This school year will be Kimber Halliburton’s first as principal of Holy Rosary Academy. But it’s definitely not her first rodeo, so to speak.
Halliburton, an experienced educator and school administrator, has served as principal of four Metro Nashville Public Schools, and as superintendent of two small school districts, one in Tennessee and the other in Mississippi.
When Halliburton learned about the principal position at Holy Rosary, she decided to come out of retirement and take on another new role. “I said, ‘Sounds great, I’d love to be back in school.’”
Taking the helm at Holy Rosary will be a homecoming of sorts for Halliburton, a parishioner at St. Matthew Church in Franklin who grew up in the Donelson neighborhood, where she graduated from McGavock High School. “This is my old stomping grounds,” she said.
The main thoroughfare of Donelson, Lebanon Pike, runs up to Hermitage, Old Hickory, Mt. Juliet and beyond. The road “has so many churches on it,” Halliburton said. “It’s a really big faith-based community here. … It’s exciting to be back.”
Halliburton began her career as a special education teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools at J.E. Moss Elementary School in 1988. While serving as a Metro teacher, she taught in both general and special education classroom settings.
She left MNPS for an opportunity to teach in her home parish at the time, St. Henry, where her children attended school. She taught fourth grade at St. Henry School for nearly six years.
In 2000, Halliburton returned to MNPS, and served as the lead principal of four different schools over the years: Lockeland Elementary in East Nashville, Bellevue Middle School, Harpeth Valley Elementary School, and Waverly Belmont Elementary School.
Two of those, Lockeland and Waverly Belmont, she helped launch from the ground up. Lockeland, where Halliburton’s daughter now teaches, was named a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School.
Before retiring and returning to her children and family in Nashville, Halliburton served as a superintendent of schools in Tennessee and Mississippi.
Under her leadership, the Washington County School System received the highest possible ranking from the Tennessee Department of Education. While she was serving as the superintendent in Madison, Mississippi, the district went from ranking 15th to fourth for overall academic performance on state assessments.
Halliburton earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s in educational leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University. She is currently working on her doctorate degree in leadership and professional practice at Trevecca and is scheduled to complete her dissertation in June 2021.
With a boatload of professional experience and credentials under her belt, Halliburton still says one of her most important qualifications for the job at Holy Rosary is her role as a mom.
“I’ve raised three children,” she said. “I know parents are doing the best they know how, and I want to support them. … I want to help parents navigate the world they’re raising their children in.”
Right now, Halliburton faces the challenge of keeping her Holy Rosary faculty and students safe, healthy and engaged in school. “We’ve put every measure we can humanly put in place to have the safest start to school,” she said.
With open enrollment in place, Holy Rosary is still accepting new students, and receiving a lot of interest from public school families who are ready for in-person learning and not satisfied with the virtual experience. “Kids need socialization for their emotional and physical health,” Halliburton said.
Like other Catholic school principals in the Diocese of Nashville, Halliburton is busy spreading the word about her school and making sure families of all faiths know they are welcome, and that a Catholic education can be affordable.
“Enrollment is a challenge,” she said. But this moment “is a grand opportunity” for Catholic schools, she added.
“I’m very excited about the return to school.”
For more information about Holy Rosary Academy, visit https://www.holyrosary.edu/