Trevecca alumna named Tennessee Principal of the Year, gains attention of Bill Gates

As the 2019 Tennessee Principal of the Year, Dr. LeAndrea Ware (’18) is used to social media attention.

But a few weeks ago, Ware, the executive principal of The Howard School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, received a bit of unexpected attention from Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

“Dr. LeAndrea Ware is one of the most energetic school leaders I’ve ever met,” Gates tweeted on November 25. “Her positivity is infectious. It’s no wonder she was recently named the Tennessee principal of the year.”

Gates’ tweet included a video about Ware and her work at The Howard School before linking to an article on the Gates Foundation blog.

Ware, who graduated from Trevecca in 2018 with her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in leadership and professional practice, was named Tennessee Principal of the Year early last month. The educator was honored by the recognition, but says the real reward is making a difference in students’ lives.

“We have high expectations at The Howard School,” Ware said. “We believe that anything that you’re going to do should be done at the highest level. The work we do here every day—we do it whether there’s an award or not. The reward for us is being able to positively impact the life of a child.”

An alumnus of The Howard School herself, Ware is deeply connected to the Hamilton County, Tennessee, school and community.

“This has been a position that is truly near and dear to my heart,” Ware said. “As a student, I was able to sit in some of the very same classrooms, walk the same hallways, be the drum major of The Howard Marching 100 band, captain of the cheerleaders … I’ve got roots here at The Howard School. Earning my doctorate through Trevecca allowed me to be well-prepared with the credentials necessary to give back to my community.”

While recent weeks have been marked with accolades and awards, Ware’s work isn’t always easy or simple. The area is undergoing a “demographic shift,” Ware says. That shift has led to a rapidly growing student body, more than doubling in size in recent years. Growing absenteeism and finding ways to engage non-English speaking students have required planning and thoughtful solutions.

Ware and The Howard School faculty also want to ensure graduates are well-prepared for the future, whether that means college or career.

“At The Howard School, we believe there are multiple pathways to success,” Ware said. “We’ve really started to be intentional in our focus around college or career.”

L to R: Mardee Miller, Bill Gates and Dr. Le Andrea Ware (’18)

Under Ware’s leadership, the school has created four Future Ready Institutes, learning academies within the school that are focused on health care and innovation, hospitality and tourism, architecture and construction and robotics and mechanics. The institutes are designed to challenge students with what Ware describes as “project-based learning,” giving students the chance to apply what they’ve learned through partnerships with local companies and industries.

“For example, with our health care and innovation institute, we are branded partners with Erlanger Hospital, one of the larger hospitals in the region,” Ware said. “We’re hoping to create a pipeline where when our kids graduate from The Howard School, they have the credentials to be a certified medical technician or EKG technician, positions they really haven’t had access to in the past.”

While Ware is only in her second year as principal, she’s excited about the future and her opportunity to continue to invest in the lives of her students and their families.

“For a lot of our students, we have to believe in them before they will believe in themselves,” Ware said. “When we can put opportunities in front of our students—such as the ones we now have available—we can see them begin to actually take on the persona and grow in confidence. We watch them begin to pursue opportunities they wouldn’t have thought possible otherwise.”

You’ll be able to read more about Ware in Trevecca’s upcoming President’s Report, expected to release in mid-January.

Learn more about Trevecca’s Ed.D. program, offered on campus and entirely online, at

Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695