I am all in… Church pledges full commitment as new Cloudland High principal

Published 6:00 am Monday, August 5, 2019




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As the first student walks into Cloudland High School on the first day of a new school year, they will be more than likely greeted as they enter by an unfamiliar face in new principal Richard Church but that should only be short-lived for a couple of weeks.

Church fully believes that one of the most important things on his early agenda is to get to know each student who fills a seat in the classroom at Cloudland.

“It is one of the most imperative things an administrator can do,” Church said after the football media day on Thursday.

“There is no reason after giving me a couple of weeks that I won’t know every kid’s name and face and put those together and be able to talk to them and personalize with them in the hallways, in the band room, on the football field and they will see me at all those places.

“I am totally invested in the students at Cloudland High School. That is one of my first things to do. That’s why it was important for me to be up here today for media day,” Church continued. “That’s why it’s going to be important for me to be at their scrimmage tomorrow and I have already met with the band and band director at band camp last week. That’s what motivates me to do this.

“It’s not what the adults get out of it. It’s what I can continue to do to help these kids and help make Cloudland High School a top-notch school.”

Church began his journey toward the administrative position traveling a path that led through many curvy roads before landing as the head administrator at the Roan Mountain school.

“I am originally from Johnson County and grew up in the Neva area of Johnson County,” Church stated. “I went to Johnson County High School and then went on to East Tennessee State University.

“I started teaching fresh out of college in Johnson City back in the late ’90s. I got into administration at Johnson County from 2003 to 2005 where I was an assistant principal at Mountain City Elementary School.

“From there, I went back to Johnson City and served in administration from 2006 to 2010 and then we had some very young kids at home and I stepped away and was a classroom teacher and program coordinator for the last 9 to 10 years,” Church continued.

“I was presented with an opportunity to get back into administration and lead a school community and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it than Roan Mountain honestly just because it’s still a true community school, it’s still a true melting pot for where you bring a community together.

“This really brought me back out and said it was time to do this again.”

From a leadership standpoint, Church said that he feels that it is important for everyone to be on the same page working toward the same end goal, then everything else will find it’s right place.

“Probably the biggest thing I can bring in leadership to the faculty is an understanding of the end goal—keeping our eyes on the proverbial prize. There are so many things in school now that can get adults wrapped up in adult issues,” commented Church.

“I don’t like doing this or the curriculum has changed again—the bottom line, the end goal is we provide a world-class education to every kid that walks through our door.

“And if we can keep that as our focus, and I am a climate culture guy, the other things will always fall into place—always.”

Church realizes that the Roan Mountain community is a tight-knit community and when it comes to taking care of their own, they show up in numbers.

“I would send out a message to the Highlander community that I am all in,” Church stated with conviction.

“It’s a very inclusive community but you will not find, and I have known this with my connections with this community through sports, but you will not find people who are more committed to their kids, more committed to their school, or just willing to do whatever it takes to help their kids be successful.

“And for that, I am blessed. They will see that I am all in.”

Church and his wife, Tori, have a combined family of four children that range in age from 15 to nine years of age.

“Our family is a combined family so it’s a laughing joke at our house that we cover five schools in two different school districts. We have kids in Johnson City schools and Carter County schools and now I am the principal at Cloudland so we cover five different schools,” said Church.