Franklin Special School District's Dr. David Snowden was announced as the 2024 Superintendent of the Year by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents on September 10, 2023, at its annual convention in Gatlinburg.
Dr. Snowden was selected for this honor from a distinguished group of eight Regional Superintendents of the Year, which included Dr. Jeanny Phillips (Oneida Special School District), East; Dr. Steve Barnett (Johnson City Schools), First; Dr. Norma Gerrell (Paris Special School District), Northwest; Dr. Joey Vaughn (Manchester City Schools), South Central; Mr. Robert Greene (Athens City Schools), Southeast; Dr. John Combs (Tipton County Schools), Southwest; Dr. Clint Satterfield (Trousdale County Schools), Upper Cumberland Tennessee; and Snowden, who represented the Mid-Cumberland region.
Growing up on a small farm in rural Mississippi, Dr. Snowden says that he learned “the value of hard work, perseverance, teamwork, and the importance of relationships.” He added, “I watched my parents model the importance of serving and giving back to your community. Both served in the local civic and church groups, and I observed how they provided home-grown vegetables from our garden each year to those around who were less fortunate. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were demonstrating what “servant” leadership was all about.” Dr. Snowden has carried these values into his long and successful career in education.
Dr. David Snowden began his post-secondary education in a small community college in Meridian, Mississippi. after graduating high school. He then transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi to focus on becoming a public school educator, majoring in History and Secondary Education. After graduation, he was hired as a junior high school teacher in Meridian Public Schools, where he taught during the day and took night classes at Mississippi State University to earn his Master’s in Education Administration degree. He then earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Education Leadership degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1990.
Dr. Snowden began his career in Mississippi. He spent eight years as a high school teacher, nine years as the assistant principal at Pascagoula High School in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and six years as the principal at Colmer Junior High School in Pascagoula, Mississippi. After completing his doctorate, he served as an assistant superintendent for six years before transitioning to the Superintendent of Schools for the Pascagoula School District. After his tenure in the Pascagoula School District, he accepted the position of Director of Schools in the Franklin Special School District in 2001.
As FSSD Director of Schools, Dr. Snowden has put an emphasis on community collaboration, transparency, high-quality educators and training, and student mental health. In 2018, under his leadership, FSSD created a partnership with Mercy Community Healthcare, where students have access to a mental health therapist each day. “This has been a significant support to students and their families as we all work together to meet the needs of the whole child and to do all we can to enhance their opportunity for success,” he said. In addition, Dr. Snowden and the FSSD implemented the FSSD Therapy Dog Program in 2019 as a pilot. The goal was to determine if the use of specifically trained canines could provide another strategy to help students who have anxiety and/or behavioral issues, cope with the stresses of school and to improve the overall school environment. The pilot program was a huge success, and now all FSSD schools have a therapy dog, experiencing overwhelming results from the addition of their canine friends.
Other community partnerships include The StoryBus and United Way Raise Your Hand (UYRYH). The StoryBus is a mobile library that travels the streets and parking lots of Franklin every summer as part of FSSD’s community outreach designed to foster a love for reading in children ages four through fourth grade. United Way Raise Your Hand (UWRYH) funds before and after-school tutors in reading and math and arranges for volunteers to assist licensed teachers in this work for the majority of each school year.
Dr. Snowden and his wife, Kathy, have three children and seven grandchildren with whom they enjoy spending time. In their free time, they also enjoy traveling, reading, and spending time on the water.
TOSS Executive Director, Dr. Dale Lynch stated, “Dr. Snowden is an exceptional leader and has proven that quality leadership can be long-lasting in school districts. His leadership has exemplified dedication, innovation, and a deep understanding of the multifaceted challenges and opportunities within modern education. His tireless efforts to enhance student outcomes, foster a culture of excellence, and create collaborative partnerships have not only benefited Franklin Special School District but have also inspired educators around the state. Dr. Snowden continues to serve in leadership roles across the state and has been a superintendent mentor for many school system leaders.”
Dr. Snowden will represent the state of Tennessee at the 2024 AASA National Conference on Education, which will be held in San Diego, California this February. TOSS also presented the George "Kip" Reel Award for Leadership in Education to Mr. John Aitken of AIMS, the Friend of TOSS Award to Mr. Bob Eby, Chairman of the Tennessee State Board of Education, and the TOSS Legislative Award to Tennessee Representative, Sam Whitson.
The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) is the leading advocate organization for public education in the state of Tennessee. Since 1975, TOSS has been progressing public education and addressing the needs of its administrators. TOSS provides advocacy at the state level for education issues that are high priorities for Tennessee schools, and is comprised of district leaders who are committed to lifelong learning, best practice sharing, and continuous improvement.
PHOTO (l-r): TOSS Executive Director Dr. Dale Lynch, Dr. David Snowden, and Tennessee Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds.