Two proven leaders in Hamilton County Schools take on new challenges
Posted on 12/09/2019
Photo of Dr. Justin Robertson and Neelie ParkerTwo proven leaders with many years of experience in Hamilton County Schools are taking on new challenges in the district for the children of the community. Dr. Justin Robertson, chief schools officer for the system for the past two years, will move to chief of operations, and Neelie Parker, the executive director of the North River Learning Community, will become the new chief of schools. The two will begin their new roles immediately. Both Robertson and Parker have deep family roots in the community, and they have experience at the school and district level for Hamilton County Schools.

Dr. Justin Robertson, the new chief operations officer, has worked in curriculum and instruction at the central administration level as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and chief schools officer since 2016. He will now take charge of the critical support roles of transportation, school nutrition, maintenance, facilities, student discipline, technology, and other non-academic services that help schools function efficiently and effectively for children to learn. His knowledge of local schools will be important as Robertson works directly with MGT, a national facility assessment company, as they continue to develop a 10-year facility master report that will include additional community meetings in late January before the final recommendation report is shared with the Hamilton County Board of Education. Also, Robertson’s knowledge of the community and inner-workings of the academic side of schools in Hamilton County will be beneficial to the process. Robertson takes over for Dr. Kenneth Bradshaw, who left the district earlier this year to become superintendent of Richmond County Schools in Augusta, Georgia.

Before being named assistant superintendent in 2016, Dr. Robertson served as a principal at Red Bank High School, Brown Middle School, and Lookout Valley Elementary in Hamilton County. Before returning home to Chattanooga, Robertson was a teacher at Germantown High School and an assistant principal in Shelby County Schools.

Dr. Robertson holds degrees from Union University and Lipscomb University.

Dr. Neelie Parker, the new chief school officer, will take on the challenge of continuing the academic growth and success of the past couple of years. Parker has been a teacher, school administrator, and district level administrator for Hamilton County Schools. She helped to start the learning community concept in the district and has served as the first North River Learning Community executive director.

Parker has served as director of elementary schools since 2015 for Hamilton County Schools. She was principal at Big Ridge Elementary for six years and spent seven years as principal of East Lake Elementary before leaving the school level to work with all elementary schools in the district. Parker also served as assistant principal at Calvin Donaldson Elementary and taught at East Brainerd Elementary in Hamilton County Schools. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at [email protected] and earned her master’s and a doctorate from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Robertson and Parker have been instrumental in the historic success of Hamilton County Schools over the past year. Hamilton County Schools outpaced the state this year on academic achievement not only in overall success rate but also in the categories of math, English language arts, and social studies. The district has 32 Reward Schools for 2019. Of the five learning communities in Hamilton County Schools, the North River Learning Community had 10 Reward schools, the most Reward schools in a learning community in the district. Reward status is the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee. Reward schools are improving student academic achievement and student growth for all students and groups. The district earned Level 5 designation overall and Level 5 in all categories this year. The district had 45 Level 5 schools for student academic growth, and 21 schools earned Level 5 in all categories. There were 66 schools at or above state expectations for growth for 2019, and 80 percent of the district’s teachers met or exceeded student growth expectations for the 2018-2019 school year. The graduation rate also continued to climb as it is up from 84.6 percent for the Class of 2017 to 86.9 percent for the Class of 2019.

The success of Hamilton County Schools is moving the district up toward the top in the rankings in the academic growth of districts across the state. In the past two years, Hamilton County Schools moved 128 positions toward the top and is now ranked second in the state for academic growth behind only Williamson County. The movement in state rankings makes Hamilton County Schools the fastest improving school district in Tennessee.

“The district is in a good position with talented individuals available to fill these vital posts serving the children of the community,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “Dr. Robertson is very familiar with the operations of schools at the district and school level, and Dr. Parker has been with us through our academic transformation over the past two years. Both will be able to step right into these new roles and continue our progress to become the best school district in Tennessee.”