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13 candidates vie for director of schools job

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — The Sullivan County Tennessee Board of Education released a list of 13 candidates interested in taking on the position of Sullivan County director of schools on Wednesday.

The list includes three candidates from the Bristol Tennessee City Schools, one official from the Tennessee Department of Education in Nashville and two applicants from within the Sullivan County Schools system.

Karen Dickenson, the principal of St. Paul Elementary School in Wise County, Virginia, one of the 13 candidates, explained why she believes the skills and experience she has gained during her time as principal of St. Paul Elementary School have prepared her for the role of Sullivan County Superintendent.

“I love what I do. I’m very, very blessed. I feel like I make a difference at a school level, and I feel like I can take the same skills and apply it at a district level and also be that successful,” Dickenson said. “I think my skillset is very, very strong in curriculum. I think I’m a visionary person, and I have extremely high expectations that when we look at our students from pre-K all the way up to their senior year that our goal is to make sure our students leave our school division highly educated. They have got the skills to go out into the workplace and be very productive.”

Four other candidates from the list were contacted but did not provide comments.

Other applications on the list come from California, Texas, and New Mexico, as well as other parts of Tennessee.

During Tuesday night’s Sullivan County school board meeting, Chairman Randall Jones reminded board members of the criteria they outlined in their brochure.

“As you go through the applications, please keep in mind the brochure that we put out by the TSBA on the things that we are looking for,” Jones said. “To refresh your memory, strong fiscal budget management, a budget manager is a key part of this job, an effective communicator. Proven leadership skills, generator of support and instructional leader, look at these items and rate each candidate against those criteria.”

Jones said each board member will vote for up to four candidates they would like to interview.

“Anyone who receives four votes will be a candidate to be interviewed, and we will interview up to four people,” Jones said. “If we have more than four people receive four votes, we will come back and call a meeting and look at that again and see if we can bring it down to four.”

The final four candidates will be presented by the school board during its meeting on Nov. 3.

The Sullivan County Board of Education hopes to have the new director of schools selected by the start of December.

The complete list of candidates for Sullivan County director of schools is below:

Charles Carter, director of Career and Technical Education Programs, Tennessee Department of Education, Nashville, Tennessee.

Joshua Davis, principal, West Ridge High School, Sullivan County Schools, Blountville, Tennessee.

Karen Dickenson, principal, St. Paul Elementary School, Wise, Virginia.

Blair Henley, chief information officer, Bristol Tennessee City Schools, Bristol, Tennessee.

SaBrina Judd, assistant principal, Sullivan East Middle School, Sullivan County Schools, Blountville, Tennessee.

Brian Morris, assistant superintendent of human resources, Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, San Diego, California.

Deidre Pendley, director of Career and Technical Education/assistant principal, Bristol Tennessee City Schools, Bristol, Tennessee.

Paul Rockhold, director of programs, Regional Education Cooperative (REC-7), Hobbs Municipal Schools, Hobbs, New Mexico.

Amy Scott, supervisor of secondary education/federal supervisor, Bristol Tennessee City Schools, Bristol, Tennessee.

Randy Shannon, attorney-at-law, self-employed services, Camden, Tennessee.

Stephen Van Der Aa, superintendent, Benton Community School Corporation, Fowler, Indiana.

Jason Vance, community superintendent for Missionary Ridge Learning Community, Hamilton County Board of Education, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Cari Warnock, education strategist, K12 and K20, Dell Technologies, Round Rock, Texas.

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