Seven schools in Sullivan and its cities named Reward Schools

Rick Wagner • Updated Sep 24, 2018 at 8:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The three public school systems based in Sullivan County combined to receive seven Reward School designations for 2018, placing those schools among the best schools across Tennessee as determined by standardized test results.

As previously reported, Kingsport had three 2018 Reward Schools, announced Friday afternoon after a State School Board meeting in Nashville, while Sullivan County and Bristol had two each.

In Kingsport City Schools, Johnson, Adams and Jefferson elementary schools got the Reward School designation, while Miller Perry Elementary and Sullivan South High were Sullivan County Reward Schools. The Reward School designation, representing top 5 percent in the state, is based in part on results from the 2017-18 TNReady assessment, which includes end-of-course exams in high school.


“We are incredibly proud of the students and educators that have achieved the prestigious Reward School designation this year,” KCS Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse said in a news release. “Reaching Reward School status is a product of much effort and commitment to excellence. The Adams, Jefferson and Johnson school communities have done fantastic work resulting in this significant honor.”

The reward status is the top designation a school can earn in Tennessee. These schools were those identified as improving overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students and for student groups. In 2018, 318 schools in 85 school districts, or about 20 percent of schools in the state, earned reward status, according to news release from KCS and the Tennessee Department of Education.

Reward School status is a key designation under Tennessee’s school accountability system. This was the first year Tennessee implemented its new school accountability system model, which was developed with educators and stakeholders across the state and examines multiple measures of success.

“As we always do, our administrators and staff have been and will continue to analyze the accountability results to identify areas of strength and ways we can improve,” Moorhouse said. “Plans have already been developed based on the 2017-18 data that will help us accomplish our goals as a district.”


Other than South High, Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said the only other grades 9-12 high school in the region to be recognized as a Reward School was Greeneville High School. The K-12 Clinch in Hawkins County and University School in Johnson City were also Reward Schools. University School is operated by East Tennessee State University as part of Washington County’s system.

“For any high school it’s an accomplishment,” Rafalowski said. “They have to hit so many levers.” Those include end-of-course tests, attendance, graduation rates and ACT scores, she explained, adding the school board plans to honor South and Miller Perry at its Oct. 2 meeting. “We had a meeting Friday afternoon and let all the teachers know,” Miller Perry principal Mike Wilson said. “I am proud of the teachers and students.”

The naming of Reward Schools is part of the state’s release of accountability data for the 2017-18 school year. The state’s new school accountability system was developed through a 16-month process of gathering feedback and input from students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members. Tennessee has had Reward and Priority schools since 2012, but this was the first year with an updated methodology as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.


Elsewhere in the Tri-Cities, the independent K-8 Rogersville City School was also named a Reward School, as were Hawkins County’s Carters Valley Elementary, Hawkins Elementary, the K-12 Clinch School and Mount Carmel Elementary, which was also a Reward School in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Other Reward Schools in the region included Washington County’s Grandview Elementary, Jonesborough Elementary and University School; Johnson City’s Cherokee Elementary, Lake Ridge Elementary, Liberty Bell Middle, Towne Acres Elementary and Woodland Elementary; Bristol’s Avoca Elementary and Tennessee Online Public School.

“Hawkins Elementary being named as a 2018 Tennessee Reward School has been the highlight of my 31-plus years as an educator,” Hawkins Elementary principal Barry Bellamy said in a news release. “It is what all educators strive to achieve. I would like to thank and commend all of our teachers, support staff, students and parents. ... They deserve most of the credit. Our teachers and support staff are just as excited about this as I am.”

Denise McKee was principal of Carter’s Valley School in 2017-18 and this school year is principal of Clinch School. “Being named a Reward School for the 2018-2019 school year represents all the hard work that teachers, staff and students have put in over the last few years,” she said. Carter’s Valley in 2016-17 received the Lennore Annenberg Grant for $50,000 to purchase resources to furnish a schoolwide book room and got Read to Be Ready Summer Grants for the past two summers.

In reference to Clinch, McKee said, “Most of Clinch’s students attend this one school for their entire education. The teachers and staff really get to know the students and their academic needs. I am very excited about being at Clinch and am eager to see how much more our students can achieve and grow.”

Current Carter’s Valley principal Stephanie Mann said the staff and faculty of Carter’s Valley’s “hard work and dedication has proven effective in leading students to greater achievement and I am excited to be a part of this outstanding faculty.”

This marks the fourth time Mount Carmel has been named a Reward School. Amy Glass is in her first year as principal there. “I would like to commend the staff and faculty of Mount Carmel School. It is truly an honor for me to serve as an administrator to a school that is dedicated to improving student achievement and that has three times been named a Reward School. Mount Carmel teachers and students continually raise the bar and put student achievement at the forefront of all they do.”