Tennessee Schools for the Deaf

Tennessee School for the Deaf Announces Finalists & Finalist Schedule

The Tennessee School for the Deaf (TSD) Superintendent Search Committee recommended three finalists to Josh Mason, Assistant Commissioner of State Special Schools at Tennessee Department of Education who supported the recommendation.

The TSD Finalists are:

Dr. Sandra G. Edwards

Headshot of Sandra Edwards

Dr. Edwards currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Deaf Education program at the University of Montevallo. She 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 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.

Dr. Edwards served in a variety of school leadership positions including Superintendent, Principal, and Director of Instruction in a state school setting. Dr. Edwards served on the national front, most recently as Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools for the Deaf (CEASD) President Elect and President from 2014-2018. 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. 


Dr. Martin P. Keller

Martin Keller headshotDr. Martin P. Keller, Jr. is a seasoned educator and administrator having worked in a vast array of roles in the field of Deaf Education for more than 22 years, including 11 years as a principal and two (2)  years as a superintendent of a state residential school. As a visionary transformational change agent and innovator, Martin consistently focuses his energy on improving academic success and building positive relationships with all students and stakeholders.  He strongly believes in social-emotional, anti-racism, anti-bias, and social justice education and has a “student-first” mentality.

Martin was born profoundly Deaf into an all-Deaf family of 10 in Chicago and attended a residential school for the deaf for the first 6 years of his education.  He holds a doctorate in Deaf Education from Lamar University; an Educational Specialist degree in Change Leadership program from Gallaudet University; a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Xavier University; a Master’s degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College; and a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  In his spare time, Martin enjoys cooking, hiking, Cross-fitting, traveling, and being involved in non-profit organizations, such as the GBC-Zambia Foundation and the national Poor People’s Campaign.  He is also a proud father of a two-month old Deaf daughter. 


Dawniela Patterson

Dawniela Patterson headshot

Dawniela Patterson is in her fifth year as the Assistant Superintendent/Principal at the Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia Campus. Under her leadership, its student enrollment has increased every year. Additionally, she has over 15 years of experience in educational leadership in various teaching and administrator roles focusing on high academic standards. Patterson believes that all students can become contributing citizens by developing and nurturing a school culture that promotes equity, inclusion, accessibility, and student engagement with empathy, as well as academic rigor.

At the Columbia Campus, she collaborated with department heads in school planning and administration, regularly communicated with the stakeholders, formed a curriculum team that relied on data-informed academic decisions, created a school culture of shared responsibility for learning, and led the ASL-English Framework and Action Plan committees. She has presented at national and international conferences on language planning and bilingual methodology. Patterson holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Indiana University and an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education with concentration in Intervention Specialist from Otterbein University in Ohio. She is certified in School Administration, Early Childhood Education, Elementary, and Mild Intervention as well as  residential program administration.


Tennessee School for the Deaf Finalist Visit & Interview

The Tennessee School for the Deaf Finalists will visit the Knoxville campus from July 12-14, 2021 with each candidate following the same daily schedule. The portions of the campus visit that are open to the public include the following:


Finalist Interview Dates

  • Monday, July 12: Sandra Edwards
  • Tuesday, July 13: Martin Keller
  • Wednesday, July 14: Dawniela Patterson

Finalist presentation and search committee interview

Streamed live on the TSD Facebook Page (link)
3:00 to 5:00 pm EDT / 2:00 – 4:00 pm CDT

Meet & Greet with the Finalist (Staff & Community)

TSDN & WTSD – Zoom

Tennessee School for the Deaf Knoxville campus
5:30 – 6:30 pm EDT / 4:30 – 5:30 pm CDT
(*Zoom Registration Required)

Tennessee School for the Deaf Knoxville

Alan J. Mealka High School (Outside)
6:15 – 7:30 pm EDT / 5:15 – 6:30 pm CDT

After each public finalist activity, the community will be given the opportunity to provide their input through an online feedback survey that will be shared during the event. If you have requests for accommodations or other questions about participating in the virtual, live-stream event or in-person campus meet and greet, please contact [email protected].


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. 


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