Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 28, 2020

New principals have been appointed for 3 Hamilton County Schools

Hamilton County School has named three new principals for the 2020-21 school year.

Dr. Ethan Hildreth, a former superintendent of Henry County Schools in Georgia, will lead the new East Hamilton Middle School when it opens this fall.

LaFrederick Thirkill will be the new principal at Washington Alternative School.

Vonetta Maston, current principal of Hillcrest Elementary, will replace Thirkill at Orchard Knob Elementary. Hillcrest will close with the opening of the new elementary school in the Harrison community in the fall.

East Hamilton Middle School

Hildreth retired as superintendent in Henry County, Georgia in 2014. He then served as a leadership consultant for the Griffin Regional Service Agency, which works with school districts in Griffin, Georgia, until 2016. For the last three years, he has worked with Nord Anglia Education.

Hildreth worked for Henry County Schools for 23 years, also serving as an assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal and teacher. He was assistant principal and teacher at Eagle’s Landing High School and an assistant principal at Pate’s Creek Elementary School.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the proud Hurricane tradition of East Hamilton in what will be one of the top school facilities in the area for middle school students,” says Hildreth. “The East Hamilton Middle faculty, students and community will forge a great team that will prepare children for success in high school and beyond.”

Hildreth earned his bachelor’s degree from the United States Air Force Academy, his master’s degree from the University of Tennessee and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Georgia State University.

East Hamilton Middle School will be a 175,000 square foot facility in the Missionary Ridge Learning Community. The new school is a major project in the $125 million building plan the Hamilton County Board of Education approved in Oct. 2017.

The Hamilton County Commission approved funding of East Hamilton Middle and other district building projects to address school facility needs. The new school will hold 1,200 students, allowing the building to accommodate current students and the growth expected in the East Hamilton community.

The new school will feature all-new learning technology, group learning areas and STEM labs and will have fields for football, soccer, softball and baseball.

East Hamilton Middle will be the new home to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in the East Hamilton area when the school opens in August.

Moving the middle school grades from the current East Hamilton Middle/High facility will allow for more growth opportunities at what will become East Hamilton High School, says a news release from Hamilton County Schools.

Washington Alternative School

Thirkill has served as principal of Orchard Knob Elementary for the past nine years. He began his career in Hamilton County in 1998 as a teacher and has also been an assistant principal.

The Hamilton County PTA recognized Thirkill as Elementary Principal of the Year in 2013. The same year, the Hamilton County Education Association recognized him as its Distinguished Administrator. In 2014, Thirkill received the East Tennessee Distinguished Administrator Award from the Tennessee Education Association.

Thirkill began his career as an elementary music teacher and spent nine years in the classroom. He organized and served as first chair of the Elementary Music Teachers Group and became the first teacher to earn National Board Certification in Hamilton County Schools.

In 2007, Thirkill was named an assistant principal trainee at Apison Elementary, a positions he held for three years.

Thirkill also served in several roles with the Hamilton County Education Association and has received honors for his work as an activist, historian and educator.

Thirkill is passionate about education. “Every child deserves access to the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for college and the workforce,” he says. “I am eager to begin the work to provide an alternative path to education success for students who struggle in the traditional classroom setting.”

Thirkill earned his bachelor’s in music education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and both his master’s and his Education Specialist in Instructional Leadership and Supervision degrees from Tennessee Technological University.

Orchard Knob Elementary

Maston was named the principal at Hillcrest Elementary in 2015 after serving as assistant principal of the school for five years.

Maston was instrumental in providing opportunities for students in reading, math and technology outside regular school hours while an administrator at Hillcrest.

She also instituted the RESET program, which provides behavior supports for Hillcrest students.

Hillcrest’s parents recognized Maston as an outstanding principal in 2016.

Maston is a native of Chattanooga and a graduate of Brainerd High School. She has over 23 years of education experience, beginning with her career as a math teacher at Orchard Knob Middle School in 1997.

Fresh out of college, Maston connected with the students by coaching basketball, volleyball and track.

Maston joined Hardy Elementary, where she taught fourth grade math, in 2001. While at Hardy, the Community Education Alliance recognized her as an incentive recipient and a high performing teacher in a high priority school.

“I plan to use my strengths as an instructional and servant leader and my experience and abilities to motivate students academically at Orchard Knob,” says Maston. “I also intend to place a priority on establishing a strong connection with parents, staff and the Orchard Knob community as we work together as a school team.”

Maston holds a bachelor’s in elementary education from Knoxville College. She earned her master’s in educational leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.

Source: Hamilton County Schools