From a decision to director: Five questions with Bill Flanary

Jessica Fuller • Dec 18, 2018 at 2:34 PM

Bill Flanary stepped in as interim director of Washington County Schools earlier this year, and, with support from the Board of Education, he became the director of Washington County Schools about five months later. 

Flanary’s career in education started with a decision while he was getting his undergraduate degree at Tennessee Tech that eventually led to a master’s degree in education and, eventually, a doctorate in educational leadership from East Tennessee State University. 

Fast Facts
Favorite subject in high school: Latin. I don’t remember any of it, but I really liked the teacher.
Hobbies: I hold a private pilot’s license, but I gave up flying because it got so expensive. My favorite pastime right now is scuba diving. I’ve been certified for about four years. There’s something really peaceful about being submerged in 50 feet of water. I went sky diving a couple of months ago, and will never, ever do that again. Ever.
Favorite place to get coffee (or tea): My youngest daughter makes really good oolong tea, so wherever she’s making tea is my favorite place to get tea.
Where you got your degrees: I have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Tennessee Technological University, a master’s degree in education from the University of Tennessee, a specialist degree in school administration from ETSU and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from ETSU.
If you could vacation anywhere, where would it be?  That’s a tough question. We really enjoy the Florida Keys, but we’re also big Universal Orlando fans.


Q. What led you to pursue education?

A. When I was an undergraduate at Tennessee Tech I became involved with the collegiate chapter of the Future Farmers of America. I worked with area high school FFA members as they prepared for various competitions, and it just felt right for me. I took the classes I needed to get my teaching license.

Q. What is special about Washington County Schools?

A. What has always impressed me about Washington County Schools is the fierce loyalty shown by the people employed here. Our schools aren’t just a place to work. Our teachers and staff members identify with their schools. They are serious about what they do and the effect they have on their communities. Co-workers become family.

Q. What was your first job as an educator, and what was your path to administration?

A. My first professional job was as an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at David Crockett High School. Teaching high school agriculture is the best job in all of public education, bar none. I moved into administration when the superintendent at the time needed a part-time vocational supervisor because the person already in that position was moving into supervision of our fledgling IT department. I never actually applied for the job … it was more of a “tag, you’re it” promotion. In time I became an assistant director of schools, and then some months ago became director of schools.

Q. What is most rewarding to you about working in education?

A. It’s always great to see students graduate and become successful adults, but the most rewarding thing for me is seeing former students become teachers themselves. I consider that to be the ultimate compliment any student can pay a teacher.

Q. What would you like to see for Washington County Schools in five years?

A. I’d like to see our early grade literacy rate move to the maximum level possible. Every child matriculating from the third grade should be able to read to their individual potential. Washington County Schools must place that before all other goals. Secondly, this school system must realize its potential as an economic engine and job creator. I am convinced that we best serve students when we position ourselves as partners to area business and industry. If the regional job market has a high demand for health care professionals, satisfying that need starts with us. If the job market needs diesel mechanics, or accountants, or retail managers, or whatever, we as a school system have to get out in front of that. If we operate this school system in a vacuum, the community suffers. If we view ourselves as a part of the whole, the community will benefit.

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