Born in Tennessee, Amanda Lance was raised in Houston, Texas. She eventually made her way back to the area and is currently the principal at Coalmont Elementary School.
“My parents, Bonnie Faye Cook and Billy Joe Cantrell, moved back to Tennessee, Warren County, in the summer of 1987. I have one sister, Melissa Cantrell Yates.
“I attend my elementary and junior high years in Houston, where I was very active in sports: soccer, softball, track, basketball, volleyball, and football. I played softball, basketball, track, and volleyball when I moved to Warren County. I graduated from Warren County in 1992.
“I continue to be an avid reader. My favorite places as a child, other than on the court and field, was the library or bookstore. I love knowledge. I love learning something new or becoming better at something, I already enjoy doing and knowing. My husband says that if we could afford it that I would be a personal student earning every degree I could get my hands on,” says Amanda.
Amanda attended Motlow and earned her Associates of Science Degree in Education with a minor in Computer Science. She continued her education at the University of Tennessee, earning a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education Comprehensive and Modified K-12, and her Master’s Degree in Instructional Leadership.
How did she choose education?
“In 1992, my oldest daughter, Devan, was born with a medical condition that was very progressive in deteriorating her muscles and tissues, CMV. I contracted the virus during my pregnancy when the child I was babysitting had a severe case of Mono. I found out that she was going to be born with severe medical conditions when I was four months pregnant, thus the beginning of our journey.
“We did not know the name of her medical condition or the severity until she was born. Vanderbilt was still in the research stage of CMV and antibodies to block or limit the severity of the progressed disease in 1992. The research study only allowed one child to receive the trial research medication. On the day Devan was born, another child was born with a very mild form of CMV. Due to that factor, the two families had to flip a coin on to see which child would receive the medication and the other the placebo.
“My husband, David, was the one chosen to call head or tails. He called heads and the coin landed on tails. The next two years we would watch the vast changes in both children – one thriving and the other deteriorating.
“During those two years, I started my college education to help me become a better mom and able to take care of my daughter better. It was not until she later passed away that I decided to get my certification in teaching, Sensory Integration Techniques, Visual Stimulation and Environmental Supports, Fine and Gross Motor.”
Amanda came to CES with a vast amount of experience and knowledge. She has taught special education in Warren, White, and Knox counties, also serving as a TAP mentor teacher and evaluator. She was the Principal at Grundy County High School before taking the reins at CES.
CES TCAP scores from the 2014-2015 school year saw a big improvement; the school saw the largest gains in all areas tested in the county. Amanda says success at the school is a team effort.
“We have focused on goal setting and Professional Learning Communities (PLC) throughout the school year to bring awareness of collaboration. Each team, teacher, and student was aware of his or her own data and created goals on how to grow in content areas
“We celebrated all of our successes great or small. We dug deep into our data; data drove our daily instruction, and data was discussed and displayed throughout the school. Establishing smart goals, having our students aware of the goal they are working to reach, and recognition for growing and improving was important.
“Along with goal setting and celebrating success, we did a better job communicating what we were doing and why we were doing it in school to families and community. We tried to create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere to help make lasting school memories with our celebrations and events. Both teachers and students worked hard to contribute to Coalmont’s success!”
What is planned for this year?
“I am excited about continuing our Fall Festival, movie nights, and utilizing our outdoor classroom, butterfly garden, and walking trial. We would like to see more parent and community involvement volunteering throughout the school day and year.
“We have a full time Instructional Coach on-site to help with our county-wide reading Initiative program. We are looking forward to more community sponsorships to help us celebrate success in academics, attendance, and behavior.”
Amanda is married to David Lance, Jail Administrator for the Grundy County Jail. They have been married 25 years and have five children: Devan (deceased), Adrienne (23), Jeremiah (20), Paige (18), and Hunter (15), along with foster children through the years.
“I am a proud parent of a U.S. Marine. Jeremiah is proudly serving our Lord, family, and country. He is currently deployed.
“Paige is attending her first year of college at Motlow and helps coach WCHS girl’s rugby. Hunter is a sophomore at Warren County High School and plays football for WCHS Pioneers.
“I am family oriented and I am a Christian. My husband and I Pastor Lighthouse Bible Church in Viola.
“I could not go one minute without my Lord and Savior. He is the reason I am the person I am today. The strength and fellowship I gather from my church family is vital and needed. My church is my family.”
Amanda loves helping children.
“I love children, helping others and bringing a smile to someone’s face. I have lots of energy and I am very passionate about education and life. I like thinking outside of the box and a challenge. I believe that learning can be enjoyable and fun. There is nothing like getting a hug and a smile from a child. I couldn’t imagine doing thing else.
“I love watching them grow, learn, and create new things. I love hearing them read and watching their excitement when they achieved a task.
“I believe that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. I believe that we should educate and teach our students like we would want our own children/grandchildren/family members to be educated and taught.
“Being an educator is a calling. It is one of life’s greatest blessings. Shaping lives is my Mission Field.”
Who has influenced and inspired Amanda through the years?
“My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, my husband, David, along with my own children have been my greatest influence and support – seeing how with prayers, love, encouragement, and support you can endure and overcome most of life’s obstacles. My motto is to leave no one behind and look for the best in everyone and everything.
“What would surprise people about me? I love the smell of skunks. When I drive to school in the morning and I smell the mild scent of a skunk in the air, I take a deep breath and immediately a smile comes across my face. I know it is crazy.”