New faces join Weakley County School System

With the new fiscal year underway, new faces have joined the Weakley County school district and some familiar faces have new roles.

In the district central office in Dresden are Karen Campbell as the newly-established communications director; Terri Stephenson, who has come from Martin Elementary to fill the elementary supervisor of instruction position; and Lindsey Parham filling the role of supervisor of Career Technical Education.

Two new principals — Jeff Cupples and Patresa Rogers — will officially begin next week.Campbell returned to her native Greenfield two years ago after a two-year commitment to Peace Corps in Costa Rica where she taught in a public school and then assisted the national ministry of education in developing a new English curriculum. She has 35 years of communications experience that spans work with faith groups, nonprofits, and government entities. Since her return to Weakley County, she has written for the Weakley County Press and freelanced.

“Working for The Press, I discovered the outstanding work that is occurring in our Weakley County schools and want very much to ensure that those stories get told,” said Campbell. “I’m looking forward to strengthening our presence with our community media outlets and invite everyone to follow us on Facebook, and our new presence on Twitter and Instagram.”

Parham is also coming home to Weakley County. She is a native of Palmersville and now lives in Dresden. For the past 11 years, she served as an ag teacher in McKenzie and for 8 of those years, did double duty as the CTE director for the McKenzie Special School District.

Parham counts starting the ag program after 20 years of dormancy as one of her biggest accomplishments. She was able to build a greenhouse, a shop and an irrigated map, currently home to more than 750 potted mums.

As for what lies ahead, Parham is eager to begin. “We are going to bring Early Post Secondary Opportunities (EPSOs) like statewide, dual-credit courses, Tennessee-specific industry certifications in agriculture and family and consumer sciences to our schools and build industry partnerships in our area to fill workforce needs.”

As Stephenson steps into her role as supervisor of instruction for elementary schools, she’ll be bringing a perspective of both teacher and principal. She has been in third- and fourth-grade classrooms and served as the principal at Lake County and Martin Elementary schools.

When asked what she left behind, the Martin resident spoke to the vision she instilled with teachers and students.

“Everyone embraced the vision for all students to lead, learn and grow,” she noted, adding the impact character education had played in students’ desire to learn. “The students felt loved and with those things in place they want to come to school.”

In her new role, Stephenson is already looking at best practices to continue the strides made with the Read to Be Ready program that has recently faced funding problems at the state level. She is also anticipating growth in students’ conceptual understanding of math and offerings that will provide hands-on opportunities to develop a sense of math.

Working with Stephenson will be Megan Moore who will serve as the K-5 District Math Coach. Moore taught 13 years at Martin Elementary in the third and fourth grades.

While now a Martin resident, Moore did not grow up in Weakley County schools and, though math is her favorite subject to teach, did not always have the kind of experience in the classroom she hopes to now help create.

“I live by a mantra to always try to teach like my math teacher didn’t teach. When I was in school, I did a lot of rote memorization and practice, practice, practice — nothing exciting or applicable,” she recounted. “I like to use real-world situations that my kids can relate to and make math engaging.

“My biggest goal in this role is to be able to collaborate with, support and assist the K-5 teachers in the county to create the best possible math education we can,” she added

New Greenfield principal Jeff Cupples is a native of Henderson and served as assistant principal at Chester County High School for the last eight years. Prior to that administrative role, he was head football coach and taught U.S. history. The school had between 800 and 900 students during his tenure, and recently, school safety had been a high priority. Cupples oversaw the initiation of several security measures, including training faculty, upgrading electronic locks, and installing ballistic glass in the office.

When asked about his plans for Greenfield, Cupples enthusiastically offered several areas he plans to look into.

“I often tell my kids, just because you’re in a small town, I don’t want you to have small opportunities,” he explained and then listed CTE outside of the existing agriculture and business options now offered, partnerships with area businesses and industries and EPSOs as examples of potential means by which to broaden the opportunities for Greenfield students.

Rogers, who is stepping into the vacancy left by Stephenson’s departure at Martin Elementary, is returning home to Weakley County — though she never actually moved from her native Martin as she commuted for 17 years as an elementary teacher in Dresden classrooms and then more than a decade as first an assistant principal and then principal in Obion County.

As an administrator, she counts as one of her strengths the ability to bring community resources into the school. Initiating a Facebook presence and making sure classroom accomplishments were shared with the public were among her accomplishments in Obion County.

“At Martin Elementary, I want to build on the strong academic excellence in the classroom and pushing the students to the highest possible level,” she said.

“What I want to accomplish most is to build on my love and passion for the kids and watching them succeed and overcome struggles and to watch bonds grow with parents and the community.”

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