For the first time in Claiborne County’s history, its director of schools is not a county native.
Dr. Joe Miller was officially sworn in as director of schools Monday in a ceremony held at Cumberland Gap High School.
The Morgan County native has 17 years of education experience; he taught for nine years in Brevard County, Florida and returned to Morgan County in 2009 to continue teaching in his hometown.
He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida.
Miller spent the last five years as the director and principal of the Morgan County Career and Technical Education Center, gaining experience he said he wants to transfer into his new position.
“CTE is definitely important,” he said. “Many of our kids might elect not to go on to college, but they might elect to receive a year or two of training either at one of our technical schools or through one of our community colleges through Tennessee Promise.
“Our CTE programs in Claiborne are relatively strong,” Miller continued. “One of the things we need to put a focus on is trying to work on more student industry certification and get that credential piece more readily available to our student body.”
Claiborne County Board of Education Chair Neta Munsey said after a long search process, she is confident the board has made the right decision in hiring Miller.
“I think he will bring his knowledge and expertise to the school board and we look forward to working with him,” Munsey said. “He’s a very personable person.”
She said while the search process was lengthy, she is sure the board’s thoroughness paid off.
“We wanted to make sure we could find out everything we could and do the very best for the students, the school personnel, teachers and the whole county,” she said.
Miller applauded the board for its work with the search process, which began with roughly 18 candidates.
“I really believe the board exercised all options in going in depth with its interview process,” he said. “I’m just eternally grateful to be here.”
He said one of his first priorities when officially entering the position on July 1 is to meet as many new faces as possible.
“One of my priorities is to go in and establish relationships,” he said. “I’m really excited to be here. I think Claiborne County is a great place and everyone that I’ve met so far have been warm and welcoming.”
Miller replaced Connie Holdway, who leaves the school system after seven years as its director.
The Honorable John McAfee resided the swearing in ceremony held in the library of Cumberland Gap High School.