Garren leaves Monroe County school system, heads for Loudon


Published: 9:27 AM, 06/13/2011

Last updated: 9:28 AM, 06/13/2011

Author: Jessica Cross
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

The Monroe County Board of Education will lose a very valuable member of their staff at the end of the month when he steps into a new role within the Loudon County school system.

In an interview with The Advocate & Democrat last fall, Michael "Mike" Garren said with a laugh, "I seem to have a thing with four's. I'm almost afraid something big is coming."

(Note* Read on for more information about the history of fours.)

And, he was right.

Garren has accepted a job position as the assistant director of schools for Loudon County. Garren is currently the Supervisor of Instruction for grades 9-12 and the Title II Director for Monroe County Board of Education.

"Mike is an outstanding young man," said Monroe County Director of Schools Mike Lowry. "I have great appreciation and admiration for him. He has made great contributions to our system."

Garren first learned about the job after Jason Vance was named the new London County director of schools, leaving the assistant director position vacant. When the job listing was posted, Garren took a chance and applied. He interviewed with them the last week of May and was notified he had the job a few days later.

"I saw it as an opportunity to advance professionally," said Garren. "The biggest deciding factor was that it was a professional advancement and an opportunity to be an assistant director of schools doesn't present itself often. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm of Director Vance."

Garren's main job duties in Loudon County will be similar to his duties here in Monroe County. Garren will oversee instruction at the high schools, testing and First to the Top progress.

"Mr. Garren brings a variety of experiences to the Loudon County Schools team. His knowledge of federal programs, First to the Top, new state initiatives, budgets and curriculum will make him an immediate asset to all of our programs," said Vance. "Under the leadership of Mike Lowry, Director of Monroe County Schools, he has also initiated school reform, making changes that resulted in schools moving from targeted to good standing in terms of AYP. I am proud to have him as a part of our team as we work to move from good to great."

Garren said the assistant director position does encompass more responsibilities beyond those he currently has, but he looks forward to the challenges ahead.

"I'm excited to be able to serve in a role that will afford me opportunities to make the educational experience of kids a better one. I look forward to serving under Jason Vance and the opportunity that he has given me to be his assistant director of schools," said Garren.

Garren has been with the Monroe County school system for 13 years. He began as a teacher at Tellico Plains Junior High School (TPJHS) under the guidance of current school board member Ron Eydt and then principal of the school.

"I brought him in and have watched him grow in our system," said Eydt. "It's definitely our loss to see him leave and Loudon County has a great gain."

Garren taught at TPJHS for four years. He then became assistant principal at Vonore Elementary School. After holding the assistant principal position for four years, Garren became the Federal Program Commissioner at Monroe County's Central Office. This was his fourth year at Central Office, but was his first year as Supervisor of Instruction.

Garren said the thing he has enjoyed most in his tenure with the Monroe County school system is the people he has worked with.

"We have a lot of great professionals in Monroe County and they really care about kids. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve under Mike Lowry. He has been very good to me, and I consider him a great friend," said Garren. "I will miss working in Monroe County. I have a lot of time invested in this school system and I have built a lot of great friendships throughout the years. I consider my colleagues as part of my family."

Lowry began the interview process for the job of secondary supervisor of instruction on Friday and hopes to fill the position within the month, with the new person assuming duties on July 1.

"We have some current and former principals and vice principals that have also applied for this position," said Lowry.

Several of Garren's job duties have been divided up within Central Office.

"Anytime we've had someone change jobs, we try to absorb and consolidate jobs," said Lowry. "I feel very confident in the people that are stepping up to the plate."

Lowry said he wishes "Little Mike" the best of luck.

"He'll have success at whatever he does. We'll miss him," said Lowry. "But, you can't stop progress and I can't hold it against him for talking this nice title. He deserves it."

Garren said he is excited to begin this new adventure.

"I'm in the business of helping kids because they are not only our tomorrow, but our today. I hope to build upon the experiences I have had in Monroe County to make me better as my profession so that I can make more positive contributions to the Loudon County school system," said Garren.

Garren's last day on the job in Monroe County is June 30. He will begin his first day in Loudon County on July 1. | 337-7101