New principal embraces Gresham traditions

Beth KinnaneFountain City, Our Town Youth

If there’s a common thread to the start of the school year across Knox County, it’s change, and a lot of it. New Knox County Schools Superintendent Jon Rysewyk has reorganized the administration which resulted in some shuffled decks amongst the principals across the system.

Gresham Middle School is no exception, with long-time principal Donna Parker moving into the position of secondary staffing supervisor. Gresham’s new principal is Melissa Glover. A Memphis native, she’s been in Knoxville for 20 years and is serving her 19th year with KCS.

Melissa Glover

Most recently, Glover was an assistant principal at Hardin Valley Middle School. She also served as an AP at Austin-East Magnet as well as Powell high schools following a decade as a teacher at Farragut High School.

“Honestly, I was kind of surprised they didn’t send me south,” Glover laughed, noting she’s served in all other areas except that one. “I’ve covered a lot of the county. One thing I have learned, though, is kids are kids no matter what school you’re in. It’s given me a great perspective.”

What Glover learned fast after coming to Gresham is that Fountain City is a place all its own. Though she doesn’t live there, the community has grown on her quickly.

“I absolutely love Fountain City. We have fantastic support from the community, and a good deal of that comes from many generations that have gone to this school,” she said of the building that was once Central High School, then Gresham Junior High before becoming a middle school.

The auditorium at Gresham

As a former history teacher, she said she has great appreciation for the school’s long connection to Fountain City and that her favorite room (if you can call it that) is the auditorium – “it’s so beautiful, it’s kind of magical.”

Right now, Glover is pushing the coupon book campaign – “last year it was the biggest fundraiser we had” – and singing the praises of the school’s foundation, which most KCS schools have these days to raise funds for items and improvements that are not included in the budget.

“It’s all the little things the foundation does, from providing breakfast or meals on in-service days, to campus clean-ups, they’re just phenomenal,” she said.

While the Gresham Middle School Foundation provides a variety of support throughout the year, an ongoing fund-raising project that is just a few thousand dollars shy of its goal is for an electronic billboard to display events, notifications and updates. Glover said exactly where it will be placed hasn’t been determined yet, but that it will be an additional tool for keeping parents and the community aware of school happenings.

Outdoor classroom at Gresham

She is also looking forward to school athletics getting into swing, with basketball season just around the corner. On Friday, the school will host a ‘poetry slam’ in its outdoor classroom space that sits where Central principal Hassie Gresham’s house once stood. The classroom is surrounded by the school’s arboretum, one of three Knox County schools to have one among the 10 total in the county.

Glover is glad to be “out of crisis mode” where Covid-19 is concerned and back to “doing school.” Lastly, she asked anyone interested in helping the school to please support the foundation.

To make a donation or to volunteer for the Gresham Middle School Foundation, go here.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.com.

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