KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee school leaders are up for big awards that include Principal of the Year and Supervisor of the Year.
Four educators in East Tennessee are finalists. Sydney Upton from Sunnyview Primary School in East Knox County and Joseph Ely from Lincoln Heights Middle in Morristown are up for Principal of the Year. Maria Warren from Loudon County Schools and Amy Burchette from Newport City Schools are finalists for Supervisor of the Year.
WVLT News caught up with Sunnyview Primary's Principal Sydney Upton.
Upton addresses her students by name.
"What did you learn, Bryer?" asked Sydney Upton, who is the principal of Sunnyview Primary.
She said if the students know her name, she needs to know theirs.
Upton is going on her seventh year as principal of Sunnyview Primary. She's been involved in Knox County schools for over two decades.
"Through the first couple of weeks, I want to be in there to make sure they're doing okay and if I don't have anything that needs my immediate attention, I'll go in there," said Upton.
She said a bond like this will help kids stay engaged in the classroom.
Her process is working so far. She's one of nine finalists for Tennessee's Principal of the Year.
"I'm very honored and I'm still floating on cloud nine," said Upton.
Almost four years ago, Principal Upton went through a tragic time. Two students and one teacher's aide died in a bus accident. She's helped the school get through it, but not alone.
"The support, lots of support, a lot of staff, it's all about relationships and support," said Upton.
She stays positive after what she called the hardest thing she's ever been through as a principal.
Upton has an interview with Nashville on August 30th. The winners will be announced October 4th.