Doe Elementary Students of the Weeks

Thanks to their hard work and diligence, Doe Elementary School leaders of the week, Jaycee Bunting, Harmony McClure, Jada Dugger, Aya McNabb-Bailey Lilly Powell, Emiliano Ramirez, Jadynn Smith Cheyenne Hilliard, Sherri McDaniel, Taylor Dillard, Kaylee Katsaitis, (Toby Johndro not pictured), are enjoying the spotlight last week. The students are encouraged to keep up the good work by means of the weekly recognition ceremony. Photo submitted

Laurel Elementary announces the 2018 – 2019 Teachers of the Year

Laurel Elementary School, Teachers of the Year, Kim Tolliver (left) and Katelin Vincent (right) pose for a photo last week after being recognized for their hard work. Photo submitted

By Tamas Mondovics
Teacher of the Year for grMembers of Laurel Elementary School administration were pleased to announce its teachers of the year last week. The event was celebrated with an awards ceremony recognizing teacher Katelin Stanley Vincent, who teaches Pre K and Kindergarten and Kim Tolliver who teaches grades 5th-6th at Laurel, as Teacher of the Year.

Katelin Stanley Vincent
Vincent is from the Laurel Bloomery area and attended Laurel Elementary School as a child.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education K-6 and a Master degree in Early Childhood Education.

According to school officials Vincent has been teaching at Laurel for three-and-a-years, and hopes that her students will gain a love of learning that they will carry on throughout their lives.

Kim Tolliver
Tolliver is the daughter of Jim and Betty Plummer, from Shady Valley, TN where she lives with her husband Stephen and children, Jaden and Kyla.
In 1988, Tolliver earned a Bachelor of Science degree from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Education from Tusculum in 1996. She has taught Special Education in grades Pre K to sixth grade for three decades in Johnson County and has taught at Laurel Elementary school for the last ten years.
“Tolliver believes that every student can learn and that nothing brings her greater joy than to witness one of her students experience a light bulb moment,” said Laurel Elementary school Principal, Brenda Dishman Eggers, adding, “The longer it takes to get there, the more joyous the moment.”

For more information about Laurel Elementary School please visit,

Stout named Good Neighbor for January 2019

Johnson County Middle School student Connor Stout smiles while he receives his award as the Good Neighbor for January, 2019. Photo submitted

By Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County Middle school student Connor Stout was recently notified that he has been named the Good Neighbor for January, 2019.
Sponsored by the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, each month the award recognizes students in the Middle School who have examplary traits and qualities such as a generous spirit. The award also honors those that are willing to put others before self.
Connor is one of such stidenst and is described as a young man who is a joy to know, who always thinks more about others than himself.
According to teachers and fellow students Connor is both kind and considerate and an example to his peers.
He is said to lead his fellow students in his actions that are a reminder of a time when manners and kindness were of the greatest importance.
Dr. Bob Heath, Principal of JCMS, joined Sheila Cruse, representing Gamma Mu, in presenting letters of
congratulations to Connor last week during an award ceremomy.

Local schools implement ‘Raptor’ visitor management system

By Jill Penley
Providing safety and security in our nation’s schools is a continual effort, and a new system is now operational that is expected to give additional protection to Johnson County students. The electronic system, known as ‘Raptor,’ alerts school officials and local law enforcement if a registered sex offender attempts to enter the building.
“The safety of our students is our highest priority and the Raptor visitor management system allows us to quickly identify those that may present a danger to our students,” explained Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Schools, in a letter distributed to parents. “The Raptor system will better allow us to screen visitors, contractors, and volunteers in our schools and provide us with a safer environment for our students and staff.”
Angie Wills, who serves as safety coordinator and Supervisor of Elementary Education, explained how the process works emphasizing that upon entering a district building, visitors will be asked to present identification such as a state driver’s license, which can either be scanned or manually entered into the system.
“If a parent or guardian for any reason does not have a government-issued ID, the school staff member can use any form of identification and manually enter the person’s name into the Raptor system,” said Wills.
The Raptor system will search a database to ensure that registered sexual offenders are not entering school campuses without knowledge of school administrators. The registered sex offender database is the only official database checked by the Raptor system.
“No other data from the ID is gathered or recorded, and the information is not shared with any outside agency,” said Wills, adding that once entry is approved, Raptor will issue a badge that identifies the visitor, the date, and the purpose of the visit.
“A visitor’s badge will not be necessary for those who visit our schools simply to drop off an item in the office or pick up paperwork,” she said.
Raptor has pioneered many of the most effective school safety technologies in the country since 2002, and is trusted by more K-12 schools than every other system in the country combined.
Over the years, Raptor has reportedly continued to lead the way by expanding into innovative new applications backed by our unrivaled customer service.

