About Us » History


In 1996 a group of private citizens, working closely with the Greeneville City Board of Education and the Greeneville City School System administration, established the Greeneville City Schools Foundation as a 501(c)(3) organization. Over twenty members of the Greeneville community sit on the Board of Trustees, serving to guide the course of the organization.

The Greeneville City Schools (GCS) Education Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization, advocates for a strong system of public education and seeks to enhance educational opportunities for all students by serving as a clearinghouse for ideas, and a conduit for public support, which includes financial giving, volunteering, and celebrating teachers and students.


1996 – Mrs. Kathryn (Kay) W. Leonard, Greeneville City BOE Chair, and Dr. Ernest Martin, Director of Schools, spearheaded a movement to form a foundation whose focus would be to serve and support the continuance of the “Tradition of Excellence” in the Greeneville City Schools.  On September 16, 1996, a group of private citizens, working closely with the Greeneville Board of Education and the Greeneville City Schools administration, established the Greeneville City Schools Education Foundation as a 501(c)(3) organization, and elected a Board of Trustees*


1997 – The Education Foundation pledged $375k in support of the “Enterprise Network” and sought to secure financial contributions from the community. The organization began its tradition of sponsoring an Art Show in the fall, a Science Fair in the spring, an annual spelling bee, and a student mentoring program called “Partners for Kids.” A scholarship fund was established to benefit GHS graduates on a technical path.


1998 – A GHS Alumni Directory was printed and sold to interested parties in an effort to raise additional funds for the Education Foundation. The Greeneville Schools In Action (GSIA) began a multi-year fundraising effort selling Greene Cards and pledged a portion of the profits to help offset the expense of the “Enterprise Network.”


1999-2000 – The Education Foundation continued to explore various fundraising strategies and successfully supported the organization’s established programs.


2001 – The organization began its tradition of celebrating students for their exemplary character virtues. The Annual Character Education Awards Luncheon honors 2 students from each school for their outstanding character virtues. The Education Foundation fosters the practice of community reinvestment by providing $50 donations to a charity of each student’s choice in their honor. * In 2014 the Character Education Awards transitioned into a public recognition of the winners displayed on a prominent billboard during the month of May. 


2002 – The Education Foundation established the American Education Week Grant program.  Over the years, this grant initiative (now called the SEED Grant) has introduced over $90k into the Greeneville City School System to help fund classroom materials or curriculum, enhancing programs researched or designed by its teachers.  


2004 – The organization adopted a motion by Dr. Don Henard to offer primary support of locating the State Department of Education Professional Development Center (PDC) in Greeneville. With staffing support provided by GCS, and a facility provided by the Niswonger Foundation, Greeneville became the site for the PDC.


2006 – The Education Foundation raised an additional $145k to update the GCS Instructional Learning Software and expand the school system’s information technology program.  The first annual Daddy & Daughter Dance, co-sponsored by the Education Foundation and the GSIA, took place in the GHS Commons with nearly 300 in attendance.  The event has doubled in size and is considered to be a family tradition for daddies and daughters.  The Education Foundation began an annual co-sponsorship with the Niswonger Foundation to support the system-wide Cherokee Day event.


2007 – In honor of her memory, the family of Kay Leonard donated the building at 129 W. Depot Street to the Education Foundation.  Today, the Kathryn W. Leonard Administrative Office Building is home to the GCS administration, Professional Development Center, and the GCS Education Foundation.


2008 – The organization adopted the Burley Stadium Artificial Turf project.  Mr. Scott M. Niswonger stepped forward as the project’s lead benefactor and provided for the renovation of GHS’s Burley Stadium in addition to the installation of its artificial playing surface.


2009 – The Education Foundation launched the FOCUS Grant program, funding small programs for classrooms that provide a big impact.  To date, this grant initiative has funded over $37k of innovative ideas that enhance the students’ classroom learning.


2010 – In an effort to help satisfy a growing need for public school advocates in our community, the Education Foundation provided advocacy training for its Board of Trustees.  The Board of Trustees participated in a strategic planning session that resulted in its current mission and beliefs statements.


2012 – The Education Foundation identified a need for an expanded presence in the community and hired a full-time executive director to facilitate that effort. The organization adopted its tagline – “Beyond The Basics”, and rebranded with its current logo, designed by graphic design artist, Ben Clark (GHS Class of 2009).  The organization opened an office in the Kathryn W. Leonard Administrative Offices building at 129 W. Depot Street in Greeneville. 


2013 – In September, the organization launched Reach4IT – a $750k initiative aimed at providing computer devices (electronic notebooks, laptops, etc.) for student use in GCS classrooms.  Thanks to a generous response from local businesses and industries and our community members, Reach4IT completed 100% of pledges within 18 months.  To date, over $750,000 has been allocated toward the purchase of student devices. 


2015- In February, the beloved Daddy & Daughter Dance celebrated its 10th Anniversary with over 750 participants in attendance at Greeneville High School.  On Thanksgiving morning, the Education Foundation hosted the Inaugural 5K Turkey Trot with over 350 participants. 


2016- The Reach4IT campaign helps complete the GCS Digital Transformation and provide all students in grades 2-12 a laptop to use in the classroom.


2018- GCSEF began to support the “Over 30 Club” at GHS, a public recognition of students scoring over 30 on the ACT.


2019- GCSEF began public recognition of exceptional GreeneTech graduates. GCSEF began providing funding for back to school retreats.


2021- The GCSEF 5K Turkey Trot hosted over 600 participants on Thanksgiving morning. GCSEF partners with GCS and GHS to apply for the Dell Student TechCrew Grant.


2022- GCSEF implements the Caroline Russell Memorial Scholarship and the Jim Winfree Joy of Music Scholarship for GHS seniors. GCSEF initiates the 2030 Report: Looking Ahead to Improve Education in Greeneville. This visioning committee interviewed over 250 members of the GCS community to seek input from public education stakeholders.


*Charter Board of Trustees of the Greeneville City Schools Education Foundation:

Kathryn (Kay) W. Leonard                     Dr. Ernest Martin

Kay Puckett             Brandon Hull          Bob Keasling           Ray Adams

Stan Puckett            Pam Moore             Nikki Niswonger    Steve Hendrickson

Teresa Estepp          Mike Roberts          Gayle Greene          Nat R. Coleman, Jr.


Greeneville City Schools Education Foundation celebrated 20 years of going "beyond the basics" for GCS in 2016.  Read the commemorative article provided  by the Greeneville Sun!