Blount Education Initiative names first director

The Blount Education Initiative’s first executive director is a Maryville native who has reported extensively on each of the school systems in Blount County.

Former Daily Times education reporter/assistant city editor Bonny C. Millard was recently chosen to provide day-to-day leadership for the new entity, Blount County Education Initiative executive committee chair Mark Cate said.

The Initiative hopes to raise the level of awareness about the importance of education and to make it the community’s No. 1 priority, said Cate. The initiative developed out of Maryville College and Leadership Blount’s 2006 Leadership Summit from a group of dedicated educational professionals, business leaders and community leaders who wanted to capture the energy that the Summit fostered.

“We feel that if education is made the No. 1 priority, most of the other issues facing our community can be resolved,” Cate said.

Cate said Millard’s knowledge and relationships in the Blount education community made her a perfect match for the Initiative. “Bonny Millard has developed important relationships with school administrators, teachers and many of the school board members,” Cate said of her appointment. “We are excited to have Bonny coming on board and look forward to working with her in the years to come.”

Millard will be responsible for putting together a campaign to promote education in the community and flesh out the organization’s goals. This grass-roots effort will bolster an already strong educational tradition in the Blount community, said Millard.

“Our role is going to be making education a top priority in this community, and we’re not with one school system or another,” Millard said. “We’re here to support all school systems. We’re not a funding arm.”

Millard said she covered education for three years and enjoyed getting to know all the people in three different school systems plus Maryville College and Maryville Christian School. “That has been a unique opportunity. I appreciate what our educators do. They work very hard and sometimes don’t get the praise they deserve,” she said.

When this opportunity came up, Millard said she thought it was something she would be interested in pursuing. “I didn’t want just a job, I wanted something I could contribute back to the community,” she said. “I was hoping to stay in Blount County, and I feel very happy and fortunate I have this opportunity.”

The Initiative is privately funded by local businesses and individuals. Millard’s office will be located at the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, 201 S. Washington St.

She may be reached at 865-273-1210 or at blounteducation@aol.com.

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