After the Board of Education vote, Halliburton, who will be the first woman to lead the district, stood for a receiving line of school board members, county commissioners and school faculty hoping to wish her congratulations and good luck.
“I am absolutely delighted to serve in this community, to serve the boys and girls and the families in this community, and work with probably the best board I’ve encountered,” she said after 15 minutes of glad-handing well-wishers. “I’m elated, excited and can’t wait to get started.”
Halliburton comes to Washington County from Metro Nashville Public Schools, where she was principal of Waverly-Belmont Elementary School, which opened in August, and lead principal of five other schools. She started as a special education teacher for the capital city district in 1988, worked as faculty for 12 years, then moved to administration, where she served for the next 14 years.
When she officially becomes director July 1, she will move from a district with nearly 90,000 students to one with 9,700, but she said she and her husband were excited about the change from Middle to East Tennessee.
“There’s a rather large difference, but, you know, I’m going to feel right at home right here in Washington County,” she said. “I’ve had really positive feedback from the community members and the board members.”
Halliburton is mother of three children, including a daughter attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a son living in Putnam County, which helped shaped the desire to move to East Tennessee.
She said she plans to arrive in the area before her new position starts, while school is still in session, so she can meet with students and faculty members and familiarize herself with the area.
Among her first plans as director is assessing the needs of the district and working to improve state achievement scores.
When it opened last year, her current school, Waverly-Belmont, was named a technology demonstration school, to be used as an example for other schools in the district. In the school, teachers use touch panels during class that can be mirrored on handheld devices for students or sent to absent students for homework.
Halliburton said she hoped to bring some of her experience in connected classrooms to Washington County.
“I’m a firm believer in the use of technology in instruction, both as a presentation tool for teachers, but also as a tool for students to use,” she said.
La Dawn Hudgins, president of the Washington County Education Association, said most of her feedback from teachers and support staff regarding Halliburton has been positive.
“Based on my emails and text messages and phone calls, I think faculty and staff are going to be very pleased,” Hudgins said.
Email Nathan Baker at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jcpressbaker or on Facebook at facebook.com/jcpressbaker.