Tennessee Announces 2020-21 Principal, District Supervisor of the Year Finalists

Dr. Jill Faulkner

Tennessee Announces 2020-21 Principal, District Supervisor of the Year Finalists

District and School Leaders Receive State’s Highest Recognition for Commitment to Education


NASHVILLE, TN— Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the nine finalists for the 2020-21 Tennessee Principal of the Year and Supervisor of the Year awards. The finalists represent each Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) region in the state, with three finalists in each Grand Division-West, Middle, and East.  


“All across the state, our exceptional school and district leaders are working tirelessly to ensure that students are safe, fed and continue to have access to high-quality learning opportunities—all while leading their communities through a totally new era of education,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Strong leadership is vital to the success of our students and educators, and I am grateful to these incredible leaders who are doing so much to serve students.” 


The Tennessee Principal of the Year award is awarded annually to a school leader for outstanding service in education and exceptional leadership that drives overall improvements in his or her school. To qualify, candidates must have a minimum of three years' experience as a principal and a minimum of five years' experience in public schools. In addition, all nominees must have a proven track record of exceptional gains in student learning.  


The nine finalists for 2020-21 Principal of the Year are: 


West Tennessee 

CORE Region Principal School District 
Shelby/Municipals Joretha Lockhart Lakeland Elementary Lakeland Municipal 
Southwest Steve Zurhellen Alternative Learning Center Tipton County 
Northwest Gamble Snyder Margaret Newton Elementary Lake County 


Middle Tennessee 

CORE Region Principal School District 
Mid Cumberland John (Eric) Bowman T.W. Hunter Middle Sumner County 
South Central Stan Curtis J.E. Woodard Elementary Maury County 
Upper Cumberland Stephanie Barnes The Phoenix School Cumberland County 


East Tennessee 

CORE Region Principal School District 
Southeast Leneda Laing Cleveland Middle Cleveland City 
East Tennessee Marvin Feezell Philadelphia Elementary Loudon County 
First Tennessee Matthew Drinnon John Hay Elementary Hamblen County 


“Congratulations to each of these individuals-- it is such an honor to be named a finalist and so well deserved,” said Dr. LeAndrea Ware, 2019-2020 Tennessee Principal of the Year and Principal of The Howard School. “Tennessee’s outstanding school leaders and supervisors work tirelessly on behalf of their students, teachers, and schools every single day and deserve to be recognized at the state level. It’s been a great experience to be part of this program for the last year, and I am excited for the next cohort of honorees.” 


Each year an outstanding public school supervisor earns distinction as the Tennessee Supervisor of the Year. To qualify, candidates must demonstrate a record of implementing innovative programs and managing and motivating students and faculties. Additionally, the nominees must have a minimum of three years' experience as a administrator and a minimum of five years' experience in public schools.  


The nine finalists for 2020-21 Supervisor of the Year are: 


West Tennessee 

CORE Region Supervisor District 
Shelby/Municipals Nancy Kelley Collierville Municipal 
Southwest Jill Faulkner Chester County 
Northwest Brandy Milner Benton County 


Middle Tennessee 

CORE Region Supervisor District 
Mid Cumberland Kay Martin Rutherford County 
South Central Michael Shuran Manchester City 
Upper Cumberland Rebecca Farley Cumberland County 


East Tennessee 

CORE Region Supervisor District 
Southeast Ruth Ann White Bradley County 
East Tennessee Keith Wilson Knox County 
First Tennessee Mandy Lloyd Hamblen County 


Principal and Supervisor of the Year finalists will proceed to an interview that will be held in in the coming weeks where each will meet with a panel of interviewers made up of department staff and other education leaders. Winners for each Grand Division and the Tennessee Principal and Supervisor of the Year will be selected from this group and announced this fall.  


To learn more about the Tennessee Principal of the Year and Supervisor of the Year Awards, click here