Retiring, soon-to-be school chiefs reflect, look forward

Monday the Clinton City School Board voted to offer current assistant director of schools Kelly Johnson the director’s position, succeeding Vicki Violette, who is retiring after 10 years as Clinton’s top educator. Johnson, a Clinton native and alum of the city school system, has accepted the offer and will negotiate a contract with the School Board and take over on July 1st. Johnson also currently serves as the three-school system’s director of curriculum and has been with the system for three years. She began teaching in 1993 in Knox County, eventually moving on to school administrative positions and finally, spending three years supervising Knox County’s 18 elementary schools.

I sat down with both educators Thursday morning and asked Dr. Violette what she considered to be the highlights of her time in charge of the system. Not surprisingly, she pointed to the 2007 referendum where Clinton residents voted to keep the system independent and not combine it with the Anderson County school system. Violette also mentioned the technology initiative that provides 3rd through 6th grade students in the city schools with 1:1 devices that they use during their time in the city schools and get to keep upon graduating the 6th grade. Of course, the high test scores that the system has enjoyed were also mentioned, as Clinton Elementary School has been identified as a Reward School by the state for three straight years and the system consistently is ranked at or near the top of any list of high-performing school systems in Tennessee.

In her retirement, Dr. Violette says that she and her husband will remain in Clinton and spend time with their grandchildren as well as travel to all 50 states and hike the 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Johnson called the opportunity to take the reins of her childhood school system a “blessing” and said she plans to continue to build upon the foundation laid by her predecessor, who was quick to point out that Johnson helped to develop the system’s vision. While student technology will continue to improve over the next few years, Johnson said that one of her priorities will be to make sure that all teachers and classrooms have the necessary technology to teach those students as well as getting devices in to the hands of students in kindergarten through the 2nd grade. Johnson also indicated her eagerness to dig in to the data soon to be provided from the state on the first round of the new TN Ready tests to figure out how to continue to improve the quality of the education Clinton students are receiving.

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