Superintendent Search

Tennessee Schools for the Deaf Announces Next Superintendent - Friday, July 30th, 2021
Video Announcement (ASL with English Interpreting) 
Press Release from Innivee Strategies Announcing Dr. Sandra Edwards as TSD's Next Superintendent
Tennessee School for the Deaf Superintendent Finalists Interviews - July 12-14
Dr. Sandra G. Edwards - July 12
Dr. Martin P. Keller - July 13
Dawniela Patterson - July 14
Tennessee School for the Deaf Announces Superintendent Finalists & Schedule - Monday, June 21, 2021


The Tennessee School for the Deaf (TSD) Superintendent Search Committee recommended three finalists to Josh Mason, Assistant Commissioner of State Special Schools at Tennessee Department of Education who supported the recommendation.

The TSD Finalists are:

 Dr. Sandra G. Edwards

Dr. Sandra Edwards

Dr. Edwards currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Deaf Education program at the University of Montevallo. She obtained her doctorate degree in Deaf Education and Deaf Studies in 2012, her master’s degree in School Leadership in 2005, and her Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education in 1987. She has served in the field of Deaf Education since 1988, where she began as a classroom teacher. This classroom experience was used in the development of a reading program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, which is utilized as a tool in reading comprehension in school programs across the country and abroad. 

Dr. Edwards served in a variety of school leadership positions including Superintendent, Principal, and Director of Instruction in a state school setting. Dr. Edwards served on the national front, most recently as Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools for the Deaf (CEASD) President Elect and President from 2014-2018. She credits her introduction to Deaf education to her Deaf father and the Deaf community who taught her about Deaf people, ASL, and Deaf Culture. She credits her growth as an educator and leader to the many Deaf students who she has taught and guided. 


Dr. Martin P. Keller

Dr. Martin Keller

Dr. Martin P. Keller, Jr. is a seasoned educator and administrator having worked in a vast array of roles in the field of Deaf Education for more than 22 years, including 11 years as a principal and two (2)  years as a superintendent of a state residential school. As a visionary transformational change agent and innovator, Martin consistently focuses his energy on improving academic success and building positive relationships with all students and stakeholders.  He strongly believes in social-emotional, anti-racism, anti-bias, and social justice education and has a “student-first” mentality.  

Martin was born profoundly Deaf into an all-Deaf family of 10 in Chicago and attended a residential school for the deaf for the first 6 years of his education.  He holds a doctorate in Deaf Education from Lamar University; an Educational Specialist degree in Change Leadership program from Gallaudet University; a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Xavier University; a Master’s degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College; and a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  In his spare time, Martin enjoys cooking, hiking, Cross-fitting, traveling, and being involved in non-profit organizations, such as the GBC-Zambia Foundation and the national Poor People’s Campaign.  He is also a proud father of a two-month old Deaf daughter. 


Dawniela Patterson

Dawniela Patterson

Dawniela Patterson is in her fifth year as the Assistant Superintendent/Principal at the Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia Campus. Under her leadership, its student enrollment has increased every year. Additionally, she has over 15 years of experience in educational leadership in various teaching and administrator roles focusing on high academic standards. Patterson believes that all students can become contributing citizens by developing and nurturing a school culture that promotes equity, inclusion, accessibility, and student engagement with empathy, as well as academic rigor.

At the Columbia Campus, she collaborated with department heads in school planning and administration, regularly communicated with the stakeholders, formed a curriculum team that relied on data-informed academic decisions, created a school culture of shared responsibility for learning, and led the ASL-English Framework and Action Plan committees. She has presented at national and international conferences on language planning and bilingual methodology. Patterson holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Indiana University and an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education with concentration in Intervention Specialist from Otterbein University in Ohio. She is certified in School Administration, Early Childhood Education, Elementary, and Mild Intervention as well as  residential program administration.


Tennessee School for the Deaf Finalist Visit & Interview Schedule

The Tennessee School for the Deaf Finalists will visit the Knoxville campus from July 12-14, 2021 with each candidate following the same daily schedule. The portions of the campus visit that are open to the public include the following:

Finalist Interview Dates
Monday, July 12 - Sandra Edwards
Tuesday, July 13 - Martin Keller
Wednesday, July 14 - Dawniela Patterson

Finalist Presentation and Search Committee Interview
Streamed Live on the TSD Facebook Page
3:00 to 5:00 pm EDT / 2:00 - 4:00 pm CDT

Meet & Greet with the Finalist (Staff & Community)

TSDN & WTSD – Zoom

4:30 – 5:00 pm CDT
(*Zoom Registration Required)

Tennessee School for the Deaf Knoxville
Alan J. Mealka High School (Outside)
6:15 - 7:30 pm EDT

After each public finalist activity, the community will be given the opportunity to provide their input through an online feedback survey that will be shared during the event. If you have requests for accommodations or other questions about participating in the virtual, live-stream event or in-person campus meet and greet, please contact

About Tennessee School for the Deaf
Tennessee Schools for the Deaf (TSD) is comprised of three campuses: Knoxville (main campus), Nashville, and Jackson. Established in 1844 in Knoxville, TSD has now been serving deaf and hard of hearing children in the state of Tennessee for over 175 years. TSD has a rich history in educating deaf and hard of hearing children and has developed a strong reputation for serving parents and local education agencies across the state of Tennessee. Please visit the TSD website - to learn more about our school and programs. 


