HCS reorganizes Talent Department
Posted on 10/28/2022
HCS reorganizes Talent Department

Chattanooga, Tenn. - A reorganized structure to improve customer service and school district efficiency in meeting personnel needs was announced today by Hamilton County Schools Chief Talent Officer Dr. Zac Brown.

Building off past successes in the department, Brown says the restructuring will include some new hires, the transfer of positions from other departments, and a realignment of personnel to work more closely with the five Learning Communities within HCS.

“Innovation and continuous improvement are two of the Talent team's core values” Brown said. “The additional resources and realignment of positions will allow us to be innovative in our recruitment, retention, and development efforts while delivering excellent customer service to all HCS employees.”

The most visible part of the Talent Department restructuring will be the establishment of a Business Partners Division under Director John Steele. Steele comes to HCS from CHI Memorial with nearly 30 years of human resources experience, most recently as the Director of HR Operations. During his 27 years at CHI Memorial, he has served in multiple HR roles of increasing responsibility, including overseeing human resources operations for three acute care hospitals.

In addition to overseeing the Business Partners Division, Steele will also serve as an HR Business Partner and work directly with the Rock Point Learning Community as its point of service for human resources matters. He will be supported by four other Business Partners, each working with an assigned Learning Community and assisted by an HR Generalist.

HR Business Partners are senior-level positions with a thorough knowledge and understanding of how the Talent Department can assist in making schools or departments successful. They are responsible for hiring, complex matters related to employee relations or investigations, and advising managers on HR-related practices. They are proactive partners responsible for assisting principals and hiring managers. The HR Generalists assist the Business Partners with hiring, onboarding, and employee relations.

Three other Learning Communities will be served by existing Talent Department employees assigned to the new Business Partner positions, while the Missionary Ridge Learning Community will be paired with Talent Department newcomer Dr. Saunya Goss. Goss will transition to the Talent Department from her role as principal at East Brainerd Elementary School, a position she has held since July 2020. Goss brings a wealth of educational experience to the department, including three years as Director of Elementary Schools in the Opportunity Zone and seven years as principal at Battle Academy.

According to HCS Superintendent Dr. Justin Robertson, restructuring the Talent Department is the next step to ensure the district’s success in a competitive job market.

“Our success as a school district depends on how well we cultivate, attract, retain, and develop a talented and diverse workforce,” Robertson said. “Not only do we have to recruit and hire the best available talent, but we also have to be responsive to our current employees. Whether providing advancement opportunities, benefits support, or an overall culture of care, the Talent Department plays a critical role in this effort. The restructuring announced today will align the department with our learning communities and provide a dedicated team that will know their needs and how to meet them.”

The creation of Business Partners within the Talent Department is the latest step taken by HCS to deliver outstanding customer service and organizational development solutions for the district. Some of the highlights from the past few years include the following:

  • Implementation of the iCIMS employee application and management system
    Through iCIMS, HCS has developed a robust careers website, better applicant tracking, and improved user capabilities for hiring managers, employees, and candidates.
    Introduction of the Brazen virtual recruitment platform
    For the current school year, the Brazen system facilitated teacher recruitment events that resulted in hires joining HCS from 26 states.
    Teacher retention efforts
    The Talent Department’s three-year Induction Program provides extensive support for new teachers, resulting in 89% retention of last year’s first-year teachers. Additionally, differentiated compensation has improved the success rate for filling vacancies at hard-to-staff schools.
    Grow Your Own/Opportunity Culture Programs
    Approximately 65 candidates are in the pipeline or currently serving in hard-to-staff schools and endorsements due to the HCS Grow Your Own teacher development program. Opportunity Culture placements have been made in eight schools across the district, and 100% of pilot Multi-Classroom Leaders returned to Opportunity Culture placement.
    LEAD Program
    The LEAD Program provides development opportunities for those teachers aspiring to leadership roles. Thirty participants from the Aspiring Assistant Principal (AAP) LEAD program have been promoted to the assistant principal position (11 from the 2020-21 cohort, 17 from the 2021-22 cohort, and two from 2022-23 cohort). Seventy-four percent of participants who have completed at least one year of the AAP LEAD program (and still work in the district) have been promoted to an AP position.

Eleven participants from the Aspiring Principal LEAD program have been promoted to principal positions (seven from the 2020-21 cohort, and four from the 2021-22 cohort), and 69% of participants who have completed at least one year of the Aspiring Principal LEAD program have been promoted to a principalship.