Arnold, Brock battling for school directorship

Published 12:06 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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The Claiborne School Board has narrowed the competition to fill the position of Director of Schools to two candidates. The first round of the decision-making process occurred during the regular monthly meeting of the board on May 11.

Meredith Arnold, who is the current principal of Claiborne High, and Melissa Brock, principal of H.Y. Livesay Middle School, were chosen to move forward.

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The final decision is expected to be made during the June 8 school board meeting.

The board spent well over four hours on May 8 getting better acquainted with the four semi-finalists – Arnold, Brock, former Soldiers Memorial Middle School principal Lynn Barnard and Richard Gambrel, who is the current SMMS principal.

During that protracted meeting, the four spoke eloquently of their vision for county kids.

Arnold, who grew up on a Claiborne County farm, said she adheres to four leadership qualities – integrity, personal security, sense of priority and planning for the future.

She said her vision is to work together with staff and parents to ensure that students have the opportunity for a successful future.

An educator for nearly 28 years, Arnold has 19 years in school administration. She was hired as principal of Claiborne High five years ago and set to work correcting the financial issues plaguing the campus. Arnold reported that the school is no longer in debt.

Brock has spent the last 26 years as an educator and says that a strong school system is paramount to the success of our county.

H.Y. Livesay was a state ‘focus school’ when Brock came onboard as assistant principal under then-principal Karyn Clark. In just one year, the two women worked together to turn the designation around and bump the campus to a ‘rewards school’ – one of two campuses inside Claiborne County to do so.

Brock says her vision is to foster a “relationship-driven culture” by improving communication between every sector of the school district that includes the school board, parents, administration and the students.

During the voting process, Gambrel was eliminated early as the board made their individual choices for the two semi-finalists. A tie breaker between Barnard and Brock was needed to decide the second candidate that would move on to the final selection. That decision was a tight one with a four-to-three outcome in favor of Brock.

Board members Juanita Honeycutt, Neta Munsey, Linda Fultz and Shannon England voted for Brock while Shane Bunch, Mike Reece and Wade Breeding voted for Barnard.

The board will vote for the next Director of Schools during its regularly scheduled board meeting on June 8, beginning at 6 p.m. at Cumberland Gap High School.