TENNESSEE STATEWIDE AMBER ALERT: Elizabeth Thomas | Click for details from TBI.

Career Opportunities - State Special Schools

Full-Time Openings

Superintendent – Tennessee School for the Blind

Reports To:             

Dr. Kathleen Airhart, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operations Officer


115 Stewarts Ferry Pike           
Nashville, TN 37214

Position Description:     

To provide leadership in developing and maintaining the best possible educational programs and services at the Tennessee School for the Blind.

The leadership responsibilities of the Tennessee School for the Blind shall extend to all activities at the school, to all phases of the educational program, to all aspects of the financial operation, to all parts of the physical plant, and to the conduct of such other duties as may be assigned by the Commissioner and/or designee. The superintendent may delegate these duties together with appropriate authority, but may not delegate nor relinquish ultimate responsibility for results or any portion of accountability.

Specific Position Responsibilities:

General Administrative
  • Provides leadership in identification of priorities and assures that all activities reflect those priorities.
  • Prepares and recommends short- and long-range plans and implements those plans when approved by Commissioner and/or designee.
  • Recommends drafts of new policies or changes. Anticipates potential problems. Recommends policies or courses of staff action.
  • Develops administrative procedures to implement policy or for the items deemed necessary for the efficient operation of the school and disseminates these procedures to appropriate staff.
  • Ensures that all local, state/federal standards for the health and safety of the students and staff are maintained and that required reports are maintained.
  • Fulfills all statutory obligations and implements the education law of the State of Tennessee and the rules and regulations of the State Board.
Financial Management
  • Provides direction to and supervision of school business functions. Encourages development and implementation of sound business practices. Continually assesses business practices to achieve efficiency.
  • Prepares annually, a budget and submits it to the TDOE finance officer for approval. Presents approved budget to the funding body for adoption.
  • Makes appropriate written reports detailing all receipts and expenditures of the school’s funds and submits them accordingly.
  • Ensures that funds are spent prudently by providing adequate control and accounting of the school’s financial and physical resources.
Personnel Administration
  • Employs such personnel as may be necessary within the limits of budgetary provisions and recommends to the Commissioner teachers who are eligible for tenure.
  • Develops recruitment procedures to assure well-qualified applicants for professional and nonprofessional positions.
  • Assigns and transfers employees as the interest of the school may dictate and reports such action to the TDOE human resources office for information and record.
  • Holds meetings of teachers and other employees as necessary for the discussion of matters concerning the welfare and improvement of the school.
  • Communicates to staff directly or through delegation, all actions of the department relating to personnel matters.
  • Evaluates principals annually.
Instructional Leadership
  • Administers as chief school executive, the development and maintenance of a positive educational program designed to meet the needs of the community and to carry out policies. Ensures that a system of thorough and efficient education, as defined by state law, is available to all students.
  • Recommends to the Commissioner and/or designee all courses of study, curriculum guides and major changes in tests and time schedules to be used in the schools.
  • Oversees the timely revisions of all curriculum guides and courses of study.
  • Develops guidelines and direction for monitoring the effectiveness of existing and new programs.
  • Conducts a periodic audit of the total school program and advises the Commissioner and/or designee of recommendations for the educational advancement of the school.
  • Seeks out available sources for grant funding to support programs and projects.
  • Ensures that the goals of the school are adequately reflected in educational programming and operations.
Community/Public Relations
  • Promotes community support of the school. Interprets programs and services, reports plans, events and activities of interest and solicits community opinions regarding school and educational issues.
  • Identifies available community resources and links to social service agencies that support education and healthy child development.
  • Develops strategies to promote parental involvement in their children's education and provides opportunities for parent-teacher interaction.
  • Maintains contact and good relations with local media. In conjunction with the TDOE communications team, acts as the school’s spokesperson.
  • Ensures that the school’s interests will be represented in meetings and activities of the TDOE.
  • Represents the school and its interests in community organizations, activities and projects.


Candidates must hold a Master’s Degree or higher, Tennessee teaching and administrative licenses and/or meet the teaching and administrative licensing requirements. Candidates must also have a minimum of five years of district- or school-level leadership experience, preferably in a Principal role or higher. Preference will be given to candidates who hold a blind endorsement and/or have direct experience working with visually impaired student body.

Candidate may live in the provided on-campus housing or reside within the immediate Nashville vicinity.

Successful candidate will exhibit the following:
  • Excellence
  • Optimism
  • Sound Judgment
  • Courage
  • Teamwork

Salary and Benefits:

Salary is competitive and commensurate with qualifications. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included.

To Apply:

Please e-mail a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references to Kathleen.Airhart@tn.gov. Applications are due by March 17th.

Pursuant to the State of TN's policy of non-discrimination, the Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, or military services in its policies, or in the admission of, access to, treatment, or employment in its programs, services, or activities.

Superintendent, Tennessee School for the Deaf/West Tennessee School for the Deaf


  • Tennessee School for the Deaf
    2725 Island Home Boulevard
    Knoxville, TN 37920
  • West Tennessee School for the Deaf
    100 Berryhill Drive
    Jackson, TN 38301

The Tennessee School for the Deaf (TSD) and the West Tennessee School for the Deaf (WTSD) have a rich and extensive history of serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing students since 1844. They are the only state special schools in Tennessee specifically designed to offer specialized instruction to students who are Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing. The schools currently serve approximately 300 students in its academic programs.  TSD also has a residential program. TSD partners with local education agencies (LEA) across the state to provide transportation for its students. The main campus of TSD also houses a Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing that offers services to public school systems, to eligible, private non-profit agencies, and to state special schools across the state.  Finally, TSD and WTSD offer an Outreach Program to districts across the state. These services include assessment in the areas of hearing, academics, psychology, and interpreting as well as direct service in these same areas. It is the role of the Superintendent to manage the daily functionality of the school to include the academic instruction, residential program, resource center, outreach program, maintenance department, food service, healthcare, and procurement.

