Dr. Sandra Edwards Selected as the New Tennessee Schools for the Deaf Superintendent


JULY 30, 2021

Dr. Sandra Edwards has been selected as the next Superintendent of Tennessee Schools for the Deaf  (TSD). 

Headshot of Sandra Edwards
Dr. Sandra Edwards, the next Superintendent of Tennessee Schools for the Deaf

The search for the next TSD Superintendent began in early March 2021 which produced three finalists, and they were evaluated by a search committee of teachers, staff, parents, community members, and alumni with representation from all three TSD campuses (Knoxville, Nashville, and Jackson). Dr. Josh Mason, Assistant Commissioner of State Special Schools at the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), accepted the search committee’s unanimous recommendation of Dr. Sandra Edwards as the next Superintendent of TSD on Monday, July 19, 2021.

In Dr. Edwards’ finalist presentation, she shared her vision for building on TSD’s bilingual approach to education, her value-added leadership style, and her commitment to cultivating Deaf leadership. She also expressed her dedication to each of TSD’s three campuses and ensuring that students, families, and staff thrive at each.


“A tremendous wealth of experience”

Dr. Josh Mason, Assistant Commissioner of State Special Schools at the Tennessee Department of Education, said, “After an intensive, months-long collaborative process, we are thrilled to announce that we have accepted the search committee’s recommendation. Dr. Edwards brings a tremendous wealth of experience in Deaf Education leadership and bilingual education. Dr. Edwards is the right person to make TSD into the leading institution for Deaf Education and bilingual education.”

Dr. Edwards has served in the field of Deaf Education since 1988, where she began as a classroom teacher. This classroom experience was used in the development of a reading program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, which is utilized as a tool in reading comprehension in school programs across the country and abroad. She has since served in a variety of school leadership positions including Superintendent, Principal, and Director of Instruction in a state school setting. Dr. Edwards most recently held the position of President Elect and President of the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools for the Deaf (CEASD) from 2014-2018.

Dr. Edwards obtained her doctorate degree in Deaf Education and Deaf Studies in 2012, her master’s degree in School Leadership in 2005, and her Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education in 1987. She credits her introduction to Deaf education to her Deaf father and the Deaf community who taught her about Deaf people, ASL, and Deaf Culture. She credits her growth as an educator and leader to the many Deaf students who she has taught and guided. 

“I truly appreciate the trust that the TSD community has put in me, in selecting me as your next Superintendent. My vision for TSD is to create an environment which supports all TSD campuses in the empowerment of students, families and stakeholders through an educational program of excellence. This will also impact self and institutional advocacy and the building of a strong community. Increasing academic rigor and student outcomes through bilingual programming will be a primary focus. I look forward to working closely with students, staff and families from all three outstanding campuses to bring this vision to reality,” said Dr. Edwards.

Data and community

Guided by Deaf-owned and led organizational and leadership development company, Innivee Strategies, Inc., and in partnership with the TSD Superintendent search committee, the five-month process and the final recommendation was informed by significant data collected from and participation by community members and TSD stakeholders. This included six focus groups and a stakeholder survey with nearly 100 respondents. This information guided the development of the leadership prospectus (https://tinyurl.com/TSDprospectus) and screening/interview questions. Community members were also given an opportunity to provide feedback on the finalist presentation and interview which was live streamed on Facebook and Zoom. Afterward the community was able to meet each of the finalists through “meet & greets”.

Innivee Strategies CEO, Shane Feldman, said, “Innivee Strategies aims to ensure that leaders and organizations are strengthened through data-driven processes and community engagement. We thank the Tennessee Department of Education and Dr. Josh Mason for entrusting our company with supporting and facilitating the TSD Superintendent search process and for his support of the search committee leading its independent determination for its recommendation. We look forward to learning about TSD’s progress in the future with Dr. Edwards at the helm.”

Dr. Edwards is expected to begin her role in August 2021. The Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Schools for the Deaf, and Innivee Strategies, Inc. share their appreciation for those who participated in the search process, including TSD staff, in particular from the marketing, communication, technology, HR and other departments, as well as the volunteers who dedicated their time to serving on the interviews with the TSD Superintendent search committee. We also wish to express our gratitude to the individuals who applied for the TSD Superintendent role and to the TSD community for showing their support for the school and its bright future. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Josh Mason, Assistant Commissioner of State Special Schools at the Tennessee Department of Education, at Josh.Mason@tn.gov.


About Tennessee School for the Deaf

Tennessee Schools for the Deaf (TSD) is comprised of three campuses: Knoxville (main campus), Nashville, and Jackson. Established in 1844 in Knoxville, TSD has now been serving deaf and hard of hearing children in the state of Tennessee for over 175 years. TSD has a rich history in educating deaf and hard of hearing children and has developed a strong reputation for serving parents and local education agencies across the state of Tennessee. Please visit the TSD website – www.tsdeaf.org to learn more about our school and programs. 

About Innivee Strategies, Inc.

Innivee Strategies, Inc. provides organizations with systemic frameworks that enable them to build a strong strategic direction toward their desired vision. We engage leaders and stakeholders in collaborating together to choose the best governance model, set leadership, staff, and volunteer expectations, align and optimize resources, and manage change. Innivee Strategies is a leading search firm in the recruitment and placement of executives and leaders of organizations that serve the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Our services also include Effective Governance, Organizational Assessment, Strategic Planning, Change Management, Executive Support Systems, Leadership Development, and Guided Facilitation. Please visit www.innivee.com to learn about our clients and their testimonies about how our services have benefited their organizations.