Five questions for Rhonda Stringham, new assistant superintendent

Cassidy Greggh, Staff Writer

Q. What is your job of Assistant Superintendent for Instruction? What do you actually do?

A. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction is the team leader for projects such as the new science standards, textbook selection, Tennessee Pathways, Early Post-Secondary Opportunities career technical certificates, dual enrollment, and AP courses, professional learning for teachers, and the dreaded assessments. That means I attend a lot of meetings to learn what state leaders and politicians expect our schools to deliver versus what parents and students expect our schools to provide. Then I attend more meetings where we plan on how to offer quality courses and subjects to students and also how to help teachers teach students in new ways.

Q. How did it feel when you were chosen for this position?

A. I was very excited, but a little anxious to be chosen to be the new Assistant Superintendent here in Kingsport City Schools. I was excited because I love planning new programs and opportunities for students that will help them fulfill their dreams of a wonderful life with a family and great job. I especially enjoy all of the technology our students have available to them here in Kingsport. I was anxious because I’ve lived most of my life in South Alabama near the beach and I didn’t know what it would be like here in East Tennessee. I shouldn’t have been anxious because everyone has been so nice to me and my husband since we moved here this summer. Bays Mountain is beautiful and FunFest was, well, fun. I’ve been a Pat Benatar fan since the late 1970’s and it was so fun to see her perform again in person. I do miss the beach sometimes, and my mom still lives down there, but I’m going to go visit her at Christmas. I’m sure she and I will go to the beach while I’m there.

Q. What kind of student were you when you were in middle school?

A. Well, I loved music and would listen to it in my room for hours. I also enjoyed reading. I read probably two novels a week in addition to assigned readings from the teacher. I read every story and poem in my 6th grade literature book on my own–even the ones my teacher told us we didn’t have to read. I really liked Greek mythology in middle school. Learning about Greek mythology really helped me to enjoy movies like the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series later in my life. I earned mostly A’s and some B’s in middle school, but I didn’t let it stress me out. I loved Algebra the most; that’s why I became a math teacher.

Q. You have been in education for over 30 years. Why did you decide to join Kingsport City Schools?

A. Yes, I’ve been in education a long time, but when I knew it was time to retire from working in Alabama, I knew I wasn’t ready to just go sit on a beach the rest of my life. :0 My husband and I came to visit East Tennessee in early March and we liked everyone we met and everything we saw. We could see ourselves moving up here, so when the job opened up, we prayed about it and felt good about it, so I applied. I followed Kingsport City Schools on Twitter and started reading online about all of the great things going on in the schools and I knew I wanted to be a part of the Tribe!! I feel so blessed to be a part of KCS.

Q. You spent a lot of your career in Alabama. How is Alabama different from Tennessee?

A. I thought I would say that the temperatures are cooler in Tennessee, but so far that hasn’t been true!! It was really hot up here this summer–just like Alabama. My hair doesn’t frizz as much, so maybe there isn’t as much humidity. I’ve noticed that kids are more into technology here than they seemed to be where I was. Y’all are into coding, and STEM and “Project Lead the Way”. Students are very polite and helpful here. I got lost at Dobyns-Bennett last week and a sweet freshman girl helped me get back to the office. I guess since it is football season, I have to mention that a lot of people here wear orange and support the UT Vols. I haven’t been wearing all of my crimson and hounds-tooth clothing since I arrived–I like it here and don’t want people to run me out of town for being an Alabama Crimson Tide fan.