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New principal says teachers are “difference-makers”

I am humbled and honored to be joining the Bearden High School community and look forward to working alongside you in providing our students with an excellent educational experience and preparation.

Lead Dogs: The Bearden administrative team for the 2019- 20 school year includes 9th Grade Asst. Principal Cara Vaughn, 11th grade Asst. Principal Donald Balcom, Principal Debbie Sayers, 10th Grade Asst. Principal Candace Greer, 12th Grade Asst. Principal Rod Crockett, and Curriculum Principal Cassandra Dowd.

My educational career has centered on high school students. It began in 1987 at an inner-city senior high school in Jackson, Michigan, where I taught all levels of science and coached volleyball, boys and girls cross country, and girls track. My husband Kendall and I moved to Knoxville in 1991. I stayed home with our two children for several years before returning to the classroom in January 2002 as an interim biology teacher at West High School.

The following fall, I taught all levels of chemistry, and began the first of my eleven years as an AP teacher. 2008 found me at Hardin Valley Academy, where I served as STEM Academy Dean and lead teacher. I acted as the facilitator for the chemistry and AP/Honors professional learning communities, and taught Honors PWC, Honors Chemistry, and AP Chemistry. During that time, I mentored over 200 Senior Portfolio students and established partnerships with engineers and scientists in the Knoxville/UTK/Oak Ridge corridor.

I served as an AP reader for four years, a test item writer and reviewer for the ACT/PLAN/Explore tests, and wrote a lab for the AP Chemistry Lab Manual during the re-design of the course in 2013. That fall, I moved to Farragut High School where I served as curriculum principal for two years before traveling across town to Central High School to take on the role of grade level principal.

I firmly believe that the magic happens in the classroom and that teachers are difference-makers in a student’s life. Educators have the extremely

important job of providing our young people with the skills and knowledge to be successful in life after high school - college, career, and participation in our global society. The partnership between parents, community members, teachers, and school support staff will help our children pursue and realize their “grown-up” dreams with Bulldog grit and perseverance.

My two children are beneficiaries of such teamwork. Our son Tyler graduated from West High School in 2009 and our daughter Leslie graduated from Bearden High School in 2010. Both were well prepared for life after high school, going on to earn bachelor’s degrees from UTC and ultimately finding rewarding jobs in their respective fields. I remain grateful to the educators who challenged and supported them along the way.

Please know that as principal of Bearden High School, I believe it is my job to treat your children as my own, and to make decisions which will be in their best long-term interest. Working together, I know we can influence our current and future students as profoundly as my own children (especially my daughter) were impacted.

I look forward to meeting you and learning more about the Bearden High School community. I am truly excited to say, “Go Dawgs!”

Debbie Sayers Principal, Bearden High School


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