Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson had a great night Thursday.

Hixson, who came to Hawkins County in 2019 from a California school system, was rewarded for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic with a new four-year contract to continue his position.

The new contract, which the board approved by a 4-1 vote, will begin July 1, 2022 and will end June 30, 2026.

The lone no vote was cast by Tecky Hicks.

“We’ve given you a minute to think about it,” Chairman Chris Christian said.

“I don’t need more time to think about it,” Hixson said. “I fell in love with Hawkins County, the staff welcomed me, and I can say the same for the Board. I don’t need to thank about it anymore. I wholeheartedly accept.”

Hixson’s decision was met with applause.

“I’ve served on this board, this is my ninth year,” Christian said. “I’ve learned a tremendous lot about public education. Coming in as a lay person, an average Joe off the street, there is a learning curve. I was thinking earlier about what your learning curve was. Your learning curve was zero pertaining to Hawkins County. Zero. You came from a long ways off. I welcome you with this new contract and I wish you the best of luck in this position. I’m sure that your best interests lie in the students of Hawkins County.”

County Commissioner Keith Gibson echoed Christian’s sentiments.

“I want to commend the board for the approval of the contract,” Gibson said. “I think Matt does an outstanding job for the students of Hawkins County. I’m tickled to hear that he is staying.”

Hixson will also receive a one-time bonus to be paid in the May 15 payroll.