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Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson was named the 2021 Tennessee Superintendent of the Year by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.

The news was announced at the organization's virtual awards banquet on Monday.

Sara Bunch, the organization's communications director, said Johnson is the first Hamilton County Schools superintendent to win the award.

Johnson, a Nashville native, was selected among eight regional superintendents of the year: Bruce Brochers of Oak Ridge City; Jeff Perry of Hamblen County; Kris McAskill of Houston County; Jonathan Criswell of Milan Special School District; Michelle Gilbert of Hickman County; Jason Manuel of Germantown Municipal; and Kurt Dronebarger of White County.

Last week, Johnson was named one of 24 Superintendents to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association for his fast-paced leadership.

The first-time superintendent was hired in July 2017, the fifth top chief since the county-city schools merger in 1997. In February, the school board approved a new, four-year contract that included a base pay raise to $240,000 a year, making him the third highest paid superintendent in the state.

In his three years at Hamilton County, the district has seen improvements in academic growth, according to officials. In 2019, 45 schools earned a level 5 in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) results — almost double the number from the previous year.

Johnson told the Times Free Press that the state award is a true honor. He also said his wife and children keep him grounded.

"I really feel like this is a Hamilton County award, whether it's the mayor, the school board or other entities. So many have helped us move forward in the right direction," he said.

Johnson will represent the state in the National Superintendent of the Year program through the American Association of School Administrators' National Conference on Education.

Before coming to Chattanooga, Johnson worked at the Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools, north of Nashville. He started there in 2008, coaching and teaching. He was promoted through the ranks and named chief academic officer in 2015.

Contact Monique Brand at mbrand@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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