For more information, please visit

Dunn gives back to the senior center

Seniors from the Johnson County Senior Center join Cristy Dunn for a special art lesson. They are currently making Valentines’ Day cards for nursing home residents. Dunn leads these types of activities twice a month. Submitted photo.

Roan Creek Elementary Honor Roll 2nd Nine Weeks

All A’s
Lillian Bendon
Emma Costigan
Blake Greene
Tanner Hampton
Fernando Linares
Kitiana Poteat
Gunner Shull
Adalynn Winters

A’s & B’s
Josie Baker
Charlotte Canter
Edith Collette
Leon Gentry
Hazel Luttrell
Lily Potter
Aiden Roush

1st Grade
All A’s
Elijah Beam
Brady Blevins
Vada Clifton
Darren Eggers
Austin Shaw
A’s & B’s
Trina Brewer
Carson Icenhour
Hayden Isaacs
Viviana Robinson

2nd Grade
All A’s
Marley Burgos
Nicholas Cano
Gabriella Crowder
Jenna Forrester
Madison Johnson
Macie Morefield
Olivia Roark
Cameron Snow
Kagen Townsend

A’s & B’s
Joey Bendell
Jacob Bentley
Mason Brown
Emma Cannon
Brie Epperly
Lexie Faircloth
Tyler Fletcher
Winter Hargett
Taylor Jennings
Sophia Meade- Hernandez
Alice Richards
Adam Roush
Karly Seatz
Savannah Simcox
Lindsey Yates

3rd Grade
All A’s
Elsie Clifton
Braiden Folsom
Audrey Shaw
Ariya Toth

A’s & B’s
Ezzy Aguilar
Jake Anderson
Luke Anderson
CJ Brown
Ethan Cannon
Karter Cox
Bradley Henderson
Avonna Humphrey
Claira Porter
Dominic Ruiz
Connor Stout
Dylan Vanover

4th Grade
All A’s
Kayleigh Crotts
Matthew Davis
Kaleigh Dunn
Ciara Garr
Daniel Gunter
Tyler Hicks
Aiden Holdaway
Cora Johnson
Catie McFadden
Trevor Rawls

A’s & B’s
Riley Brown
Allie Colson
Jay Cornett
Grayson Espinoza
Emily Ibarra
Laura Icenhour
Bella Justice
Chris Key
Roma Lipford
John McCranie
Maria Olmedo
Anna Potter
Chloe Rhymer
Marley Snyder
Jack South
Lyla Williams

5th Grade
All A’s
Liddy Arnold
Madeline Bendon
Ansley Clifton
Josie Cox
Layla Crotts
Jack Csillag
Kloi Hopkins
Elizabeth Jennings
Shayla Sileo
Destiny Stout
Chloe Sutherland
Trinity Winters

A’s & B’s
Zoe Epperly
Landon Greene
Abel Johnson
Christian Lysiak
Parker Miller
Emily Roark

6th Grade
All A’s
Jack Able
Jackson Clifton
Savanna Dowell
Emma Eller
Flor Hernandez
Gunner Hutchins
A.J. Laing
Zahlan McNeal
Lanie Mink
Amberlynn Reece
Desirea Robinson
Trinity Slimp
Stephen Swift
Marley Townsend
Addison Ward

A’s & B’s
Elijah Anderson
Tyler Campbell
Alana Gaud
Bailee Grindstaff
Kylie Hampton
Johnathan Jennings
Hannah Johnson
Meleah Johnson
Maleia Leonard
Kylie Morefield
Sarah Morris
Anna Porter
Owen Price
Vincent Stout
Johnalyn Yates

Emily Blankenship is Laurel’s Fifth Grade Student of Week

Emily Blankenship was chosen by her peers as fifth grade student of the week at Laurel Elementary School. Emily’s favorite subject is math. She enjoys reading books at home. Her favorite books are the Magic Tree House. She likes to talk with her friends. When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor. Congrats Emily. Photo submitted

East Tenn. Foundation Announces Scholarship Opportunities for Johnson County Students

Scholarships available for the 2019-2020 school year

By Tamas Mondovics

Scholarships available for the 2019-2020 school year

East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) a public charity and community foundation created by and for the people of East Tennessee announced last week that its 2019 scholarship opportunities include 15 scholarships for Johnson County students for the 2019-2020 school year.

