Maxwell to retire in June

Jan. 24—Director of Schools Ina Maxwell announced Friday she will retire June 30.

Her contract extended through June 2023.

"I am grateful for the opportunity that the board has given me the past two years as leader of the school district," Maxwell wrote in a letter to the Cumberland County Board of Education. "The continuous outpouring of encouragement and support that I have received daily has been tremendous. I am appreciative and thankful for everyone that has expressed their confidence in me. We have persevered during a global pandemic and we continue to adapt to the ever-changing world in which we live, while striving for excellence. I have been blessed with many new friendships during this time that I will continue to cherish."

Maxwell was selected as the Cumberland County director of schools in May 2020, officially assuming the position July 1, 2020.

She was among four candidates interviewed for the post and 11 applicants.

Among her first tasks was developing a plan for reopening schools in August 2020 after the cancellation of classes in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maxwell began her teaching career in 1989 at Pleasant Hill Elementary. From 1989-2012, she taught first through seventh grade, with a focus on reading. She moved the Central Services in 2012 working in the Federal Programs office, first as the countywide instructional facilitator for reading. She took on responsibility for the Title III federal programs in 2016 and headed the department from 2019-'20.

She earned her bachelor's degree in education from Tennessee Technological University and returned for a master's degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading.

In 2007, she earned her Doctor of Philosophy in education in exceptional learning, specializing in literacy. Her dissertation included extensive research in the motivation of fourth-grade readers.

In her letter, Maxwell wrote, "During my [33] years as an educator, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing educators, students, families, and community partners. I have learned so much from my colleagues and administrators. As I begin a new chapter in my life, I look forward to seeing all the accomplishments that will be made in Cumberland County. I will remain a lifelong learner and an advocate for public education."

The Cumberland County Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at Central Services. Maxwell's retirement letter is included in the agenda. It is available online through the BOE Connect portal at

The board will develop plans for a search process. In the past, that has included accepting résumés and applications itself or using a search consultant.

Maxwell's retirement follows a wave of retirement announcements across the state. Directors of the Knox, Blount, Sevier, Hamblen and Jefferson counties schools all announced their intentions to retire or resign before the start of the next school year.

The director of schools oversees the school system's daily operations, including staffing, finances and maintenance. The director is also responsible for hearing disciplinary appeals from students and staff, ensuring compliance with state and federal reporting rules, tracking student achievement and recommending teachers for tenure.

According to the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, the average tenure of a school superintendent is 3.5-4 years, though they noted the organization has seen an increase in openings during the pandemic.

Dale Lynch, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of Schools Superintendents, told WBIR in Knoxville directors are handling new challenges amid the pandemic related to changing directives from state lawmakers, federal regulations, and teacher and parent concerns.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at