District leaders, board appreciate Supt. Stephens

Editor's note: See the details of the superintendent's honor in the statewide story published by Chalkbeat.org and which we reprinted with permission.

Bartlett City Schools Superintendent David Stephens (center) receives Tennessee's Superintendent of the Year award from Gov. Bill Haslam and Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. ( Photo by Jay Hawley/Hawley Media )

Bartlett City Schools Superintendent David Stephens (center) receives Tennessee's Superintendent of the Year award from Gov. Bill Haslam and Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. ( Photo by Jay Hawley/Hawley Media )

Bartlett City Schools district is over the moon with happiness that its superintendent was selected as the tops in the state this year.

The honoree, David Stephens, said on Friday, “I am honored to represent Bartlett City School as the state’s superintendent of the year. The group of superintendents who were nominated for this award are great leaders, and I was surprised and humbled to be selected. I give the credit to our teachers, administrators, and school board for the phenomenal job they do every day for the students of Bartlett. This is an honor I share with the BCS family!”

School board members and district personnel who work with him were quick to say how much he deserves the recognition.

Ken Demetriou, director of operations, got to the heart of what makes Stephens tick with one succinct observation. “Dr. Stephens truly cares about the students and the employees in Bartlett City Schools.”

School board member David Cook pointed out, “It speaks volumes that Dr. Stephens was nominated by his peers for this award! It is well deserved. He’s earned it. We’re lucky to have him as our Superintendent.”

Dr. Lee-Ann Kight, the district’s teaching and learning director, said, “Dr. Stephens has a true talent for balancing the extreme demands of the superintendency. Creating a district from scratch added to the challenges, but he handles each with grace. He brings an attitude of excellence each day and challenges each of us to do the same.”

Joey Mitchell, district technology coordinator, also had high praise.

“Dr. Stephens has been a remarkable leader for this system and this city. When you think about how successfully BCS has been and understand that it was started from scratch just three years ago, it’s incredible. We have always known that he is the best around and now the whole state is aware of that too.”

He continued, “For me personally as the technology coordinator, there is not another superintendent around that gets how significant technology’s impact is on our student learning. He has provided an innovative learning environment that will impact Bartlett for many years to come and allow our students to have job opportunities they may not have been prepared for until now.”

Teresa Winter, the district’s chief financial officer, also expressed admiration for Stephens’ ability to make difficult decisions on the district’s finances.

"Dr. Stephens knew from our feasibility study that our first years of operation could be tight financially,” she said. “Because several of Bartlett’s schools were near the Shelby County Schools border, many of the students that attended those schools were not Bartlett residents. Since our state and county funds are based on student counts, he and I both knew that we had to budget conservatively until we knew exactly how many students we would be able to retain. Dr. Stephens made some difficult decisions with regard to staffing, facilities and salaries to be sure that Bartlett City Schools became fiscally sound. I am proud to say that today, Bartlett City Schools is standing on solid ground financially. This is just one of the reasons I’m proud to say I work for the 2017 Superintendent of the Year!”

Like other district personnel who offered comments, James Aldinger, who serves as director of Human Resources, Federal Projects, and Accountability, was also pleased to speak highly of Stephens.

“We at Bartlett City Schools are most proud of Superintendent Dr. David Stephens being selected as TOSS Superintendent of the year. Dr. Stephens has been the driving force that has helped to make Bartlett City Schools such a success since our opening for the 2014-2015 school year. Having worked with Dr. Stephens in Shelby County Schools and now in Bartlett City Schools, I can truly say he is hard-working, caring, inspirational, visionary, and one of the smartest leaders I have had the opportunity to work with in my career in education.”

In addition to his intellect, training and work ethics, he also has inspired the people he supervises with how he interacts with them and the citizens of Bartlett. Dr. Korrie White, director of student services, said, “I would like to say how proud I am for others around the state to recognize Dr. Stephens for a job well done. Others are reading about and finally understand what we experience on a daily basis. I have had the pleasure of working with David in various roles. He is the most humble, caring, genuine person you will ever meet. He cares about people and values relationships. He never gets wrapped up in titles and understands the importance of making sure you feel and understand your value as an employee. Dr. Stephens is never too busy for anyone. He leads by example. There is no job to big or small that Dr. Stephens is not willing to do. He is a family man and makes sure as employees that we keep our families first. In everything that he does he always wants to know how is it going to impact children. Bartlett, Tennessee, is truly blessed to have David Stephens as the superintendent. I could have been anywhere but because of the type of leader Dr. Stephens is, I chose to work with him to make Bartlett City Schools the best!”

School board member Shirley Jackson said, “As a board, we knew we had made a great hire in Dr. Stephens. He has met and exceeded our expectations in leading our new school district. We look forward to the future and many exciting improvements to our system. I could not be happier to call him ‘our superintendent.’”

Fellow school board member Erin Berry had similar positive remarks. “As a parent of school-age children and a board member I could not be more excited for Dr. Stephens in his recent selection as Tennessee Superintendent of the Year. Bartlett City Schools is blessed to have Stephens at the helm of the district. We as a board have a mission and vision for BCS, Stephens has more than proved himself that he is the leader Bartlett needs to see those visions through and has already done a wonderful job. I personally cannot wait to see where he continues to take BCS. Stephens, his administration, along with our wonderful teachers have done a superb job of getting this district up and running in a short amount of time. If you look at what BCS has accomplished since its creation in 2014, we are proving that we are one of the top districts, from being named an Exemplary district, Bon Lin named a Reward school, several sports and fine arts groups competing for state, implemented a 1:1 initiative, just to name a few.  With Dr. Stephens’ continued leadership, Bartlett will continue to grow and prove even more that BCS is the place you want to be.  Congratulations Dr. Stephens, I could not think of a more deserving person than you to receive this honor."

By Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to bartlett.editor@journalinc.com.