According to ETF Vice President for Scholarship Programs, Beth Heller, the scholarship program requirements range from financial needs to academic achievement.
“Several scholarships are targeted toward specific schools or counties, particular fields of study, students involved in certain extracurricular activities,” Heller said.

The program also works for those who may not display the highest scholastic rankings yet still possess great potential and motivation.

The two we discussed are the two that are available to Johnson County residents ONLY. There are
additional scholarships available to Johnson County Residents that are also available to residents of other counties.
I have attached the list.
The two scholarships available for Johnson County residents only are the Johnson County Education Growth (JCEG) and the Johnson County Scholarship Fund, JCSF).

“Scholarships administered by ETF allow individuals and groups to honor loved ones while helping change the lives of those pursuing higher education,”

Heller explained that the additional scholarships available to Johnson County Residents are also available to residents of other counties. “Scholarships administered by ETF allow individuals and groups to honor loved ones while helping change the lives of those pursuing higher education,” she said.
JCEG is a $1,000 per year award for two years and was established in 2002 through a gift from the Levi Strauss Foundation with support from Johnson County businesses, banks, individuals, and the Johnson County Community Foundation to provide a source of financial aid to Johnson County residents.

ETF is awarding six JCEG scholarships for the 2019-2020 school year.
The second scholarship JCF available for Johnson County residents for the 2019-2020, school year is an $8,000 per year award for four years.

“JCF was established in 2000, by anonymous donors to provide Johnson County High School graduates the opportunity to continue their education at the college or university of their choice,” Heller said. “The donors desire to recognize those students who may not have the highest academic rankings, but who have the potential to successfully complete college.

All this, of course, is good news for the region. The EFT scholarships have been established to honor the memory of a parent, spouse, or child. “Some have been founded to honor teachers, coaches, or prominent community leaders,” Heller said, adding, it feels great to know that the community cares about their students and to have a hand in assisting many to “reach their potential through higher education.”

For additional information about the scholarships available through ETF, please visit

Information and applications for 2019 are available at The application deadline is February 15, 2019.

For more information, visit


Doe Elementary School Celebrates its leaders

Doe Elementary School students enjoy some time in the spotlight as leaders of the week. The school’s “Leader in Me”! initiative selects students as leaders from each homeroom and recognizing them throughout the week. Back row (left to right): Abby Garland and Aaron Ferguson. Front row (left to right): November Gates, Audrina Lynch, Kiera Webb, & Addison Leonard. Not pictured: Karlie Lipford. Photo Submitted

Chant is student of the week

Mrs. Savery’s class at Laurel Elementary School chose Hailey Chant as this week’s student. Hailey’s favorite subjects are math and science. She likes to ride her bike, joke around and watch movies with her friends. Hailey enjoys sports such as basketball, softball and soccer. When she grows up, Hailey wants to be in the WNBA. Congrats Hailey. Photo Submitted

Schwinn to lead the Tennessee Department of Education

By Tamas Mondovics

“Penny leads with students at the forefront and I believe her experience is exactly what we need to continue improving on the gains we have made in the past few years,” said Lee. “As a former teacher and seasoned administrator, she will help make Tennessee a leader in the nation on education.”

Schwinn currently serves as the chief deputy commissioner of education at the Texas Education Agency. In this role, she pursued a series of reforms including the transformation of a failing state assessment program. She also implemented the expansion of statewide externships and pathway development for improving students’ career readiness upon graduation.

Prior to her work in Texas, Schwinn served as the Delaware Department of Education chief accountability and performance officer, conducting a testing audit that led to nearly a 20 percent decrease in student testing time.

She is also the founder of South Sacramento charter school Capitol Collegiate Academy, a Broad Academy alumni and a Teach for America alumni.

Additionally, Schwinn oversaw the development of open-source instructional materials to empower teachers with high-quality resources for teaching. Prior to serving in the Texas Education Agency, Schwinn was the chief accountability and performance officer for the Delaware Department of Education where she led efforts to conduct a testing audit, which led to nearly a 20 percent decrease in student testing time.

A former teacher, Schwinn taught with Teach for America (TFA) from 2004-2007 with work in Baltimore City Public Schools and Los Angeles. She is also the founder of Capitol Collegiate Academy, a charter school that serves low-income students in South Sacramento.

According to WBUR in Boston, and as reported by the Tenneseean, Schwinn was one of three finalists for the job of Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

Tennesseans for Student Success issued the following statement on Tennessee’s new Commissioner of Education:
“Congratulations to Penny Schwinn as she is named Tennessee’s next Commissioner of Education,” said Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister. “Over the last eight years, Tennessee experienced
historic gains in public education, and the next Commissioner will have an opportunity to continue to advance the policies that drive success for all students in Tennessee’s classrooms.”

