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Three executive officers join Metro Schools leadership team

New hires to oversee priority schools, leadership development and high schools

With the start of the 2015-16 school year less than a month away, Metro Schools is getting a leadership boost by welcoming three new executive officers to oversee vitally important areas related to academics. Dr. Euna McGruder is joining the district from Atlanta, Ga., in the newly created position of executive officer for priority schools; former Hillsboro High School principal Dr. Terry Shrader joins central office in another new position, the executive officer for leadership development; and Dr. Aimee Wyatt has been promoted to executive officer for high schools. All three bring a wealth of needed experience to their new roles and will join a leadership team eagerly preparing for a new school year.

Having an executive officer dedicated only to priority schools was a recommendation of MASS Insight, the consulting firm contracted to assess the district’s capacity to turnaround low-performing schools. Formerly included as part of the Office of Innovation, this work will focus only on the 12 schools designated by the Tennessee Department of Education as “priority schools,” which are those in the bottom five percent statewide in terms of academic achievement. Throughout the 2014-15 school year, district leaders worked to begin the turnaround process at these schools by allocating extra resources, hiring transformational leaders and helping principals craft individual turnaround plans. Dr. McGruder will continue that support and monitor progress at each school.

A graduate of Tennessee State University, Dr. McGruder returns to Nashville with 24 years in school and district leadership experience, including several years of school turnaround experience. As a principal in both Dekalb County Schools in Georgia and Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, she led significant academic achievement gains in three different schools facing significant challenges. In addition to her hands-on work as a school leader, she recently spent time in Newark Public Schools in New Jersey as a mentor and coach for principals charged with school turnaround.

“Supporting our priority school principals as they work to rapidly improve student achievement is perhaps the most important focus area we have right now as a district,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele. “Dr. McGruder is exactly who we need leading that effort. She is driven by results and a passion for helping students. We are entering a critical year for these schools. The principals have autonomy to design their improvement plans, they have clear direction and goals for where they need to go, and now Dr. McGruder will ensure they get the support they need to get results.”

As the new executive officer for leadership development, Dr. Shrader will continue one of the more successful Metro Schools initiatives of the last several years: developing and enhancing the internal leadership pipeline for educators. He will work with teachers, assistant principals and principals to ensure Metro Schools has a deep pool of leadership talent from which to draw. This includes programs designed to groom classroom teachers for school leadership roles and principals for district leadership roles. It also includes opportunities for teachers to grow their careers without having to leave the classroom, such as lead teachers, multi-classroom leaders, instructional coaches and deans.

Dr. Shrader’s qualifications for this role are numerous. As principal at Hillsboro High School since 2010, he saw several of his assistant principals advance to principal roles at other schools. He was also a network lead principal, which means he supervised a small group of other school principals and helped guide their school-level decisions. He helped lead great academic success at Hillsboro High School, ranked the fourth most challenging high school in all of Tennessee. In 2014, he won the prestigious William J. and Lucille H. Field Award for Excellence in Tennessee Secondary School Leadership from the University of Tennessee. In all, he has served as a school principal in Nashville and Franklin, Tenn. for 18 years.

“I am excited about this new role, but more importantly this is an exciting opportunity for our district,” said Dr. Shrader. “Leadership is what differentiates the great school leaders from the good ones. The opportunity to develop future and present leaders for our school system is a task that my past experiences have prepared me to do. I am so honored to accept this new job, and I will work diligently to help our leaders develop their skills to better serve all students in our district.”

Leadership development has been an area of major focus for the district. This school year, teacher leaders will be paid $1.42 million in stipends to recognize the hard work and extra hours they put into their expanded roles. Just last month, the district’s leadership development program for school principals, the Principals’ Leadership Institute, was recognized and praised in a study from the Annenberg Institute for Education Reform.

Coming in as the new executive officer for high schools, Dr. Aimee Wyatt is entering familiar territory. As principal at Antioch High School for four years and an executive lead principal for four years after that, she is one of the pioneers of the Academies of Nashville. She was instrumental in the development of the structures that made the redesign of Metro high schools the envy of the nation. She brings expertise not only in the schools she will continue to support, but also in instructional design, professional development, data use, community partnerships and more. Dr. Wyatt chairs the Alignment Nashville high school team and sits on the leadership team for Ford Next Generation Learning.

“We have assembled an incredible team of educators who are prepared to support our school leaders and teachers however they can,” said Dr. Steele. “This will be a year of empowerment for us all. Every student will be empowered to take control of his or her learning, and everyone involved in that learning – from the classroom teacher up to our executive officers – will be empowered with the energy and creativity to help them achieve."

In all, there are six executive officers, all reporting to Dr. Steele:

  • Vanessa Garcia, Executive Officer for Elementary Schools
  • Antoinette Williams, Executive Officer for Middle Schools
  • Aimee Wyatt, Executive Officer for High Schools
  • Euna McGruder, Executive Officer for Priority Schools
  • Alan Coverstone, Executive Officer for Charter Schools
  • Terry Shrader, Executive Officer for Leadership Development