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FCPS names new leaders in schools and at central office as 2021-22 begins

On the eve of a new contract year, Acting Superintendent Marlene Helm announced that all remaining school and district leadership openings have been filled. “Our leadership team continues to get stronger with the addition of several individuals who are new to Fayette County Public Schools,” Helm said. “We also have rising stars in our district moving to new positions as part of their leadership journeys.”

Announced June 30:

  • Jamie Burch as program director of the Virtual Learning Academy
  • Chris Flores as acting program director of the STEAM Academy
  • Tammie Franks as a school leadership specialist
  • Alison Hubbard as acting principal of Picadome Elementary
  • Jennifer Hutchison as acting elementary schools chief
  • Faneshia Jones as elementary director of Teaching & Learning
  • Tiffany Marshall as elementary schools chief
  • Melissa McDaniel as acting principal of Harrison Elementary
  • Latonya Meekins as acting principal on special assignment in the Middle Schools Office
  • Prenell Mitchell as director of Maintenance
  • Ben VanderHorst as principal of Glendover Elementary
  • Catherine Vannatter as principal of Locust Trace AgriScience Center

“Each of these individuals brings individual skills and talents to Team FCPS, but they all share a passion for serving all students at high levels and understand the importance of helping our district emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever,” Helm said.


Jamie Burch

Virtual Learning Academy Program Director Jamie Burch

Burch has 22 years of experience in education, most recently serving as administrative dean and acting program director for the Virtual Learning Academy. Previous roles include service as the principal of Sts. Peter and Paul Regional Catholic School, administrative dean and professional growth and effectiveness coach at Southern Elementary, district technology resource teacher, and classroom teacher at Cardinal Valley and Garden Springs elementary schools. Burch holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree in education and K-12 technology endorsement from Georgetown College, and a master’s degree in instructional leadership and principal certification from the University of the Cumberlands.

“Ms. Burch has worked tirelessly for the past year to ensure that the Virtual Learning Academy not only had a strong beginning, but also an impressive and successful year,” said Elementary Schools Chief Lisa Smith. “She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position and is committed to working with each and every student to ensure that their VLA experience not only meets, but exceeds, their expectations so they can achieve their educational goals.”


Chris Flores 

Acting Program Director of STEAM Academy Chris Flores

Flores has 15 years of experience in education, having served most recently as administrative dean at STEAM Academy since 2013. Prior to entering administration, he taught Spanish at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary Spanish education from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree in education from Georgetown College, a master’s degree in educational administration from Eastern Kentucky University, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and organizational development from the University of Louisville.

“Dr. Flores has been with STEAM Academy since its inception,” said High Schools Chief James McMillin. “I cannot think of a better leader to continue pushing the mission and vision forward after Ms. (Tina) Stevenson announced her retirement.”


Tammie Franks 

School Leadership Specialist Tammie Franks

Franks has 27 years of experience in education, having served most recently as principal at Harrison Elementary School since 2006. Her career also includes time spent as a professional staff assistant and literacy coach at Julia R. Ewan Elementary, and classroom teaching experience at Julia R. Ewan, Arlington, and Booker T. Washington elementaries. Franks holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Morehead State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership and superintendent’s certification from the University of Kentucky, where she is also working on her doctoral degree in educational leadership.

“Mrs. Franks’ passion has always been literacy,” said Acting Senior Director of School Leadership Schuronda Morton. “This is a great opportunity to capitalize on her gifts and talents and not only impact the children at Harrison but also students and teachers throughout the district.”


Alison Hubbard 

Acting Principal of Picadome Elementary Alison Hubbard

Hubbard has 20 years of experience in education, having served most recently as professional growth and effectiveness coach at Squires Elementary since 2017. Before joining FCPS, she worked for 17 years in Montgomery County Schools, serving as district assessment coordinator, district curriculum specialist, assistant principal at Mapleton Elementary, and vice principal at McNabb Middle School, where she started her career as a math and science teacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in middle school math and science education from Eastern Kentucky University, and her Rank I in instructional leadership and principal certification from Morehead State University.

“Ms. Hubbard will be a great administrator for Picadome. She believes that all students can achieve at high levels and she keeps students at the center of decision making,” said Elementary Schools Chief Lisa Smith. “She is a collaborative leader with a skill set that will complement the strong structures that are currently in place. Picadome staff, students, and families will appreciate her creative ideas, enthusiasm, and excellent communication skills.”


Jennifer Hutchison 

Acting Elementary Schools Chief Jennifer Hutchison

Hutchison has 22 years of experience in education, having served most recently as principal of Picadome Elementary since 2011. Prior roles include curriculum coach at Picadome, professional staff assistant at Harrison Elementary, and special education teacher at Harrison. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and elementary education from the University of Kentucky, where she also completed a fifth-year program of study in learning and behavior disorders, a master’s degree in educational leadership studies, a Rank I and principal certification. She is pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership and organizational development at the University of Louisville.

“Ms. Hutchison is a proven educational leader who understands the value of collaboration, data-driven decision making, and a relentless pursuit of excellence for students. In her new role, she will be able to utilize her expertise to help other school leaders improve their systems resulting in positive outcomes for FCPS students,” said Acting Senior Director of School Leadership Schuronda Morton.


Faneshia Jones 

Elementary Director of Teaching & Learning Faneshia Jones

Jones has 20 years of experience in education, having served most recently as an educational recovery leader with the Kentucky Department of Education. Prior roles include service as a program coordinator at the Kentucky School for the Deaf, a math teacher in Jessamine County Public Schools and Danville Independent Public Schools, an educational recovery specialist with the state, and assistant principal of Audubon Traditional Elementary School in Jefferson County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Louisville, and master’s degrees in teaching and educational leadership from Eastern Kentucky University – where she also earned her Rank I and certification as a school principal, instructional leadership supervisor, and school superintendent – and her doctoral degree in educational leadership and organizational development at the University of Louisville.

