The second class of Leadership Hamilton County Schools is getting an inside look at public schools in the community
Posted on 11/15/2019
Leadership Hamilton County Schools group discussion The second class of Leadership Hamilton County Schools is underway with an opportunity for 28 community leaders to get involved in the community’s public schools. Leadership Hamilton County Schools is a six-session program running through April that will allow participants to experience the people and programs in our area schools preparing children for success after graduation.  The next session is scheduled to meet at Hixson High School on Tuesday, November 19. The November meeting is the third session for the 2020 Class of Leadership Hamilton County Schools.

“Being a part of Leadership Hamilton County Schools has been an eye-opening experience,” said Deb Socia, CEO of the Enterprise Center. “Because the participants come from varied backgrounds and experiences, the conversations have been insightful and valuable. I have had the opportunity to visit schools, to learn from district leaders, and to improve my understanding of the challenges and celebrations that the district is experiencing.” 

Eighteen community leaders were selected for the first class of Leadership Hamilton County Schools.  Ten additional slots were added this year to allow more from the community to get a closer look at how the district is preparing our children for success.  The most popular session in the first class was the opportunity for participants to become a principal for a day.  The community participants shadowed a principal at a school for a morning, and the group came back together to share what they experienced after lunch.  January 14, 2020, will be the Principal for a Day session for this class.  

“I think people underestimate the amount of work involved in being a school principal,” said Christine Bespalec-Davis, manager of school and teacher programs at the Hunter Museum of American Art, and a 2019 graduate of Leadership Hamilton County Schools, after her experience shadowing Debbie Smith, principal of Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts. “There is never a moment that something isn’t happening.” 

The first session this year covered an overview of the Future Ready 2023 five-year district action plan and vision for Hamilton County Schools. Session two covered the process of governance in public education.   

The next Leadership Hamilton County Schools session on November 19 will cover the new Future Ready Institutes and how the relatively new award-winning program is helping high schools to produce future-ready students. The session will visit the Future Ready Institutes at Hixson High School. The three programs at Hixson are the Institute of Integrative Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the Institute of Health Careers and Medical Advancement, and the Institute of Business Leaders and Owners.  

The Leadership Hamilton County Schools 2020 class includes:
Alex Paul Loza, a multidisciplinary artist, based in Chattanooga
Angela Favaloro, commercial sales manager, Liberty Brick
Anna Protano-Biggs, director, Hamilton County Mental Health Court
Carlos Williams, senior pastor, Orchard Knob Baptist Church
Celeste Williams, business manager, Hefferlin and Kronenberg Architects
Corey Hagen, director of education, Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center
Deardra McGee, coordinator of student recruiting and diversity, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Deb Socia, CEO, The Enterprise Center
Gloria A. Arnold-Fairbanks, paralegal, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C.
Hannah Gunter, donor relations and event coordinator, Children’s Advocacy Center
Jenny Hill, District 6, Hamilton County Board of Education
Justin Pinkerton, management, The Read House Hotel 
Keldren Icet, CEO, TKDo Martial Arts, Inc.
Kerrie Fulkerson, executive assistant, MBI Companies, Inc.
Lisa Spurlock, Southeast Partnership coordinator, Siskin Children’s Institute
Mackenzie Steele, community business development manager, Barnes and Noble
Madyson Foster, program and marketing manager, Junior Achievement of Chattanooga
Nandini Makrandi, chief curator, Hunter Museum of American Art
Oliver Richmond, president, Kingdom Partners
Rachel Hargis, corporate social responsibility specialist, Unum
Randy Fairbanks, District 1, Hamilton County Commission
Robin Cayce, assistant professor and Chattanooga TFA liaison, Lipscomb University
Robyn Carlton, CEO, Lookout Mountain Conservancy
Roddey Coe, IT manager, Suburban Manufacturing
Ruben Muriente Delgado, outreach coordinator, Family Justice Center
Shannon Johnson, director of exhibit development, Creative Discovery Museum
Smita Donthamsetty, education partnership relations coordinator, United Way of Greater Chattanooga
Vaughn Berger, director of enrollment management, Bryan College
You can find more about Leadership Hamilton County Schools and the Class of 2020 on the Hamilton County Schools website. Graduation for the Leadership Hamilton County Schools Class of 2020 will be in April.

Photo: Deb Socia, with The Enterprise Center, and Robin Cayce, with Lipscomb University, discuss what they have seen and learned during a session of Leadership Hamilton County Schools.