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Hamilton County Schools' directors welcomed 11 new team members in various areas including opportunities and access, exceptional education, teaching and learning, and athletics, according to a news release from the school system regarding the personnel changes.

"Strong and effective leadership continues to be a priority for Hamilton County Schools," Deputy Superintendent Dr. Sonia Stewart said in the release. "As we gear up for the start of the 2022-23 school year, we are excited to hire such a great group of leaders, both from within our own ranks and across the nation."

New directors to Hamilton County Schools for the upcoming year are:

 

Celeste McKenzie, director of specially designed instruction for exceptional education

McKenzie has served as exceptional education supervisor for the MidTown and Missionary Ridge learning communities and brings with her more than 29 years in her educational career. She was a middle school teacher at East Lake and Hunter middle schools and a high school inclusion teacher and district lead co-teaching trainer in the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Georgia.

McKenzie has a bachelor of science degree and a master's degree in special education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and an educational leadership master's degree from Capella University and a leadership endorsement from Bethel University. In 2016, she was named a Teach Plus Policy Fellow.

 

Christina Moore, director of compliance for exceptional education

Moore began with Hamilton County Schools in 2005 and eventually became the exceptional education supervisor for elementary schools in 2014.

She has worked across grade levels as the autism consult for seven years and also has experience as an inclusion teacher and a development classroom teacher.

Moore has a bachelor of special education degree from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, and a master's of education degree from Trevecca University of Nashville.

 

Dr. Arica Austin, director of eligibility and evaluation for exceptional education

Austin is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist and has worked in a variety of roles in school districts for the last 10 years.

She served as a school psychologist for the Brentwood School District in Long Island, New York, for four years, and conducted individual therapy, group therapy and assessments for students of all ages and grade levels.

Austin worked with a vast student population as a school psychologist and is committed to providing all with high-quality support, assessments and referrals to address the mental health and academic disparities in the community, according to the news release.

Austin's qualifications are many, including a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the State University of New York Stony Brook, a master of arts degree in child development from Tufts University, a master of arts degree in professional psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, a doctor of psychology degree from William James College, and a doctor of psychology in re-specialization in school psychology from St. John's University.

 

Terrilyn Ladd, director of related services for exceptional education

Ladd began with Hamilton County Schools in 2009 and then traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, where she served for 10 years, most recently as exceptional education supervisor for related services supporting speech/language, dead education, physical therapy, TennCare reimbursements and much more.

For nine years, Ladd served as exceptional education lead teacher, and she holds a bachelor of science degree in speech and hearing sciences from the University of South Alabama and a master of science degree in speech and hearing science from Tennessee State University and an educational specialist degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Ladd is also a licensed and nationally certified speech-language pathologist with experience in diagnosing and treating speech and language disorders in both children and adults.

 

Jennifer Allison, director of access, transition and school support for exceptional education

Allison has been with Hamilton County Schools since 1993 and most recently served as exceptional education supervisor for its secondary programs from 2010-2020.

Her career in special education started at Soddy Daisy High School, where she worked as a special education teacher for 17 years and held the title of department chair for eight years.

She has earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in special education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and was named a member of the 2015-16 Cohort 17 of the Public Education Foundation Leadership Fellows program.

 

Rachel Gordon, director of behavior for exceptional education

With and 18-year career in education, Gordon joins Hamilton County Schools from Knox County, where she served as system-wide behavior liaison team lead for elementary schools until 2018.

Gordon has also worked as a special education teacher and holds a bachelor's degree in social work from Saint Mary's College, a master's degree in special education from the University of Tennessee and an education specialist's degree in instructional leadership from Lincoln Memorial University.

 

John Rice, middle school director

Rice, an educator since 2005, comes from the Cedar Rapids Community School District in Iowa, where he was executive director of teaching and learning.

Over the course of his teaching tenure, he has worked as a middle school English and social studies teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, Daegu, South Korea, and Washington, D.C., where he served as director of blended learning and director of educational technology.

Rice holds a bachelor of science degree in secondary education from Trinity Baptist University in Jacksonville, Florida, a master of arts degree in English and a master of education degree in secondary education, both from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Currently, Rice is working to earn a master of arts in educational leadership and a doctorate in education policy and leadership studies from the University of Iowa.

 

Jim Boles, director of access and school choice

Boles has been with Hamilton County Schools since 1993, most recently serving at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, where he taught social studies before moving up to assistant principal and then eventually his most recent title of executive principal.

He also served as an assistant principal for one year at East Ridge High School and three years at Hixson Middle School.

Boles has a bachelor of arts degree in history and a master of science degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and an education specialist degree in K-12 administration from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville.

 

Grant Knowles, director of innovation and fine arts

Knowles assumes his directorship following a three-year stint as innovation coordinator for Hamilton County Schools. He began teaching in 2005 in Tucker, Georgia, where he served from 2010-13.

Knowles also worked as the elementary science department chair for Harare International School, an International Baccalaureate World School in Zimbabwe. He eventually came to Hamilton County Schools in 2013 where he started as a Volkswagen eLab specialist, served as project/problem-based learning coach and as a classroom teacher at Normal Park Museum Magnet School.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of West Georgia and is currently working on a master of arts degree in instructional leadership from Tennessee Technological University.

 

Dr. Yvette Stewart, director of elementary learning and K-12 literacy

Stewart has worked in public education for more than 25 years. She is an alumna of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and hails from North Carolina.

Stewart's tenure in education began in 1996 as a kindergarten teacher. She spent 13 years in the Durham public and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school systems as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal and middle school assistant principal.

Before making her way to Hamilton County Schools in 2018, Stewart spent 10 years as a professional development consultant and Race to the Top project coordinator for professional learning with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She also served as assistant director for the Educator Effectiveness Division for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

In her new directorship for Hamilton County, she will be responsible for strengthening the use and the fidelity of the implementation of the literacy curriculum in grades K-12.

 

Tim James, athletic director

Hailing from a tenure at East Ridge High School, James has served Hamilton County students as a future-ready coach, director of athletics, head football and track coach, and assistant principal at various times since 2016.

James' career also took him to Heritage High School in Ringgold, Georgia, where he worked as a social studies teacher and served as head football coach from 2008-2014 and LaFayette High School where he taught and coached football from 2014-2016.

He brings 30 years of experience in education and also served in the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army.

James holds a bachelor of science degree in education with a concentration in social studies from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a master's degree in education leadership from Tennessee Technological University and an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Tennessee Tech.

-- Compiled by Brandi Dixon

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