“Dr. Jones has the proven leadership to move Fayette County Public Schools forward in early literacy development,” said Chief Academic Officer Kate McAnelly, emphasizing Jones’ track record of successfully implementing systemic change in some of Kentucky’s lowest performing schools. “She will bring her expertise to FCPS to work closely with the elementary school principals and teachers in pursuing our goal to ensure that every child by third grade is reading on grade level. I am honored and look forward to working side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder with this exemplary literacy leader!”


Tiffany Marshall 

Elementary Schools Chief Tiffany Marshall

Marshall has 21 years of experience in education, having served most recently as the principal of Jefferson County Traditional Middle School since 2000. Her career working with students in grades kindergarten through eight also includes service as principal of Audubon Traditional Elementary, assistant principal of Klondike Lane Elementary, principal intern at Sanders and Roosevelt-Perry Elementary, school counselor at Shacklette Elementary and Highland Middle, and teacher at Shelby Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Western Kentucky University, a master’s degree in school counseling from the University of Louisville, a Rank I in education administration from Western Kentucky University, and a doctoral degree in education and social change from Bellarmine University.

“Dr. Marshall is a consummate professional who works tirelessly to promote success for all through collaboration, mentoring, coaching, and professional learning,” said Acting Senior Director of School Leadership Schuronda Morton. “Her intentional focus on educational issues and overall leadership development has contributed to her success. She will be a welcome addition to the FCPS leadership team.”


Melissa McDaniel 

Acting Principal of Harrison Elementary Melissa McDaniel

McDaniel has 16 years of experience in education, having served most recently as the professional growth and effectiveness coach at Deep Springs Elementary since 2016. Prior to moving into administration, she taught at Clays Mill and Mary Todd elementaries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree in reading and writing with a literacy specialist endorsement from Georgetown College, an educational specialist’s degree in instructional leadership from University of the Cumberlands, and a doctoral degree in organizational leadership from the University of the Cumberlands.

“Dr. McDaniel is a strong instructional leader with a vision for raising student achievement. She understands the importance of effective systems and processes, the need to use data to make instructional decisions, and the value of creating strong school teams,” said Elementary Schools Chief Lisa Smith. “Harrison staff, students, and families will find Melissa to be approachable and willing to work collaboratively for the benefit of all stakeholders.”


Latonya Meekins 

Acting Principal on Special Assignment Latonya Meekins

Meekins has 25 years of experience in education, having served most recently as the assistant principal of Leestown Middle School since 2012. Her career also includes service as a highly skilled educator with the Kentucky Department of Education, curriculum and instruction coach at Edythe J. Hayes Middle School, and math teacher at Crawford Middle. She holds a bachelor’s degree in middle school education, a master’s degree in instructional systems design, principal certification, and instructional leadership supervisor certification, all from the University of Kentucky.

“Ms. Meekins is the epitome of leadership and is widely respected for her passion for students and their success,” said Chief of Middle Schools Tracy Bruno. “The vision for the Middle School Office is to expose students to various career experiences and strengthen the career pathways between middle school and high school. Ms. Meekins has been instrumental in the success of the pre-academies at Leestown, and we are excited to see the work she will do with middle schools across the district.”


Prenell Mitchell 

Director of Maintenance Prenell Mitchell

Mitchell has 25 years of experience in private industry, having worked as a body weld engineering specialist and facilities control engineering specialist with Toyota Motor Manufacturing at the Georgetown and Erlanger plants. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Construction Technology from Eastern Kentucky University.

“Mr. Mitchell’s vast experience from Toyota will serve the maintenance department and district very well and advance our emphasis on quality and customer service,” said Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson. “He is an alum of both Lafayette High School and Southside Technical Center, and we are excited to have him join our team.”


Ben VanderHorst 

Glendover Elementary School Principal Ben VanderHorst

VanderHorst has 11 years of experience in education, having served most recently as the professional growth and effectiveness coach at Garden Springs Elementary since 2016. Before entering administration, he taught for six years at Arlington Elementary School. VanderHorst also brings management experience from the private sector, having worked as a pool manager and regional manager with Professional Pool Management of Kentucky since 2008. He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Kentucky.

“Mr. VanderHorst is a servant leader who keeps students at the center of all things,” said Elementary Schools Chief Lisa Smith. “He brings to this job great enthusiasm, prior leadership experience, and an eagerness to meet the faculty, staff, students, and families. He will be an excellent addition to the Glendover school community.”


Catherine Vannatter 

Principal of Locust Trace AgriScience Center Catherine Vannatter

Vannatter has 15 years of experience in education, having served most recently as the administrative dean at Locust Trace since 2000. Her prior roles include curriculum and instructional coach at Bryan Station High School, and 10 years of classroom experience teaching English at Bryan Station High School, Frankfort High School, and Morehead State University. She also taught English and anthropology at Bluegrass Community & Technical College, and has seven years of work experience in the private sector as a technician with Cultural Resource Analysts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Transylvania University, a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, secondary English from Eastern Kentucky University, and is pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership at University of Kentucky.

“Ms. Vannatter brings passion and a skill set that will be essential to continuing the amazing progress being made at Locust Trace,” said Acting Director of School Improvement Carl Hayden. “Her work there this past year has shown her drive to reach all students and families, support the staff in their role, and to work closely with community partners, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for Locust Trace under her leadership.”


Source: Lisa Deffendall, district spokeswoman; (859) 381-4101 or 699-1441 

(Revised July 1; posted June 30, 2021)