Superintendent Kim Elliott

By Tyler Davis


Members of the Jackson County School Board voted unanimously Aug. 27 to extend Superintendent Kim Elliott’s contract by a year and raised her current $120,132 salary by 3 percent.

Elliott also received a “distinguished” rating on her annual evaluation.

Each board member scored Elliott on her performance and leadership skills before meeting to dispense a final verdict. “Distinguished” is the highest score a superintendent can receive.

In North Carolina, superintendents cannot be contracted for more than four years. When it comes time to extend an existing contract, board officials can extend it by one, two or three years. Elliott was first named superintendent in 2018 with a four-year contract in a 4-1 vote.

“During her tenure as superintendent, Elliott has had to show us that she is excellent at her job,” Board Chair Ali Laird-Large said. “She has come through every time.” 

“If we could rate her higher, we would,” District One Representative Elizabeth Cooper said at the meeting.

“I would hope to continue to our strategic plan and vision which includes, as the number-one priority, safe schools,” Elliott said. “And I would like very much to assist with increasing student achievement specifically for the student, not necessarily for the test scores, per se. I want students to know and grow and learn and be successful in life.”

Elliott has served as the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Specialist in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the Director of Rural Education and Teacher Recruitment at Western Carolina University, and served as the K-12 Director of Curriculum for two school systems throughout her career.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in School Administration and a doctorate in Educational Leadership, all from Appalachian State University.


On Aug. 27, Jackson County Public Schools accepted these employee recommendations: Smoky Mountain High School, Jade Benavides, color guard instructor; Lisa Evans, school nutrition assistant, Shawn Flick, marching band assistant, Seth Kirsch, custodian/bus driver, Sarah Myers, Tiffany Shuler, Exceptional Children’s teacher assistant, Matt Wilkerson, percussion instructor; School of Alternatives, Kullen Bharathae-Lane, tutor; Fairview Elementary School, Patricia Brown, school nutrition assistant, Destiny Bryson, Kearston Day, Hannah Trammel, afterschool assistants, Cleis Bonham Cauley, ESL tutor, Spencer Norris, physical education safety assistant; Cullowhee Valley Elementary School, Lindsey Cloer, Katherine Fielden, Leigh-Mashon Gaddis, Brooke Holder, afterschool assistants, Whitney Harris, teacher, Lindsi Young, temporary teacher assistant; Blue Ridge School and Early College, Kheri Cowan, assistant principal, Journey Overstreet, teacher assistant, Christina Danielle Rice, school nurse, Erica Smithdeal, social worker; Jackson County Early College, Sabrina Hallman, counselor, Emilee Nidiffer, activity bus driver, Smokey Mountain Elementary, Leigh-Mashon Gaddis, EC bus monitor morning route, James Sink, teacher; Scotts Creek Elementary School, Luisa McMahan, teacher assistant; at CVES, FES, SMHS and SCES, Judy Hale, substitute school nutrition assistant; at CVES, FES and SCES, Stephanie Lanning, substitute school nutrition assistant; at SMHS and SCES, Tracy Taylor, part-time English as a second language tutor.


Accepted the following resignations: At CVES, Jennifer Burns, school bus driver, Alla Johnson, teacher assistant, Derek Mathis, afterschool assistant, Allison Witherspoon, afterschool and summer camp assistant; at BRS, Emily Cherry, teacher, Connie Green, teacher assistant; at SMES, Rose Jordan, tutor, Tracy Obuchowski, Alaina Pangle, teachers, Sheryl Rogers, district instructional coach; at FES, Anna Ensley, afterschool assistant, Mitchel Green, Jerry Hart Jr., custodians/bus drivers, Ciera Wiggins, counselor; at Central Office, Adam Harrison, technology technician; at SMHS, Megan Davis, head coach softball, Jeff Logan, bus driver; Blue Ridge School and Early College, Jeffrey Wyant, assistant principal.


Accepted the following retirement: at SMES, Kathy McFadden, teacher assistant.


Accepted the following staff, non-staff and returning coach recommendations: at SMHS, Emmitt Baldwin, volunteer assistant coach football, Brandon Burns, Colton Danner, volunteer assistant coaches middle school football, Garrett Jones, assistant coach varsity football, Brittany Lester, volunteer assistant coach cross country, Stacy Macke, volunteer assistant coach women’s golf, Lane Roberson, assistant coach middle school football, Jesus Rosario, assistant coach district middle school boys soccer, Devon Stephens, assistant coach junior varsity football; at SMES, Beth Brooks, head coach volleyball, Alicia Kilpatrick, assistant coach volleyball, Scott Miller, assistant coach soccer, Jesus Sandoval, head coach soccer; at FES, Marissa Ellsworth, head coach volleyball, Debbie Hansen, head coach soccer; at CVES, Heather Burton, assistant coach volleyball, Jacob Friesen, assistant coach soccer; at SCES, Jill Cook, athletic director, Michelle Long, head coach volleyball, Alana Starnes, head coach girls basketball; at BREC, Carlton Fowler, head coach junior varsity volleyball, Cindy Fowler, assistant coach junior varsity volleyball, Benjamin Lugo, Cruz Lugo, volunteer assistant coaches middle school soccer, Jason Watson, volunteer assistant coach junior varsity and varsity volleyball.


Accepted the following kindergarten academy recommendations: at SCES, Kay Conner, Christy Rowe, teacher assistants, Melissa Hickman, Dorothie Willson, teachers; at FES, Georgeanne Simmons, teacher assistant.


Accepted the following summer program recommendations: at FES, Petra Giles, summer preschool coordinator, Clare Nordmann, summer certified occupational therapist assistant.


Accepted the following transfers requiring action: Noah Henderson, from full-time custodian/bus driver at SMHS to part-time custodian/bus driver at SMHS, Shane Smith, from custodian/bus driver at BREC to custodian/bus driver at SMHS.

Davis is a WCU student interning with The Sylva Herald.