Checking qualifications of finalists for Rutherford County's top educator job

Meet John Ash. Get to know Andrea Anthony. Connect with James Sullivan.

One of these in-house administrators will likely lead Rutherford County Schools.

On Tuesday, the district's school board unanimously accepted the recommended superintendent finalists from the Tennessee School Boards Association.

Ash is the principal of Central Magnet School. Anthony serves as the assistant superintendent of human resources and support services at the school district. Sullivan is the school district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

The Rutherford County Director of Schools Bill Spurlock did not attend the School Board meeting on Monday, March 28, 2022, where his contract  was addressed
The Rutherford County Director of Schools Bill Spurlock did not attend the School Board meeting on Monday, March 28, 2022, where his contract was addressed

Only one, though, will replace outgoing schools director Bill Spurlock. Here's a glimpse at information school leaders will consider in the coming days.

Previously: Meet the 7 candidates to apply for next superintendent of Rutherford County Schools

More: Rutherford County Commission will lose at least 8 officials, gain new members

Who is Andrea Anthony?

Anthony has served as a principal and administrator at the central office, with 29 years of experience.

"As a lifelong resident and a product of Rutherford County Schools K-12, it is with great passion that I can express interest in this position," Anthony wrote in a letter to the school board.

She previously served as a coordinator for secondary education for Rutherford County Schools from 2015 until accepting her current position in 2017; she oversees human resources.

Prior to her administration job in Rutherford County, Anthony worked as an executive principal for Williamson County Schools (2003-2015). This job included oversight of Page High, which she said transformed from "a state target school (below standards) to a National Blue Ribbon School winner in 2011."

Anthony also worked as an assistant principal at Rutherford County's Riverdale High (1997-2003). She also taught math at Riverdale (1993-97).

In 1993, Anthony earned her bachelor's degree in math at Middle Tennessee State University. She added two graduate degrees from MTSU in 1994: master's degree in math and a specialist in education degree in administration.

Anthony completed her doctorate in education in 1996 from Tennessee State University in Nashville. She then earned a Nashville School of Law degree in 2003.

"As a lifelong learner, my quest for school level and district level leadership knowledge and training is never-ending," Anthony said in her letter to the school board. "I welcome the opportunity to expand on my plethora of skills and training."

Who is John Ash?

Ash is the founding principal at two schools in Rutherford County, including Central Magnet School, which has become the home of the county's highest academic achievers.

"Central has quickly become nationally recognized as one of the highest ranked schools in America," Ash wrote in his letter to the school board.

Ash, who has 30 years of education experience, was the runner-up for the public school system's top job in 2018 — the school board chose Spurlock.

Ash also was the founding principal at the district's Christiana Middle (2003-09). He previously served as the assistant principal at La Verne High (1999-2003).

Prior to becoming an administrator, Ash taught chemistry, physical science and ecology at La Vergne High (1997-99). He also served as an assistant coach for varsity football and basketball.

"I have spent the majority of my adult life in the Rutherford County School System," Ash said in his letter to the school board. "Rutherford County has given much to me and I feel that I have much to offer it as the Director of Schools."

Ash also taught chemistry and physics at Brentwood High (1990-97). At the high school,, he was also the varsity football coach and assistant coach for varsity girls basketball. At Brentwood Middle, he served coached the boys track team.

Prior to his career in Brentwood, Ash taught chemistry lab in at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville (1989-90).

Ash started his career in 1988-89 as a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Smith County High. He also served as a senior high head baseball coach and assistant basketball coach, and as a junior high head coach of football and basketball.

Ash earned a bachelor's degree from Tennessee Tech in 1988. He added a master's degree in education in 1993 from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. Ash completed an education specialist's degree in educational leadership in 2001 from MTSU before attaining a doctorate in educational leadership in 2005 from TSU.

Who is James Sullivan?

Prior to becoming assistant superintendent in 2019, Sullivan served as the founding principal at Rocky Fork Middle in Smyrna from (2017-19).

Sullivan also spent time as a TNReady ambassador for the Tennessee Department of Education (2018-19). The job included serving as an advisor to the commissioner of education on the state improving performance of students on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests.

"Rutherford County has a strong tradition of improving academic outcomes for educators, students, and communities," Sullivan said in his letter to the school board. "However, I believe continual improvement is essential to meet the needs of our community members, educators, parents, and most importantly, our diverse student body."

More: Rutherford County awarded federal funds for food and shelter program; deadline May 11

Related: Two Rutherford County school officials confirm they're competing for top job

Sullivan's career included being a principal at Harris Middle School in Bedford County, (2012-17). Before being promoted, he was the assistant principal at Harris for a year.

Prior to becoming an administrator, Sullivan taught sixth-grade math and science at Blackman Middle (2006-11). He also served as the varsity boys basketball coach (2007-11).

Sullivan earned a bachelor's degree in child development and learning in 2006 from TSU. He added a master's degree in educational administration in 2008 from MTSU before completing a doctorate in learning organizations and strategic change in 2014 from Lipscomb University in Nashville.

"I am intrigued by the proposition of utilizing my educational background in administration and strategic planning along with my strong work ethic to build upon the proud history and traditions of excellence in Rutherford County," Sullivan wrote in his letter to the school board.

Reach reporter Scott Broden with news tips and questions through emailing him at Follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden.

Timeline to hire next schools director

  • May 10: Board considers finalists to interview

  • May 16-20: Interview finalists

  • May 23-27: Discuss finalists one at a time

  • May 28: Majority of school board members agree to offer contract to applicant

  • July 1: New schools director assumes position

Note: School board may appoint an interim director if unable to decide on applicant

Source: Rutherford County Board of Education

This article originally appeared on Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Rutherford County's top educator job: A look at the three finalists