By Heather Mullinix
Outgoing Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle got a surprise last week during a special reception to recognize her for 32 years in education and more than six as the leader of the school system.
The Cumberland County Board of Education presented a $500 scholarship in her name to Robert Sapp, a 2013 graduate of the Phoenix School who is currently a full-time student at Tennessee Technology Center at Crossville.
VanWinkle thanked the board and said, "This touches my heart. It truly does. You know where my heart is. You really do."
The scholarship, to be awarded annually in May or June, is open to any high school senior who wishes to continue their education at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology or Roane State Community College; has at least a 3.0 GPA from a Cumberland County high school; and plans on enrolling full time by the following fall semester.
The Tennessee College of Applied Technology is the name the Tennessee Technology Centers will be known by after July 1, 2013, following action by the Tennessee General Assembly.
Recipients will be selected on the basis of past educational performance, participation in school and community activities, career commitment, prior Career and Technical Education training and recommendations from a counselor, teacher or principal.
The first recipient of the award is Sapp, who was a student of VanWinkle's while she was principal at Homestead Elementary prior to being named director of schools.
"It couldn't have gone to a better person," VanWinkle said of Sapp.
Sapp is the son of Bill and Joy Sapp. He is studying carpentry at TTCC and also working full time at Walmart.
"It was a big surprise. I wasn't expecting this," Sapp said.
VanWinkle began her career in the school system as a substitute teacher and was then employed as a cafeteria worker, a teaching assistant and a clerk before becoming a classroom teacher. She was a principal and a supervisor before she was appointed director of schools in January 2007.
VanWinkle will step down as director of schools June 30. Incoming Director of Schools Donald Andrews will assume the position July 1.