About Innivee Strategies, Inc.

Innivee Strategies, Inc. provides organizations with systemic frameworks that enables them to build a strong strategic direction toward their desired vision. We engage leaders and stakeholders in collaborating together to choose the best governance model, set leadership, staff, and volunteer expectations, align and optimize resources, and manage change. Innivee Strategies is a leading search firm in the recruitment and placement of executives and leaders of organizations that serve the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Our services also include Effective Governance, Organizational Assessment, Strategic Planning, Change Management, Executive Support Systems, Leadership Development, and Guided Facilitation. Please visit our website at to learn about our clients and their testimonies about how our services have benefited their organizations.


ASL Version

The Tennessee School for the Deaf Search Committee announces that it has selected two co-Chairs, Jessica McMahon and Scotty Lee. They will work with Innivee Strategies, Inc., the TSD Superintendent search consultant, and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) to lead the candidate interviews and finalist process.

The TSD Superintendent search committee has held three meetings to date in which the committee members received an overview of roles and responsibilities and timeline. In addition, the search committee received training and support from Innivee Strategies consultant Kathryn Canfield, SHRM-certified HR professional to prepare for the interview and selection process. Sara Miller and Latoya Miller had to leave their roles on the TSD Search committee due to personal reasons.

The TSD Superintendent application deadline was on Friday, May 14. We received many applications. We want to thank the community for your support and encouraging potential applicants to apply. The search committee met on Wednesday, March 27 and decided on which applicants to invite to interview. Now the search committee will interview candidates in June. After the interviews, the search committee will recommend candidates to become finalists to the TDOE Assistant Commissioner of state special schools, Josh Mason. 

The TSD Superintendent finalists are scheduled to be announced around the end of June 2021. The plan at this time is to have the finalists flown to Knoxville in mid-July for the finalist community and school forums and search committee interview. The details about the finalist process will be available at a later date. We are on track to have our new Superintendent announced by early August. Please continue to monitor the TSD Superintendent Search webpage on the TSD website.

Contact the Innivee Strategies consultant, Shane Feldman, at if you have any questions about the search process.

Superintendent Prospectus
Tennessee Schools for the Deaf (TSD) opened its application process for the next Superintendent on April 23, 2021. The TSD Superintendent Prospectus includes important information for prospective candidates including an overview of TSD's three campuses (Knoxville, Nashville, and Jackson),  the job description and requirements, and the leader profile. 
The Tennessee Schools for the Deaf (TSD) superintendent leader profile was developed with input from six focus groups containing diverse stakeholders from the TSD community: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), on-campus affiliations, community members, students, and the search committee. The leader profile included responses from over 30 focus group participants along with 80+ responses to the community survey. The Department of Education and the TSD Superintendent Search Committee are appreciative and grateful for the community’s contributions to TSD’s superintendent search process.
If you know of a potential candidate who is qualified for the Superintendent position at Tennessee Schools for the Deaf, please share our webpage and the prospectus with them.
All applications submitted by Friday, May 14, 2021 will receive full consideration. Application materials including a cover letter, resume, and three references should be e-mailed to
Prospectus Video Announcement (ASL)
Job Description

TSD Superintendent (Director of Schools) Search Committee


  • Anna Austin, Tennessee Association of the Deaf Representative, Knoxville
  • Bobby Cooper, Facilities Manager, Knoxville 
  • Briella Diaz, Deaf Mentor Coordinator, Knoxville 
  • Amy Ferrell, Parent, Nashville 
  • Caroline Gowin, Speech Language Pathologist, Nashville 
  • Meme Kerr, ASL Instruction Specialist, Knoxville 
  • Scotty Lee, Alumnus, Knoxville 
  • Veronica McDonald, Assistant Principal, Jackson 
  • Jessica McMahon, Principal, Knoxville 
  • Adam Montgomery, Parent, Knoxville
  • Carmen Morales, Parent, Jackson 
  • Cheryl Shahan, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 
  • Brian Vogt, Student Life Supervisor, Knoxville 
  • Two TSD High School Students
Superintendent Leader Profile - Community Survey Now Open through Wednesday, March 31st - 11:59 pm EST - *Note: The survey is being conducted by Innivee Strategies. (Now closed)
Tennessee Schools for the Deaf Announces Collaboration with Innivee Strategies for the Superintendent (Director of Schools) Search - March 4, 2021
Superintendent's Personal Retirement Message to TSD Staff, Students, Parents, Families, and Stakeholders
December 18, 2020
Search Timeline:
  • April - Focus groups and surveys
  • May - Marketing & recruitment
  • June - Interviews with Search Committee
  • July - Finalist community forums
  • August - Finalist interviews and hire