Keri Prigmore arrived for her interview to become the next Blount County Schools Superintendent with a 90-day plan outlining her goals and strategies.
With speculation online about what she would do if hired, Prigmore wanted to be clear.
“I’m someone who can work with someone who doesn’t like me, as easily as possible with someone who likes me,” she told members of the Blount County School Board in answering their first question, about what she wanted them to know. it wasn’t on his resume.
Prigmore said the school board may have heard from people who didn’t think she was the right candidate to be the next principal of BCS. “Maybe these people never had the chance to meet me. They developed a perspective of me that came from Facebook or someone told them. These people are welcome in my office like anyone else. who else,” she said.
“We must come together, regardless of our views, because the primary purpose is to serve the students, families and staff of Blount County,” Prigmore said.
“I don’t like to make assumptions about people. I love getting to know them for who they are,” she said. “When there is division, it is difficult to have growth.”
Throughout the hour-long interview, Prigmore gave examples of his ability to communicate well, with teachers reviewing test results, students who don’t understand the need to be in school, and frustrated parents, for example.
“As teachers, we want parents and guardians to stand up for their children, but we get angry when they come to our doors swearing and shouting at us. We have to remember that these parents are always standing up for their children,” she said, citing as one of her strengths the ability to work with people and focus on the main goal of helping a student.
Currently director of attendance and coordinator of the Coordinated School Health program for Alcoa City Schools, Prigmore began her teaching career at Heritage Middle School in Blount County in 2002, after serving as a trainee teacher at Friendsville Elementary. . In addition to teaching at Alcoa Middle School, she served as assessment coordinator and directed Alcoa’s alternative program, the Pershing Academy of Learning, for four years.
Prigmore described how she mentored teachers and organized a “Tornado University” after-school program to help parents understand math standards and prepare to help their children.
She cited examples of engaging civic and faith groups to support students, the fire department for a health program, and Family Promise when students are homeless. She stays abreast of what’s on offer in Nashville, speaks with elected officials to advocate for the schools, and monitors emerging trends in other states.
Prigmore said she plans to continue being involved in local organizations, such as serving on the board of the Blount Memorial Hospital Foundation. “I think it’s a duty to be active in your community,” she said.
“I have lived in Blount County for 47 years. This is my house today, and it will be my house tomorrow. I never see myself leaving,” she told the county school board.
When the board asked for an example of how she initiated positive change in the face of opposition, Prigmore spoke about playing a role on the city’s schools diversity, equity and inclusion committee. ‘Alcoa at the manager’s request, “Even though I knew some of our colleagues, every time they hear the word diversity, we sort of see a roll of their eyes.
Prigmore said it surprised her that in the Blount County community, “We always want to talk about how we love people, but we don’t want to talk about diversity.”
To provide relevant professional development that staff could use inside and outside the classroom, Prigmore said, she built on previous training from a bias consultant and delivered a microaggression training, when people’s intentions don’t match their impact. “We have all committed these microaggressions; it’s not for a specific race or gender,” she said.
“I opened their eyes to a different perspective on our personal actions and behaviors and how it can hinder our relationship with students,” Prigmore said. “Our relationship with the students, if it is not good, will hinder their success in class. Our relationship with the parents, if it is not good, will hinder their willingness to come and be involved and active.
Based on individual feedback and survey results, she said, “It was an absolute hit.”
Prigmore’s interview was moved from the original April 18 schedule after Allen Pratt, executive director of the National Rural Education Association, withdrew as a finalist. The board has not officially set a date for a vote on who will succeed director Rob Britt, who is retiring in June, but earlier discussed a meeting on Monday April 25.