two applicants for the position are both from outside the school system, with more experience in management and leadership than education.

If the school board votes to buy out or fire Superintendent Rick Smith on March 7, it is expected that a long-term interim superintendent will be named by March 17.

Shaun Sadler and John Cosgrove both submitted their résumés to Hamilton County Board of Education Chairman Jonathan Welch.

"The board needs to have good options, it's a diverse board and there will be nine different opinions of what a good candidates and good qualities are," Welch said.

In the wake of the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman, allegedly by three of his basketball teammates, Smith has received widespread criticism of his handling of the situation, He requested the board begin negotiating a separation agreement with him.

Since that announcement, several school board members and community leaders have advocated for the interim superintendent to be someone with business and management experience, not necessarily an educator and definitely not someone within the school system.

Sadler is a retired commanding officer with the United States Marine Corps, leading Marine Aircraft Group-39, the largest aircraft group in the Marine Corps. Before that, he was the chief of staff of the Marine Aircraft Wing in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, serving as an advisor to President Barack Obama.

During Sadler's more than 27 years in the military he managed more than 4,800 personnel, assets over $3 billion and a budget of $490 million. His résumé boasts of leadership and management experience.

Sadler, a graduate of Hixson High School, received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina.

He told the Times Free Press the job of interim superintendent is fairly similar to some of the previous positions he's held overseeing fairly large organizations in the military.

Sadler added that he comes from a family of educators, as his wife previously taught in Hamilton County schools and is now a teacher in Bradley County. His parents also were educators, he said.

"To be an educator you have to be dedicated. Teachers don't do it because of the money, but they do it because that's what they love to do," Sadler said.

He noted he thinks it is important for the school system to work in partnership with the community, adding that Chattanooga 2.0, a local initiative to improve public education and better prepare the county's workforce, could be a huge asset to the school system.

Sadler said in the coming weeks he is sure the school board will have lots of questions for him, and that he has questions for its members, as well.

"It will take a partnership with the board moving forward," Sadler said.

Cosgrove, the founder and CEO of the Leadership Workshop, is working to complete his doctorate in leadership from Andrews University. He also the owner and president of First Asset Financial of Chattanooga, and his résumé states he is very active in the local nonprofit community.

He previously served as a senior vice president with UBS in Central Florida, and his résumé states that during his two years in that position he "shifted culture to a values driven environment." Before that, he worked as a director at Merrill Lynch in the Tennessee Valley Complex.

Cosgrove received his bachelor's degree in engineering and military science at the United States Military Academy and a master's degree in education and counseling from the University of Wisconsin.

He did not return multiple requests for comment Monday.

Jared Bigham, director of Chattanooga 2.0, said he hopes the district's interim superintendent will be proactive in addressing issues instead of reacting once they arise.

"The person stepping into the position will need the ability to face a challenging environment with unwavering leadership in setting the table for the full-time superintendent," Bigham said.

He said he anticipates the interim superintendent will need to start by immediately addressing three critical areas: the budget, how the district recruits, hires and retains the best educators possible, and improving moral within the school system.

Welch said the school board will accept additional applicants through March 4.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow on twitter @kendi_and.


This story was updated Feb. 29 at 11:35 p.m.