On November 7, the transition unveiled a new website – The site includes detailed information about the Governor-elect’s policy priorities, a section where Tennesseans can submit their
resumes to potentially join his team, and most importantly, a section where Tennesseans can share their ideas with the Governor-elect and his team.

Since launching the site, the Lee Transition Team has received information from over 1,600 applicants who are interested in serving in the administration and more than 2,500 ideas for bettering state government.

More information can be found at

Patriot Pen winners

Johnson County Middle School students Vanessa Perkins and Paula Harper along with by Doe Elementary student Audrey Decker are first second and third place winners, respectively, of the recently held Patriot Pen Essay Contest. The Worley Hall VFW Post 6908 Auxiliary is proud of the girls and thanks all participants of the event. Submitted photo.

Doe Elementary Leaders of the week

Front row (left to right): Asia Stanley, Rayne Williams, Hailey Adams, Patience Harris, Mason Wilson Back row (left to right): Kale Cox, Trevor McCloud, Braylan Stewart, Isabella Bunting, Eric Branch,
Mr. Herbie Adams, Bradley Wilson. Submitted photo.

Laurel Elementary, Laurel Leader

Elige Norris is 4 years old and in Pre-K. He is the son of Carmella Main and Joby Norris. His favorite part of school is playing outside with his friends. He wants to be a chef when he grows up because he wants to cook lots of great stuff. Elige says he is a Laurel leader because he follows directions and makes
smart choices. Submitted photo.

Johnson County resident named to Dean’s Distinguished List

Pippa Passes, Kentucky—Isaiah Kane Penley of Mountain City was named to the Dean’s Distinguished List for the Fall 2018 semester at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky.
The Dean’s Distinguished List is an academic honor awarded to students taking fifteen credits hours or more, who achieved a semester GPA of 3.75-3.99.50 on a 4.0 scale.
Penley is a sophomore majoring in History. He is the son of Mike and Jill Penley and a 2017 graduate of Johnson County High School.
Alice Lloyd College, located in Pippa Passes, KY, was founded in 1923 by Alice Lloyd and June Buchanan. Alice Lloyd College is committed to providing a quality education to mountain students regardless of their financial situation. In fact, Alice Lloyd is consistently listed among the nation’s leaders in graduating students with the least amount of average debt. Having been founded as “a college for Appalachia,” every qualified student from ALC’s 108-county service area is awarded the Appalachian Leaders College Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition for up to ten semesters. The College further assists students after they graduate from ALC, through the Caney Cottage Scholarship Program, the only program of its kind in the nation. This program financially assists qualified alumni from ALC’s 108-county service area in Central Appalachia at graduate or professional schools upon completion of their program at Alice Lloyd College.
For more information about Alice Lloyd College, visit

Mountain City Elementary announces Teachers of the Year

Mountain City Elementary Teachers of the Year, Paula Stewart, left, and Faye Baker, right. Submitted photo.

Mountain City Elementary is pleased to announce its “Teachers of the Year” for the school year, 2019-2020. Representing grades PreK-4th is Mrs. Faye Baker, and Mrs. Paula Stewart has been selected to represent grades 5th-6th.
Mrs. Baker, a Pre-K/Headstart teacher, attended Northeast State University and East Tennessee State University. She holds an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, Pre-K- 3rd grade. Mrs. Baker is currently in her ninth year of teaching.
Mrs. Stewart is the school counselor at Mountain City Elementary. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. Additionally, she holds an Educational Specialist Degree in Counselor Leadership from ETSU. Mrs. Stewart has served Mountain City Elementary has counselor for fifteen years.
The school wishes to congratulate Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Stewart on receiving
the honor of Teacher of the Year.

