Parents will see a new face this year at Lynchburg Elementary. Thomas Fuhrman replaced Buddy Smith as the LES Principal. Principal Smith now holds the top spot at Moore County High School. The News recently caught up with Principal Fuhrman for a brief interview.
MCN: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Just a brief bio.
Principal Fuhrman: My name is Thomas Fuhrman. I am married to a lovely woman named Sarah, and we are blessed with one daughter Samantha who will be entering the fourth grade this year. Prior to moving to this area, I lived in Oak Ridge, where I taught high school English for the last five years. I previously held positions as a high school English teacher at Lewis County High School and as a mentor and tutor to kindergarten through fourth-grade students with Americorps in Putnam County.
MCN: How did you come to take the position at LES? How did you learn about it?
PF: Over the past two years, my wife, daughter, and I have been ministering to refugees in Clarkston, Georgia, in a ministry that came as the result of stepping out in faith to serve where I felt that the Lord was leading to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people who were displaced from their native countries. Over the past year, I prayed to God about how he might use me to have a greater impact for Him. I continued to travel with my family monthly to Clarkston and became more active in children’s ministry in my church. Then, quite recently, I listened to a missionary explain his motivation for ministry, found in the book of Matthew. He quoted “… Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). I then set out to seek an opportunity to minister to younger children than I had been teaching in high school, seeking their needs and serving God humbly and obediently in helping to find His provision for them. I had no idea how soon God would present such an opportunity.
Early in May, I was looking through my Twitter account and noticed that a person whom I followed (Director of Schools Chad Moorehead) had announced a position was available for an elementary school principal. I brought this announcement to the attention of my wife, and we began to pray about whether this was something to consider. Because I had previously taught in a school where Mr. Moorehead had been an administrator and knew firsthand his integrity in that position, I decided once again to step out in faith to apply for a position for which I had no direct experience, either as a full-time elementary school educator or as a principal. When I inquired about the position, I was informed that the principal selection process was one that, though it might be somewhat intimidating, would involve a selection committee composed of teacher representatives at each grade level in the elementary school. I felt that if such a committee would select me, God would have to orchestrate the details. After interviewing with the committee, I was elated to be offered the position. I am looking forward to a great year serving Moore County Schools as Lynchburg Elementary School’s principal.
I am thankful to God, who has blessed my family and me with such an opportunity, and I am thankful to Moore County Schools for extending this opportunity to me.
MCN: You’re following in the shoes of a principal who maintained a strict policy on bullying. What are your thoughts on the subject?
PF: If the question is whether bullying will be tolerated, the answer is most definitely “no.” Our entire school will be implementing use of “School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports” (SWPBS) this year, by which positive behaviors are reinforced, negative behaviors are reduced, and discipline is consistently administered to address negative behaviors. Bullying is in direct contrast with the expectations of this program, which includes among its chief components “respect” and “responsibility.” We all have a responsibility to treat one another respectfully, and those who do not comply with this expectation will find very clearly that such behavior is not tolerated and will face disciplinary action.
MCN: When did you take the position? And what have you been doing over the summer to prepare for the first day of school?
PF: I began my position on July 2, but I began preparing for the position as soon as I accepted it in June, partially by continuing to teach Summer Recovery for Oak Ridge Schools and by doing a great deal of research on the issues affecting Tennessee’s elementary schools.
In preparation for the first day of school, I have continued to pray for the children in this community and for the teachers and staff in our school. I have also prayed for the parents of children in this community and for my own family as we become new members of this community.
In addition, I have attended workshops on Tennessee Common Core Focus Standards and NIET TEAM evaluation framework for Tennessee. I have been working diligently with teachers and staff at Lynchburg Elementary with our new PBSI initiative and collaborating to address Common Core standards across the curriculum.
MCN: I see you volunteered at First Baptist Church in Hohenwald. Director of Schools Chad Moorehead lived in Hohenwald before returning to Moore County. Did you two know each other there?
PF: I did know Mr. Moorehead in Hohenwald. He was the assistant principal during my first year teaching at Lewis County High School and principal for the following three years. I completed my administrative internship with Mr. Moorehead as my supervisor.
I was compelled to apply for the principal position because of the respect that I had for Mr. Moorehead as an administrator and because of the process by which a candidate would be selected for the position, which considers a panel of Lynchburg Elementary School teachers’ input paramount and gives them authority in choosing their principal.
MCN: I see from your resume that you have a long history of involvement in student organizations. Do you plan to start any clubs or organizations for teachers or students at LES?
PF: Though I do not intend to start any new clubs at LES in the near future, I will continue to encourage our student council to be very active in the school and encourage others to start clubs and organizations that will positively impact our students. From what I understand, the Boy Scouts are also already very actively involved on our campus, and I hope to see this organization’s activity continue in partnership with LES. I was pleased most recently to see clubs that I sponsored grow with great success, and I would love to see Youth for Christ and disc sports clubs here in Lynchburg as well, at some point.