An interview with Bartlett’s Zoe Bozeman
by Aarron Fleming
The Bartlett Express
For the second time since 2019, a Bartlett City Schools staff member is in the running for supervisor of the year by the state of Tennessee.
Zoe Bozeman, counseling supervisor for Bartlett City Schools, beat 13 other contestants and is now in the final eight for the award.
“I work with a lot of very talented, hard workers, and to be nominated was a very humbling experience,” she said.
She is the second staff member to be up for the award in the last three years.
Dr. Korrie White, student services director for BCS, was nominated for supervisor of the year in 2019.
Bozeman said that make it to the final eight, she’s had to face stiff competition. At first, she was one of 21 nominees from across the state. After that, it was narrowed to herself and seven others. As part of the next leg of the competition, Bozeman will face a panel of judges where she will be asked questions about leadership, professional growth and accomplishments and issues and trends in education.
That panel will select four grand division winners with one contestant walking away with the title of supervisor of the year.
Bozeman’s nomination is the result of over 20 years of work as a school counselor. After receiving a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Central Florida, Bozeman began working as a school counselor in 1998. Sixteen years later, she joined Bartlett City Schools just as it was becoming an independent school district.
She began working for BCS as a counseling specialist, but eventually began to take on more roles until she became counseling and intervention supervisor. “It was a pretty natural transition in those roles,” she said, on account of her past work and education in counseling.
As a counseling supervisor, she is tasked with overseeing many of the behavior initiatives that BCS has introduced for problem students. Bozeman said that her greatest accomplishment as a supervisor was one of those initiatives that she helped start. That initiative was BCS’s alternative school, aka Bartlett Bridges.
Bartlett Bridges takes in BCS students that have been suspended for long periods of time or have other issues that they need additional support for, Bozeman said. While the students are attending the alternative school, they work on behavior management techniques and are provided with counseling services. Before Bozeman came on board, the school was off-site. She was instrumental in moving the school in-house, giving those students the support they need right where they are.
The school was only moved on site in 2015, one year after Bozeman joined BCS, yet just three years later, it was recognized with the Exemplary Practices in Alternative Education award by the state of Tennessee.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education’s website, the Exemplary Practices in Alternative Education Recognition Program was started in 2017 as a way to make sure that students in alternative schools receive the best non-traditional education possible.
The award is given to schools who exhibit the best practices for those alternative services. “Our mission at the alternative school is to make sure students are thriving and not just surviving,” Bozeman said.
While she is proud of the work that she has done, not everything has been easy during her time as a supervisor.
Like many educators and students alike, Bozeman said that the pandemic has likely been the most difficult period for her during her career as a supervisor. “It created a need for a greater focus on mental health,” she said. She not only had to make sure that she made it to the other side, but as a supervisor, that the staff, teachers, and students she works with made it through as well.
To help them overcome the struggles the pandemic brought, she said that she helped staff engage in professional development training and stress management techniques. She arranged conferences with parents and teachers to make sure that they were being taken care of as well.
Mental health will be the focus of her initiatives going forward, she said. Part of that focus will be on expanding mental health personnel in the BCS system. BCS already has a large number of staff that deal with mental health, including 21 counselors, two social workers, and five psychologists.
Bozeman said, however, that expanding mental health initiatives could include introducing new programs as well as hiring new staff.
With a familiar mantra, she credited all of the work that she has done and hopes to do to BCS and her colleagues that have helped her along the way.
“Bartlett City Schools: there’s no place I’d rather be.”