In the current organizational structure, the Superintendent is supported by a Director of Instruction, Director of Student Life, Director of Comprehensive Education Resource Center, Director of Business and Support Services, and Director of Facilities Management.  The State Board of Education has delegated the governing authority of the Tennessee School for the Deaf to the Commissioner of Education, who is appointed by the Governor. The schools are managed by a Superintendent who reports to the Commissioner of Education through the Deputy Commissioner Chief Operating Officer.

To obtain more information, please see: www.tsdeaf.org or http://www.wtsd.tn.org.


  1. Oversee the daily operation of the instructional programs, residential program, Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, LEA outreach services, maintenance, food services, health services, and security.
  2. Ensure that the Tennessee State Standards are maintained and followed.
  3. Ensure compliance with all federal and state statutes and regulations.
  4. Provide supervision and coordinate oversight for approximately 250 employees at both campuses.
    1. All certified staff must be evaluated through the state’s TEAM evaluation model while all classified staff, including Educational Assistants, must be evaluated via the state’s SMART goal system.
  5. Collaborate with Department of Education to develop a working budget and a five-year plan of operation. This includes:
    1. Management and reconciliation of each fiscal year’s budget(s).
    2. Forecasted improvement planning based on student-level achievement data, staff professional development needs, campus upgrades, and etc.
  6. Collaborate with Department of Education, Department of General Services Administration, architects, construction contractors and vendors during design and completion of capital projects (greater than $100,000) and major maintenance projects (less than $100,000). Current projects include:
    1. Cottage upgrades,
    2. New Central Dining Hall, High School, and Library at the TSD campus
    3. Administrative housing renovation
  7. Collaborate with universities and teacher training programs to conduct research benefiting the educational needs of students challenged by hearing loss and to provide field experience for students pursuing careers in the field of deaf education.
  8. Maintain positive and productive relationships with TSD Alumni, community, advocacy groups, parents, faculty, staff, and students.

Strategic Priority:

The Tennessee Department of Education has placed an emphasis on improved achievement and post-secondary outcomes for students with disabilities. Moreover, we expect to see faster growth for students who are the furthest behind. Thus, the Superintendent must be well-versed and competent in both the management of daily operations and the delivery of high-quality academic instruction.  


Applicants must hold a Master’s Degree or higher, Tennessee teaching and administrative licenses and/or meet the teaching and administrative licensing requirements. Candidates must also have a minimum of five years of district- or school-level leadership experience, preferably at a Principal role or higher. Preference is given to applicants who hold a Deaf endorsement and/or have direct experience working with students with hearing loss.

Compensation will be commensurate with experience, and there is on-campus housing available for the Superintendent.

Candidates should be knowledgeable of:
  • Principles, practices, concerns, and trends of school administration, management, and educational issues in serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing students;
  • Fiscal planning & oversight, personnel management, strategic planning, curriculum and instruction, facilities planning, community relations, and legislative relations;
  • Early intervention and early intervention strategies;
  • Transition services;
  • Local, state, and national programs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; and
  • Deaf culture needs and issues.
  • Knowledgeable of the bilingual philosophy and has the ability to implement bilingual best practices in education.
Candidates must possess the abilities and interpersonal skills to:
  • Communicate fluently in American Sign Language;
  • Promote and ensure academic and instructional excellence in all educational programs according to rigorous content and performance standards for all students served;
  • Develop and implement procedures to ensure quality control of all programs and services;
  • Promote parent and community partnerships and involvement in school activities;
  • Maintain general oversight and monitor business functions of a state operated agency including all budgetary functions, and plant operation’s needs;
  • Promote and implement appropriate personnel practices and labor relations policies; and
  • Establish and maintain effective communications with all constituency groups to integrate the activities of diverse interests to attain common goals.

Recruitment and Selection Procedure:

Recruitment for this position is being conducted throughout the United States.  A screening committee will review and evaluate the qualifications and supplemental materials submitted by the applicants.  Candidates determined to be the most qualified will be invited to interview on campus.

Statement of Qualifications Items:

  • Describe two (2) of your most significant professional accomplishments related to programs serving Deaf and Hard of hearing students in the K-12 education system.
  • Describe your leadership or management style.  Cite examples in which you have directed the activities of a diverse group to meet specific goals.
  • Identify the processes and methods you use to lead, manage, and evaluate the use of curriculum for educating Deaf and Hard of hearing students.
  • Briefly describe your experience(s) in each of the following areas:
    • Working effectively with school personnel in a variety of capacities;
    • Managing and/or administering budgets and personnel;
    • Establishing and maintain effective communication with all constituency groups; and
    • Promoting parent and community partnerships and their involvement in school activities.

How to Apply:

Applicants should send these materials, letter of intent, resume, and list of three references to Dr. Kathleen Airhart, Deputy Commissioner / Chief Operating Officer at Kathleen.Airhart@tn.gov.

Application Due Date:

March 10, 2017


The selected applicant must be able to pass a series of background checks.