Three GCS Leaders Selected for Tennessee Department of Education Rural Principal Network

September 14, 2018, in Nashville, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced the 52 principals across the state that will serve in the inaugural class of the Tennessee Rural Principals Network, one part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Transforming School Leadership Initiative.  Three GCS Principals were selected: Jack Evans of Greeneville Middle School, Patrick Fraley of Greeneville High School, and Sheila Newland of Highland Elementary School. 

Principals in rural schools, such as the schools of Greeneville City, are often unable to take advantage of leadership development due to the cost of registration and travel and have few networking opportunities to learn from other school leaders.  This initiative is a comprehensive approach to improve the preparation, retention, and development of Tennessee’s principals.

“We must ensure that every school, no matter where it is located in Tennessee, is led by a principal who is supported and developed to his or her fullest potential and able to guide our teachers and students to success,” said Commissioner McQueen. “The Tennessee Rural Principals Network is an innovative approach to meet the unique needs of school leaders in our rural communities and allow them to grow professionally and learn from one another to ultimately benefit our students.”

The Tennessee Rural Principals Network recognizes the importance of providing a sustained opportunity for rural principals by providing them the ability to participate in:

  • Ongoing professional learning from state and national experts on evidence-based strategies that improve educator effectiveness and student outcomes in a rural setting
  • Opportunities to exchange ideas, strategies, resources, and common challenges with peers in a safe and supportive setting
  • Opportunities to work with a smaller group of peers in a community of practice focused on a common challenge to identify best practices currently in use and to reduce isolation


The participants selected for the Tennessee Rural Principals Network will receive funding to support their attendance and learning at five events during the 2018-19 school year designed to provide them with professional learning aligned to help address those challenges that are unique to rural leadership.  

“I am excited about this opportunity as it will give me a chance to establish a wider network of school leaders who share some of the same challenges,” said Principal Fraley of Greeneville H.S.  The professional learning opportunities that come with being in this cohort group will be a very valuable experience!”

Principal Newland of Highland Elementary added, “I am honored to have been elected to participate in the Rural Principal’s Network.  There is no better way to learn than by sharing best practices, challenges and ideas with other principals.  Research supports that professional learning networks serve as powerful models that principals can replicate in building leadership teams and professional learning communities in their schools, which impacts student achievement.”

“I am very excited about being a part of the Rural Principal’s Network. It will be a great opportunity to explore solutions with other principals in similar settings regarding the challenges we face in rural education, ultimately allowing me to better serve the students of Greeneville Middle School,” said Principal Evans of Greeneville Middle School.    

For more information on the network from the Tennessee Department of Education, click link.


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