Meet Carter County Schools new superintendent, Tracy McAbee

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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Tracy McAbee, the new superintendent of Carter County Schools, is a strong believer in success and hard work going hand-in-hand.
McAbee is a married father of two, and has had a 24-year teaching career. He also loves the great outdoors.
“I really like being outside,” he said. “My daughters, we try to take them to national parks. We started that a long time ago. Of course being a teacher, you can’t go on vacation every year. You’ve got to save your quarters up. So every other year we’d do that. So we’ve been to several.”
The Polk County native said he had first seen Carter County on his way through to one of these trips. He says he immediately found the area to be gorgeous. He liked the rural similarities of the region to that of his home.
McAbee said his teaching career began by studying forestry, and then biology in college.
“Well I started out at Cleveland State University in forestry, and then got turned on to some of those biology classes, and decided to become a biology teacher,” he said.
McAbee spent around 13 years teaching science in middle and high school. This was followed by a role as an assistant principal at a high school. During this time he also coached, and even drove school buses as well. He said the real change to his career happened, however, when he began working at an elementary school.
“That’s when things really started to change for me because my training had not been in teaching little kids how to read and write,” he said. “That’s when I decided I needed to go back and educate myself. So I went back to UT Knoxville, and obtained another reading specialist degree.”
Reflecting on his time in teaching, McAbee said he has appreciated the journey.
“Working with those kids at the elementary school, the high fives and hugs everyday, I mean I was more important than Brad Pitt to those guys,” he said.
In his various roles throughout his teaching career, he said there hasn’t been one singular lens he has looked through.
“I’ve had a lot of jobs, and have been fortunate enough to learn a lot from that,” he said.
McAbee said he ended up applying for the superintendent position here after seeing it online and hearing of open positions from colleagues. He said that in taking your graduate courses and working toward leadership roles, this is on your mind. His prior exposure to Carter County, and his daughters moving away to college, added to his decision to apply.
In his new role, McAbee said he hopes to get to know people, and also have those crucial conversations surrounding school and federal funding due to COVID. In the long run, he has a heart in literacy at the elementary level, and also wants a focus on CTE courses for high school students.
Throughout his work, and future work, McAbee wants the residents of Carter County to know he is a strong believer in hard work. He believes that this is the key to success.
“A lot of what I believe is that successful people, they get there through hard work,” he said. “Now, there’s a lot of opportunities that come along with that, and I guess I’ve been fortunate that my hard work and preparation hit an opportunity where I could better myself. I’m truly a believer in hard work.”
McAbee also wants people to know this belief goes beyond students,
“I want the students of Carter County to know that hard work makes things happen for you,” he said. “I want parents to know this will be a focus of mine, and that this isn’t just for the kids, but for me, our teachers and board. Successful people are successful because of hard work.”

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