Ryan is finalist for Tennessee Principal of the Year


Tennessee Department of Education recently announced the state’s nine finalists for the 2021-22 Tennessee Principal of the Year award, and a White County principal was on that list.

Rebecca Ryan, principal at Findlay Elementary School and who was among the nine finalists for the Tennessee Teacher of the Year award a few years ago, was named as the finalist for Middle Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland core region.

“We at White County Schools are incredibly proud of Mrs. Rebecca Ryan,” Kurt Dronebarger, director of White County Schools said. “She has proven herself to be an exceptional educator and administrator over the years. She is loved and respected by her school family, and she pursues excellence each day. Mrs. Ryan is most deserving of this honor, and we celebrate with her as she is once again recognized as one of the best educators in Tennessee.”

The annual Tennessee Principal of the Year award is given to a school leader who has a record of outstanding service in education as well as has provided exceptional leadership that provided guidance for overall improvements in their school. Qualifying candidates must have a minimum of one year of experience as a principal as well as a minimum of three years of experience in public schools. All nominees must also have a proven track record of exceptional gains in student learning.

“Throughout the past year, I have seen such inspiring dedication and drive within our school leaders as they have stayed focused on putting the needs of our students first,” Tennessee’s Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said after announcing the year’s finalists for Principal of the Year. “Having exceptional leaders in our schools is important for our students and our entire school communities, and I am grateful for their commitment to helping make Tennessee the best for all.”

The nine finalists include representatives from each of the Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) regions across the state. They are grouped so that each of what are classified as the Grand Divisions -  West, Middle, and East - have three representatives in the list of finalists.

WEST TENNESSEE: Tyler Salyer from Collierville Elementary, Shannon Taylor from Bargerton Elementary, and Kevin Turner from Dyer School

MIDDLE TENNESSEE: Nicole Miller Olszewski from KIPP Antioch College Prep Middle, Kelly Myers from Highland Park Elementary, and Rebecca Ryan from Findlay Elementary

EAST TENNESSEE: Autumn O’Bryan from Cleveland High, RaeAnn Owens from Clinton Middle College and Career Academy, and Chris Hampton from Dobyns-Bennett High

“I want to express my congratulations to each of these individuals, and it is a honor to be named a finalist and a testament to all your hard work,” Dr. Leneda Laing, the 2020-2021 Tennessee Principal of the Year said about this year’s group of finalists. “Tennessee’s school leaders and supervisors have done heroic work over the past year to continue educating and providing resources for their students and teachers, and deserve this state level recognition. It has been an honor to be part of this program and I am excited for this year’s group of finalists.”     


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