Karns Administrator Earns
Statewide RecognitionPosted by Josh Flory on 1/10/2019
Laicee Hatfield isn’t a fan of the phrase “Because I said so.”
The assistant principal at Karns High School is a believer in collaborative leadership, and wants students, parents and teachers to understand the “why” behind decisions that are made at the school.
But her voice may have more authority than usual after a recent recognition. The Tennessee Association of Secondary School Principals recently named Hatfield as its Assistant Principal of the Year, beating out finalists from Middle and West Tennessee.
Brad Corum, the executive principal at Karns, nominated Hatfield for the award, and described her as a workhorse who has provided leadership in scheduling and curriculum development, while fostering an environment where individuals have a say in decision-making.
“She gives students the opportunity to have a voice and in any conversations, good or bad, she gives parents a voice,” Corum said.
Hatfield was a chemistry teacher at Central High School for seven years, but her love of science wasn’t immediate. She had initially majored in elementary education and said that she hated science, but an instructor at Pellissippi State Community College helped unlock the subject for her.
“That’s when I realized a teacher can make or break a content (area) for a kid,” Hatfield said. “She listened, she understood, she explained. She helped you understand the ‘why’.”
Hatfield went on to major in chemistry, and said that while teaching at Central, former principal Danny Trent gave her leadership opportunities. She was in no hurry to leave the classroom, but eventually followed the advice that she had given to others over the years.
“I enjoyed science and I also enjoyed the students,” Hatfield said. “But one thing I always challenged my students and teachers is to get outside of your comfort zone, because if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing.”
Hatfield was selected as a University of Tennessee Leadership Academy fellow, and served as an assistant principal at Farragut High School for a year, before moving to Karns in 2013.
As an administrator, one of the biggest challenges has been time management. Hatfield said it can be difficult to break away and spend time with her family, but that she’s tried to re-prioritize that work-life balance.
When she’s not in the office, Hatfield is an avid reader, and said her favorite authors include spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle and journalist Malcolm Gladwell. Reading is also a way for her to re-charge her batteries, which she said is crucial for teachers and educators.
“I tell our teachers you can’t pour into others and help others … until you’re full yourself,” she said. “Whatever it is that makes you full, whether it’s hiking or reading or spending time with your family, until you’re full you can’t pour your emotions and yourself into others.”