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Jere Whitson’s Tina Francis-Hodges Wins Tennessee Principal Of The Year

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Jere Whitson’s Tina Francis-Hodges Wins Tennessee Principal Of The Year

Jere Whitson Elementary School Principal Tina Francis-Hodges has been named this year’s Tennessee Principal of the Year.

Francis-Hodges said when she started at the school, they were on the state’s focus list and in the bottom 10 percent of schools in the state. She said thanks to focus and belief from faculty and staff, they were named a Reward School this year for high student achievement.

“I received this award, but I give the credit for all the hard work to them,” Francis-Hodges said. “It’s wonderful to be recognized, but the reason I do my job every day is for the children that we serve here at Jere Whitson.”

Francis-Hodges has served in education for some 36 years, all in Putnam County. She is the first-ever Putnam County Principal to win the award.

“I was shocked,” Francis-Hodges said. “But, Putnam County Schools are excellent. It’s rewarding that our county is being recognized for all of the hard work that all of the principals in our county are doing, and our students and teachers. It’s pretty cool though to be the first one from Putnam County.”

After the award was announced, the school held a parade to show appreciation to every member of the staff. Teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and SROs alike were invited to ride in the parade and celebrate. Francis-Hodges said student growth is a collective effort.

“Our teachers work tirelessly giving 100% to these children, and our families are very supportive,” Francis-Hodges said. “It is completely a community of educators and support working so that our children will be successful.”

Francis-Hodges said roughly 90% of the student population at the school are from low-income households and the school has a history of academic struggles. Francis-Hodges said the honor felt even sweeter knowing that many of her students go through challenges that many others do not face.

“My goal is to have that raise the bar of our achievement so that not only will our students be making tremendous gains, but they will be achieving with peers from schools that students are not as less fortunate as ours,” Francis-Hodges said.

Francis-Hodges said Director of Schools Corby King and the Putnam County School Board have offered Jere Whitson unwavering support since she began working there. She said while she appreciated the award, applause is due for the entire county.


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