School bus safety laws remain an issue with Tennessee drivers

By Jill Penley

Winter weather, increases in commuter speed and the ongoing transportation of students to and from school via the school bus can be dangerous, and sometimes deadly, combination. Following the 2016 deadly school bus crash in Chattanooga, questions continue to be raised on both the state and federal levels about whether safety policies and regulations are effective enough or if they need an overhaul.
Even closer to home, in late November, a car while boarding a school bus in Washington County, TN, when a driver allegedly failed to yield to a stopped school bus hit a 10-year-old boy. Authorities said the bus was stopped with its lights flashing and arm extended. The boy was crossing the road when a passing car traveling in the opposite direction struck him. Crystal Buchanan, 41, was charged with felony reckless endangerment and failure to yield to a stopped school bus following the crash.
“In light of all the tragic school bus accidents that have happened across our nation some of which have resulted in serious injury and death,” said Johnson County Schools Transportation Supervisor, Barry Bishop. “It is sobering to realize most could have been prevented if drivers would obey the laws and stop when the stop arm and red lights on our school buses are activated.”
Tonya Townsend, who drives a school bus for Johnson County Schools, indicates she witnesses drivers who blatantly disregard traffic laws quite often. “My stop arm has been run several times and, it is so dangerous,” said Townsend. “People are
not paying attention, and it is putting our children at risk.”
Distracted driving remains another safety issue. State law made it illegal to talk on cellphone while driving through an active school zone last January; however, Greg Tramel, public information officer for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, describes an “active school zone” as “any marked school zone in this state, when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation.” The active times for school zones vary but can range between the times of 7:15-8: 15 am and 3:15-4: 15 pm. The law pertains to all motor vehicles including drivers of passenger vehicles and commercial drivers. Texting while driving became illegal in Tennessee in 2009.
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDE) student transportation appropriately put bus safety the department’s number one priority. According to TDE data, Tennessee schools transport approximately 700,000 students a day on about 8,700 bus routes in districts and
charters across the diverse terrain of city, urban, and rural routes.
By exercising extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones. Each school in Johnson County has site-specific drop-off and pick-up procedures.
All motorists must stop when red lights on the bus are flashing, and the stop arm is extended. They should remain at a complete stop until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before resuming.
Some confusion exists as to multi-lane roads such as along Tennessee Highway 421, which has four lanes of traffic-two in each direction with a shared median. State law requires drivers from all directions to stop when a school bus is stopped at an intersection to load and unload students. When driving on a highway with separate roadways for traffic in opposite directions, drivers must stop unless there is a grass median or physical barrier.
In an effort to further enforce school transportation safety, the Johnson County Board of Education continues to utilize Buster, the School Bus, an educational robot on loan from Tennessee Risk Management, the school system’s insurance provider. Introduced during the recent Mountain City Christmas Parade, Buster will be visiting the county’s elementary schools during January to discuss bus safety with the students. Buster has yellow caution lights; red stoplights with a stop arm and even speak to help students learn how to stay safe when loading and unloading on our school buses.

Choral Teacher Shares Love of Music with Students


By Jill Penley

A variety of opportunities exist for Johnson County students to develop their musical talents including a comprehensive choral music
program. At the helm is Nathan Jones, a 2017 King College, who knew from a very early age, he was destined to teach and direct choral music.

“I am honored to teach general and choral music at JCHS and JCMS,” said Jones, who grew up in Norton, Virginia. “I think it is wonderful that JCHS has a band and achoral program and I hope Mrs. Cole (the band director) and I can collaborate together more frequently.”

Around 45 students take part in Jones’ two chorus classes, one at the high school called the Johnson County High School Longhorn Chorus, and one at the middle school called the Johnson County Middle School Singers. Jones also leads an additional after-school group, dubbed “Vocal Intensity,” comprised of middle and high school students who did not get the opportunity to sign up for chorus classes.

“I think my students are very lucky to have a vocal music program at the secondary school level,” said Jones, “and I’m honored to get to teach it.”

Many small rural schools eliminate vocal music class after the elementary level.

“The school I went to did not have chorus past 7th grade,” remarked Jones, who also teaches general music classes at the middle school and a guitar class at the high school.

“These classes keep me motivated to learn more about music history and music theory,” said Jones, “and it is very amazing having a class of beginning guitarists who after a few short months, are already playing real songs together in an ensemble and on their own.”

While in college, Jones performed with an a cappella group “All The King’s Men” directed by Professor Shea A. Clay.

“I majored in voice and also studied piano along with my education classes,” explained Jones. “King is the only school in Northeast Tennessee that has a 100 percent placement rate for music education graduates since the program was introduced in the early 2000s.”

Jones has already led two concerts this school year. “I try to have a theme picked out for each of my shows,” he said.

For the October concert, since it was performed near Halloween, Jones chose Broadway and film music and encouraged students to dress as their favorite characters. For the recent Christmas concert, the performance highlighted familiar holiday classics. Jones has already scheduled two additional concerts for next semester.

“In March, I am planning a Celtic celebration or maybe a concert on world music in general,” said Jones, “and for May, we will see what happens.”

For about Johnson County High School visit