Changes are coming to two Wilson County high schools this spring. Principals at both Lebanon and Wilson Central High School are retiring.
WCHS Principal Pat Suddarth and LHS Principal Myra Sloan will retire effective at the end of this school year, both informed their faculties and staff on Tuesday.
Between them, the two principals have 80 years of experience in education.
Suddarth, also a veteran teacher and administrator, is retiring with 40 years teaching and administrative experience in education. The former principal at the Wilson County Adult High School since 2008, she was named principal at Wilson Central High School in January 2012 due to the resignation of former principal Darian Brown at the end of the fall 2011 semester.
"I appreciate the service both Mrs. Sloan and Mrs. Suddarth have given to Wilson County Schools throughout the years," said Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright. "They both have dedicated their lives to education and improving the lives of young people, and they will be missed."
Sloan recalls always wanting to be a teacher
Sloan's 40 years of experience culminated with her selection as principal of Lebanon High in 2010. She coordinated the move from the Harding Drive location to the new school on Hartmann Drive after serving as assistant principal at LHS for three years and special education coordinator for three years. Twenty-one of her 40 years were spent with Wilson County Schools.
"All my life, all I wanted to do was be a teacher," Sloan said in a statement released by the school system. "As a little girl, I played in the basement and wrote on the chalkboard pretending that I had students before me as I taught them each day.
"I could not believe it when I went to college and found that others had not a clue what major they wanted to pursue," said Sloan, who received her bachelor of science and Master of Arts in Special Education Specialist degrees from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville.
"I love Lebanon High School and the community, but I feel like I need to spend some time with my 86-year-old mother," Sloan added. "I put in 14-hour days and a lot on weekends and that does not leave much time for my family. I know I will regret it later if I do not make a concerted effort to be with her more.
"I will miss all of my great students and faculty, but I know they will be in good hands."
Sloan worked as a Homebound/Special Education teacher from 1994 until 2004. She was a teacher in White County for 18 years from 1975 until 1993 and at Lebanon Special School District from 1993 until 1994 before joining Wilson County Schools.
Suddarth came from Adult High School
Suddarth began teaching 40 years ago in Memphis. After teaching biology, chemistry and math at both Mt. Juliet and Lebanon High Schools from 1978 until1992, Suddarth became a teacher at the newly opened Wilson County Adult High School.
"It's been my privilege to work with Wilson County Schools since 1978," Suddarth said. "...I've had the opportunity to teach some amazing individuals in our community over past 37 years."
Suddarth said people always told her, "One day, you'll wake up and realize it's time to retire. I think in my heart, I know it's time. I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and my grandchildren and traveling.
"I wish Wilson County Schools nothing but the best," Suddarth, who was one of the first teachers at the Adult High School, added.
It was when she began teaching there in 1992 that she first met Dr. Wright, who was working with Knox County Schools at the time. "Wilson County and Knox County were among the eight districts to first open adult high schools in the state," she said.
In 1999, Suddarth was named curriculum coordinator of the adult high school, a position she held until 2008 when she was named principal of the school, which is for anyone 18 or older who has not obtained a high school diploma.
She earned her master's in education, in administration and supervision, from Trevecca Nazarene College.
Advertising has begun
The Wilson County School Board already has posted an advertisement on its web page for a new principal, although it does not say which school has the open position.
The ad reads as follows: "Principal - high school (2015-16 SY), Wilson County Schools, Administrative - Principal - High School, Grades 9-12, Open Date 04/17/2015."
Details of the ad specify, "Location to be determined. Qualified applicant must hold, or be eligible for, a valid Tennessee teaching license with administrative endorsement as approved by the State Board of Education."
The ad continues, "Appropriate classroom teaching and administrative experience is preferred. This assignment has a 260-day contract and salary is determined by placement on the Wilson County Schools Certified Employee Salary Schedule. Benefits include retirement and insurance."
Wright said applications are currently being accepted for new principals at both high schools. As of March 30, Wilson Central had an enrollment of 1,792, while LHS had an enrollment of 1,737 - making them the second- and third-largest schools in the county, respectively.
Deputy director also sought
The school system is also advertising for a deputy director of academics. This position has been confirmed by Public Information Officer Amelia Morrison Hipps as a position created by former director of schools Dr. Tim Setterlund.
The position was left unfilled after Setterlund was replaced by Dr. Wright last fall. She said at the time that she wanted to leave the position open until she was better acquainted with the system and its needs.
The deputy director of academics position also includes student services and talent management.
According to the school district's posted job description, this person will "supervise and lead all academic areas which include but are not limited to instructional improvement, curriculum and instruction, extended school program, federal programs, exceptional children services, academically gifted services, ELL (English language learners), CTE (career technical education), JROTC, adult basic education, testing and accountability, research and development."
Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.