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Retiring RCS director says she's 'not going anywhere' until successor is ready

Jeff Bobo • Apr 3, 2020 at 1:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Rogersville City School Board of Education was on the verge of picking the successor to retiring Superintendent Rebecca Isaacs when the COVID-19 crisis shut down the school and the search process.

BOE Chairman Reed Matney told the Times News earlier this week the goal is to have a new superintendent in place before Isaacs leaves, although he knows there are circumstances beyond anyone’s control that could prevent that.  

“We plan to move forward with the selection process just as soon as this quarantine situation is behind us, hopefully by the end of April,” Matney said. “We’re just in a holding pattern right now. That’s what we’re shooting for, unless something delays us, and there may be an overlap (where there is no superintendent).”

Matney added, “We’ll make it through, but our goal is to do it as soon as we can. We’ve got an excellent staff and management team — their leadership team as they call it. Becky is going to work with us too. She said she’d do whatever we need her to do. She wants to retire, but she’ll work with us as long as she can.”

Isaacs announced in 2019 that she would be retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year after nine years at the helm of RCS.

Consultant Wayne Qualls reviewed 17 applications for her replacement and chose six semifinalists who were interviewed on March 12.

Those finalists included:

Jason Newman, who is principal at Humbolt Junior/Senior High School, Humbolt, Tennessee.

Mia Hyde, who is Core director of the First Tennessee Regional Office of the Tennessee Department of Education.

J.T. Stroder, who is school superintendent in Moab, Utah.

Edwin Jarnigan, who is a retired superintendent at Grainger County Schools but still contracts as a consultant there.

Patrick Fraley, who is principal at Greeneville High School and is a former principal at Cherokee High School.

Dr. Tony Kinkel, who is executive director of the Minnesota State Board for School Administration.

The meeting in which the BOE was going to choose its finalists for the final round of interviews was set for March 19, but it was canceled after the school was shut down over COVID-19 concerns.

Earlier this week, Isaacs shared a letter with the Times News that she sent to RCS faculty and staff assuring them she would do everything within her power to ensure a smooth transition for the future superintendent.

“There is angst about post-virus restart, and new leadership that doesn’t understand our culture, and who we are as this amazing family,” Isaacs stated in her letter. “I have assured all that I will do whatever it takes to ease the transition, and I am here. The emails, calls, and texts I am receiving will be cherished forever. As I told the Board earlier, we have amazing teachers and leaders that are taking care of themselves, their families, each other, and our students. So gratifying and inspiring in incredibly difficult times.”

Isaacs added, “Let me be very clear on this issue. A smooth restart to learning at school is my goal, and I am not going anywhere until that occurs. We will get through this together, and I will not drop our current situation into another’s lap. That’s not the stubborn, hard-headed, take charge person you know. As Heather Land would say, ‘I ain’t doin’ it.’ ”

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