Three finalists interview for the Sullivan County Director of Schools position


The region’s largest school system is looking for a new leader to replace Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski, who soon will retire. The board is looking someone who can step in as school and county leaders work through a controversial consolidation and construction plan.

“We are looking for people who have kind of fought the same battles and been in the same position in budgeting and building schools and those types of things,” said Michael Hughes, Sullivan County School Board Chairman.

The three candidates are Dr. Corey Gardenhour from Elizabethton City Schools, Patrick Fraley of Greeneville City Schools and Dr. David Cox from Allegany County Public Schools in Cumberland, Md.

All three candidates have local ties.

Dr. Corey Gardenhour has been a director of schools for the past four years. He recieved his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Milligan College. In his interview, he addressed his dedication to education and his ability to take on major projects in Sullivan County.

“It is of the utmost importance that we work as a team to provide what we need to do for our students,” Gardenhour said. “They are depending on us to make good decisions.”

Fraley has been a principal at Greeneville High School since 2012. He also previously worked as a teacher and football coach in Sullivan County.

“The most important thing about being in education is having the most impact that you can on the most students that you can, so you know in the local education arena there is no place that you have more impact than as a director of schools,” Patrick Fraley said.

Dr. David Cox is from Hawkins County and got degrees from East Tennessee State University.

“I will work very hard everyday to raise every student up and to be a collaborative leader, ” Cox said.

The board plans to vote Wednesday night on the new director of schools. At that point, a job offer will be made and negotiations will come next. The current salary for Sullivan County’s Director of School is $130,000 a year.

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