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Francis-Hodges named Tennessee Principal of the Year

Tina Francis-Hodges

Francis-Hodges named Tennessee Principal of the Year

 PUTNAM COUNTY, TENN. - Tina Francis-Hodges, the principal at Jere Whitson Elementary,  has been named the 2023-2024 Principal of the Year for the State of Tennessee. Francis-Hodges found out she had won the prestigious award tonight at the Tennessee Department of Education’s annual Excellence in Education celebration in Nashville.

“I was so surprised,” said Francis-Hodges, who is the first-ever Putnam County principal to receive the award. “I am very honored and thrilled to have been chosen as the Principal of the Year for the State of Tennessee. I have my entire school family to thank for all of their hard work in teaching and loving our students each and every day.” 

The Tennessee Principal of the Year award is given annually to a school leader for outstanding service in education and exceptional leadership that drives overall improvements in his or her school. To qualify, candidates must have at least three years of experience as a principal and a minimum of five years of experience in Tennessee public schools. In addition, all nominees must have a proven track record of exceptional gains in student learning. Mrs. Francis-Hodges checked all those boxes in being named the PCSS Principal of the Year before earning a spot in the top three in the Middle Tennessee Region.

“We could not be more proud of Mrs. Francis-Hodges for her dedication to public education. She has been in education for over 34 years and has faced many challenges, seen the world of education evolve all while continuing to care deeply for her students, faculty, and staff,” said Corby King, Putnam County Director of Schools. “She led her school to become a 2022-23 Reward School, the first time Jere Whitson has ever received that honor. She continues to showcase her commitment to excellence in education and grow her student’s learning.” 

Mrs. Francis-Hodges encourages and serves as a role model in community support by building partnerships between educators, dedicated school staff, students, families, and members of the community to best support her students and provide opportunities that they can take beyond the classroom.

“Mrs. Francis’ dedication, leadership, and unwavering commitment to her school community have made a profound impact,” said Kyle Loudermilk, the 2022-2023 Tennessee Principal of the Year. “This recognition is a testament to her outstanding qualities and a reflection of the remarkable year students had under her guidance. Her selection as Principal of the Year is well-deserved and a source of inspiration.”

For more information on the 2023-2024 Principal of the Year, go to the Tennessee Department of Education website at