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Shannon Blackburn selected as Arlington Middle School principal

Arlington Community Schools is excited to welcome Shannon Blackburn as Arlington Middle School’s new principal! Blackburn, the current assistant principal at Houston High School in Germantown and a former principal in Kentucky, will step into the role to replace Tabetha Banks, who will be celebrating her well-earned retirement in May.

While Blackburn’s current position is in the high school environment, her background in education extends throughout Grades K-12, including roles as an elementary principal, a K-12 instructional support specialist for Title I schools and a professional growth and effectiveness coach. 

“One of the things that excites me the most about having Mrs. Blackburn as the middle school principal is her extensive experience working with students and teachers across all grade levels,” Superintendent Jeff Mayo said.  “She’s been a building level principal, so she understands the complexity of managing a school on all fronts.  Her work across all grade levels has been focused on data disaggregation and effective instructional practices.  From her experiences, she knows exactly what academic skills 6th graders should enter middle school with and which skills 8th graders will need to enter Arlington High.”

As Houston High’s assistant principal, a role she’s held since 2020, Blackburn has been responsible for discipline, curriculum and instruction of specific grade levels and has also served as the school’s testing coordinator, ensuring state testing runs smoothly and efficiently for teachers and students. Before Houston High, she was the principal at Ashland Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky. It’s there in Lexington where she also served as the county’s District Title I Instructional Specialist, where she offered extensive training and knowledge in helping Title I schools disaggregate data more efficiently and effectively, in turn helping administrators and teachers with curriculum and instructional strategies, professional development and curriculum adoption. During this time, she also served as the Elite Middle School Math Coach for the state of Kentucky.

Arlington has been on her map since moving to Tennessee! A mom to two girl athletes, Ellee and Caroline, she has often found herself in the community watching her daughters play competitive softball and volleyball. The small-town community feel was an instant attraction. “It’s clear in Arlington that the community rallies around the schools and keeps their focus on the students,” Blackburn said about why she was drawn to Arlington Middle. “Arlington is also a growing community, so it’s exciting to be a part of something that is only going to give students more opportunities.”

While Blackburn’s expertise in elevating instructional practices and analyzing student data will undoubtedly be valuable assets, she first wants to immerse herself in the school community to gain a deeper understanding of its culture and to identify its specific needs.

“I’m a firm believer that the student always comes first, but when we think about that, you have to consider the culture and climate of the school and of the community. Once that’s understood, you can then marry those two together in a way that allows growth with the students but also growth within the larger school community,” Blackburn explained. “For me, that means getting my face out there to get to know the students and parents throughout all of Arlington because they will eventually come through AMS and proceed to the high school.”

Superintendent Mayo expressed his enthusiasm for Mrs. Blackburn's exceptional qualifications, noting that both her current superintendent and principal say, “Mrs. B is a rockstar capable of achieving anything.” 

“Middle school can be a tough transition for students,” Superintendent Mayo continued. “The coursework is more varied and rigorous, and with that heightened expectation, it often coincides with big social changes. But I believe Mrs. Blackburn’s dynamic energy, personable approach and commitment to data-driven decision-making will give both students and staff the confidence to excel and improve in academics and personal growth.”

More About Mrs. Blackburn: She’s married to her husband, Joe, whose daughters, Ellee and Caroline, will be in the 6th and 8th grade next school year. She laughs that her “free time,” like many parents, is spent on the volleyball court and softball fields watching her daughters play competitive sports. She’s quite the competitor herself, actually. Blackburn is a former marathon runner and was once just two minutes shy from qualifying for the Boston Marathon. As a native of Kansas City, Missouri, she’s also a major Chiefs fan, long before the team’s most recent Superbowl wins. Despite her credentials in education, her first career was actually spent being a physical therapist, ultimately realizing that teaching was her calling.

Blackburn will officially begin her new role as Arlington Middle’s Head Tiger on July 1st. Welcome to Arlington, Mrs. Blackburn!