It is hard for Sheila Terrell to walk into a school without a student, or staff member, calling out her name. Either as their teacher or their assistant principal, all are quick to reflect on her influence and her care for them. Now, she will be seen in all elementary schools throughout the district as she provides support in curriculum, instruction, and school leadership.
Terrell is the newest member of the Knox County Public Schools leadership team, earning the title of Director of Elementary Education given her teaching and leadership background.
“My elementary background includes two years in Harlan County in grades first and third,” said Terrell. “For the next 28 years, I spent my time at Jesse D. Lay Elementary. I taught split classes the first two years then for the next 17 years I taught second grade. For the last nine years at Lay, I was the curriculum coach. During my tenure at Lay, I served on many district curriculum committees.”
From Lay she moved into school leadership by joining the Knox County Middle School family. In 2017 she became assistant principal at the school.
“Since becoming the assistant principal at KCMS, I think I have had the biggest growth in instructional leadership and creating a climate conducive to learning,” shared Terrell.
“While at KCMS I watched as Mr. Ledford demonstrated how to be an effective principal by ensuring that the school put learning at the center of their daily activities. We pride ourselves on having a school characterized by safety and orderliness as well as a supportive and responsive attitude toward the students. Teachers are part of a community of professionals focused on good instruction at KCMS.”
Her new title comes with lots of responsibility as Superintendent Jeremy Ledford looks to align curriculum and policy among elementary schools. He also has challenged her with the task of bringing the pride of Knox County Middle into every school.
“I think my growth as an instructional leader will benefit me because I will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in our schools and develop a plan with our principals to move all our schools forward. I want to foster a culture of excellence at every elementary school,” said Terrell.
“We will work together to make every school in Knox County a high-performing school. It’s my goal to work with teachers and administrators to develop a culture of excellence and empower our students to be their very best.”
Terrell said that she is excited to get into classrooms and begin having conversations with teachers, instructional aides, and other school staff. She hopes that they will see her presence in their building as one of support and providing services or resources to grow them professionally.
“I think the biggest support I can offer teachers is to be there when they need me. I want them to see me as a resource,” said Terrell.
“Sometimes it may be just an ear to listen. Sometimes it may be help reaching that “one child”. My goal is to be very visible in the schools. I will always be just a phone call or email away. Together we can develop a plan to move all our students forward.”
Moving students and the school district forward is one thing that Terrell is passionate about. Born and raised in Knox County, she graduated from Knox Central and nearby University of the Cumberlands. She has been married to her husband, Tim, for 39 years and they have two daughters, Tiffany and Tabitha. Following in their mother’s footsteps, both teach at Jesse D. Lay Elementary.
“I have six grandchildren, five that are currently enrolled in Knox County Schools. It’s for them that I want to continue working to make us an elite district in the state. I want them to be proud to say I attend Knox County Schools,” said Terrell.
As she fixes her eyes on the future of Knox County Public Schools, she is quick to give thanks to those that have empowered and encouraged her along the way.
“I want to thank Jeff Frost for giving me the opportunity to be the curriculum coach at Lay School. It gave me the opportunity to work with teachers to better instruction and to get a small taste of what it was like in administration. His guidance and trust in me gave me the confidence to work towards becoming a principal,” said Terrell.
She also spoke highly of her middle school supervisor and now district office supervisor.
“I could never thank Mr. Ledford enough for trusting me to be his assistant principal at Knox Middle. I learned so much from him. He was a great mentor that taught me what great leadership looked like. His work ethic is unparalleled and his commitment to Knox County kids is unquestionable. It’s those traits I hope to emulate in this new position.”
“I truly believe we can be a top 10% district in the state. I’m proud of my Knox County heritage and want to pass that pride on to our current students.”