Wrapping Up One Mission & Beginning the Next
A retired teacher once said, “Teaching and leading is much more than just a job, it is a mission.” Mrs. Tracie Bottoms has made it her mission to encourage and nurture students at Lancaster Elementary for the past sixteen years. After nearly two decades of leading one of Garrard County’s elementary schools, Mrs. Tracie Bottoms has announced her retirement.
Originally hired as a secondary English teacher in 1994 at Boyle County High School, Mrs. Bottoms began her career doing what she has always loved - interacting with and serving students. When asked about her upcoming retirement, Mrs. Bottoms said, “I will miss the students most of all. These students are the number one reason why I never wanted to move and take another job. I love Lancaster Elementary School and each and every student that has come through our doors.”
When reflecting on her career, Mrs. Bottoms recalled the first leadership opportunity she was given. The opportunity was presented by a former superintendent, Ms. Pam Rogers. Mrs. Bottoms was charged with the task of creating a group of teacher leaders to mentor the new to district teachers. In this new role Mrs. Bottoms truly found a love and passion for leadership. When asked about her time in this mentoring role, she said, “I loved helping teachers become acquainted with their new environment and curriculum. It was also encouraging to see that my Superintendent saw leadership potential in me.”
Mrs. Bottoms’ tenure at Lancaster Elementary provided staff members with a supportive environment to develop and master their teaching craft - similar to what she provided during that very first leadership role. Mrs. Bottoms says, “My entire staff, certified and classified, is solid and one great group of people. We are a true school family.” Lancaster Elementary School is so much more than bricks and mortar, it is the people within those walls that make a difference- and those people have truly been influenced by Mrs. Bottoms’ leadership. Veteran staff member, Mrs. Sharon Hurt said, “To say Mrs. Bottoms is loved by her staff and students is an understatement. She has nurtured a loving, caring, and supportive atmosphere within our school, and we know she will always be a Leopard at heart. We will miss her greatly, but we wish her happiness in her retirement.”
This may be the end of Mrs. Bottoms’ mission at Lancaster Elementary School, but with every ending, there is a new beginning. When asked about her upcoming retirement adventure, Mrs. Bottoms discussed spending time in Ecuador completing projects with her husband, Ronnie Bottoms, and the group Kids Around the World. This specific group refurbishes used playground equipment and installs the equipment in countries to develop communities focused around kids. With Mrs. Bottoms’ student-centered mindset, it is no surprise she will surround herself with kids in the coming years. Superintendent Kevin Stull said, “Mrs. Bottoms’ impact on Garrard County students will continue to be felt for years to come. It only makes sense that she will step from one role of supporting children into another role of supporting children. We will miss her when she retires, but we wish her and her family nothing but the best.”
A New Beginning for Lancaster Elementary School
Following the announcement of Principal Bottoms’ retirement, Garrard County Schools made the decision to name an interim principal for the remaining half of the school year. As of October 28th, 2022, Mrs. Dana Blankenship has been named the interim Principal for Lancaster Elementary School. Mrs. Blankenship was designated a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals in 2017. At that time, she was the principal at Peaks Mill’s Elementary School in Franklin County. Prior to that she was the Principal at Botts Elementary in Menifee County.
Mrs. Blankenship has a strong passion for students, and holds the belief that all students can learn and be successful - which is a philosophy that will mesh with the LES staff’s commitment to see all of their students be at or above grade level. In the coming weeks, Mrs. Blankenship will visit Lancaster Elementary School to become acquainted with staff and students before entering her new role.
Mrs. Dana Blankenship, Interim Principal of Lancaster Elementary School.