Hamilton County Schools administrator Nakia Towns has been selected as interim superintendent.
She received five votes, and another candidate, Zac Brown, received three on the first ballot by the Hamilton County Board of Education. In a subsequent vote, she was selected 6-2.
A third candidate, John Tharp, did not receive any votes.
The board accepted Superintendent Bryan Johnson’s resignation at Thursday’s meeting and decided that interested applicants for interim superintendent were required to currently hold leadership roles or administrative positions in the district.
Additionally, candidates had to submit a letter of interest to the board’s executive assistant by Monday morning ahead of the board’s vote Monday evening.
Towns serves as deputy superintendent. She was a finalist for superintendent positions in school districts outside Tennessee including Polk County Public Schools in Florida earlier this year and East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana in 2020.
“After the year we’ve endured, I am committed to ensuring that our community experiences a return to normalcy and consistency as we start the new school year. Our teachers and school leaders must be able to focus on welcoming all children back onto campus without the potential stress and distraction that comes from uncertain or unfamiliar leadership,” Towns said in her letter of interest to the school board.
Towns joined the district’s leadership team in 2017 as chief of staff before becoming deputy superintendent. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University and previously worked in roles at the Tennessee Department of Education and Knox County Schools.
Tharp has worked as executive director of the Harrison Bay Learning Community and principal of Red Bank High School since 2018. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership and curriculum and policy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We have a blueprint for success with our strategic plan and its five areas: accelerating student achievement, future ready students, great teachers and leaders, engaged community and efficient and effective operations. We will work together to keep our momentum moving forward to become the best school district in the state. We will remain transparent with open lines of communication. We will continue on this path so that the board can focus on finding a permanent leader,” Tharp said in his letter to the board.
Tharp served as superintendent of Greendale School District in Greendale, Wisconsin, for three years and taught at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Clark Atlanta University before coming to Hamilton County Schools.
Brown took on the role of director of induction and leadership development for the district in July 2020. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership and professional practice from Trevecca Nazarene University and served in multiple roles for the district, including director of secondary schools, Opportunity Zone and assistant superintendent of school operations.
“I possess strong leadership skills and a diverse range of educational experiences, which have contributed greatly to the success of the various projects, programs and other initiatives with which I have been involved. I am well versed in all facets of education, from student-centric curriculum planning to budgeting and administrative leadership. I am also extremely passionate about blending academia with cost-effective management to optimize administrative leadership efforts that yield positive educational outcomes,” Brown said in his letter of interest.
The interim superintendent will not be eligible for the permanent superintendent role, according to board policy 5.801 for the Hamilton County Department of Education.
Contact Anika Chaturvedi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592.
Note: This story was updated at 6:05 p.m. with the board’s decision.