Coffee Chat with City Schools Director Dr. Joey Vaughn

What is your background in education?

I have spent my life in Manchester and Coffee County. I graduated from Coffee County Central High School in 1986 and then went to Martin College in Pulaski, Tenn. for two years. From Martin I transferred to Middle Tennessee State University and graduated with a degree in social studies and a minor in secondary education. I later was able to earn a master’s degree from MTSU, a specialist in education degree from TTU, and finally a doctoral degree from Trevecca.

For my first job, I was fortunate enough to be able to return to Coffee County and begin my career in education. My first teaching job was at Coffee County Middle School teaching 8th grade American History. From that first teaching assignment, I have had many wonderful opportunities to work in our community. I have been a principal at all three levels of public education (Hickerson Elementary, Coffee County Middle School, and Coffee County Central High School). At the district level, I was able to work as Attendance Supervisor and Director of Instruction in Manchester City Schools and Deputy Director in Coffee County Schools. I currently am honored to serve as the Director of Manchester City Schools.

Is there a memory that stands out as a confirmation of why you got into teaching?

It is kind of funny, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. As I went through school, there were many teachers who made an incredibly positive impact on my life. Getting to know people and wanting to make a difference has always been something that was important to me. There was never a question about what I wanted to do.

Has moving from teaching to administration changed your perspective on education?

In some ways it has, but we are all here for the same reason so my perspective hasn’t changed much. We are here to build relationships and help our students grow as individuals.

What are some things that you see as important in education today?

There are so many things that are important for our kids. The world is changing at a rapid pace and we have to be diligent in helping prepare our students for the future. Building strong foundational skills at an early age is incredibly important. As students gain that foundation, we need to begin providing opportunities that allow students to find their talents and interests to help them grow and gain confidence. Those experiences help prepare them as they continue the education process.

One shift that is happening now is an increased focus on Career and Technical Education at an earlier age. There are so many opportunities for young people, whether it be in the work force, TCAT, or college. It is very important for us to give students an opportunity to learn about those opportunities. Our kids have big dreams and that is our responsibility.

What are some exciting things happening at Manchester City Schools that the community might like to know about?

Manchester City Schools have many activities that are exciting for our students and their families. At College Street and Westwood Elementary you will find students participating in cross country, art, newspaper, yearbook, Circle of Friends, and other classes which are geared to individual student interests. Each elementary school also has special programs that are specific to that school. Westwood Elementary has developed an impressive theatre program while College Street has a unique steel drum band. We work to make each day special.

Westwood Middle School has expanding course offerings this year to include high school credit courses to our 8th grade students. Westwood has historically excelled in the arts and this year those programs continue to grow. Theatre, music, and art are all classes that bring unique experiences to our students. The academic honors program is also back at WMS and we are excited about the growth we are seeing in our students.

One thing many people in the community may not be aware of is the availability of technology to the students in Manchester City Schools. Westwood Middle is a one-to-one school, meaning all students in the school have a computer (Chromebook) provided by the district that they are allowed to use during the school year. Our elementary students also have access to Chromebooks. Each elementary school has multiple computer carts with classroom sets of Chromebooks for student use. Grades 3-5 generally spend the most time with the carts. Our PreK-2 students also use technology in the form of iPads. Students learning to use technology in an academic setting at an early age helps prepare them for future success.

What’s in store for you and/or MCS in the future?

As a community, we are growing and this presents incredible opportunities for our families and MCS. We will continue to work to prepare our students for the future and look for opportunities to grow with our town.

As for my future, I take one day at a time and know that I have been blessed with a loving family, a career that I love, and a community that is amazing. Each day is a journey and I am proud to call Manchester and Coffee County home – the future is still being written.