Cleveland businesswoman Patricia Sluder is the new president of Tennessee Christian Preparatory School’s board of trustees, succeeding longtime board president Brad Benton.
The announcement was made during TCPS’ 12th Annual Presidential Celebration Banquet held Friday at First Baptist Church of Cleveland.
In addition, Tiffany Mitchell and Drew Presswood were honored with the Fourth Person Award and Reba Terry was recognized for the Sprit of Excellence Award.
Outgoing board president Brad Benton was awarded the first-ever Brad H. Benton Business Leadership Award.
Sluder and her husband, Marty Sluder, are both retired from Olin Corporation and opened Honeybaked Ham in Cleveland and in early 2014.
She was appointed to serve on the Franchise Advisory Council in 2016 and continues as one of six members of this group that advises Honeybaked leadership on policies, marketing, Brand growth and store operations for more than 200 franchise owners.
Sluder is a lifetime member of Friends of the Library Association for the Cleveland Public Library.
She and Marty are two of the 14 founding members of The Church at Grace Point.
They are grandparents of their son Craig and his wife, Lindsay’s four children.
Sluder has an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Tennessee Wesleyan University, and a master of science degree in psychology from The University of Tennessee.
She was appointed to the TCPS board of trustees in January 2017, where she most recently served as board secretary.
During her remarks Friday night, Sluder said it was an honor to serve on the TCPS board and stressed the importance of the school’s impact on the community.
“Cleveland and Bradley County need Tennessee Christian Preparatory School. Our community deserves this great school,” Sluder said.
She compared the school’s mission to maintaining a well for future generations.
“All of us had parents and grandparents that covered us in prayer – they were digging the well for us and for future generations. It is important that we do the same thing,” Sluder said. “That we keep digging wells for those generations that will come long after we are gone. Brad has often said that our work at Tennessee Christian Preparatory School is kingdom work and it is. Cleveland and Bradley County need Tennessee Christian Preparatory School. Our community deserves this great school. Drinking pure water from a cleaned out well gives us the conviction, the commitment and the energy to accomplish great things.”
Before awarding the Fourth Person Award to Mitchell and Presswood, Sluder said “the purpose of the Fourth Person Award is to honor a volunteer at the annual Presidential Celebration, a volunteer who serves the school family and excels in providing support, encouragement and accomplishment.”
Sluder said the award was established in 2012 in honor of Melanie Hope Stout, “whose dedicated support as a volunteer has inspired, blessed, and unleashed the Administration to fulfill the vision and mission of Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.”
The recipients of the award were chosen by TCPS faculty and administration.
Sluder said Mitchell and Preswood have made “countless contributions through many years of their involvement at our school: FTO fundraising and activities, organization of the Hawk Dash, showing up for cleanup days to prune, scrub and paint, participating as a homeroom mom, huge contributions in labor, equipment and money for our annual Fall Festival, including all of our lighting, planting a vegetable garden so our students can learn the joy of watching seeds grow into plants and flowers and food, refinishing and repairing the entire floor in our gym, and they even set up a chicken coop with real chickens for our elementary students.”
Reba Terry was then awarded the Spirit of Service Award.
Sluder said several criteria were used in the selection of the recipient of the award, including a commitment to the “Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
Terry has “over an extended period of time, displayed service to our community through participation on various community boards and committees and has participated in community service projects,” Sluder said.
“She has made a positive contribution to the economic and social health of the community through involvement in the social, business, religious or educational segments of the community,” Sluder said.
The decision to award Terry was made by the TCPS board.
Sluder said Terry has also served “as a medical social worker at Bradley Dialysis Clinic, a psychiatric social worker at Parkridge Valley Hospital in Chattanooga and a case manager social worker at Nancy’s House in Cleveland.”
In addition, Sluder said Terry is the “founder of The Caring Place, a nonprofit organization that provides food, clothing, counseling and help with other needs for disadvantaged families in Cleveland.”
“As former executive director of The Caring Place, she started a Sac Pac program in 2012 to fight against child hunger, which is currently operating in 15 schools in Bradley County,” Sluder said. “During her tenure as executive director, meals were provided through The Caring Place for almost 500,000 people. She was Executive Director of The Caring Place from 2005 to 2015.”
Sluder said Terry received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Lee University.
“In April of 2017, she began as Executive Director of ATS (Awareness, Treatment, Sustainability) – The Bridge, a local non-profit agency established in 2014 with the specific goal of fighting opioid abuse,” Sluder said.
Terry was born in Texas and raised in New Mexico, where she met her husband of 44 years, Herb Terry.
Terry graduated from Lee University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and completed her Master of Science degree in social work from the University of Tennessee, Sluder said.
She currently serves as executive director of The Bridge.
Brad Benton was honored with the Brad H. Benton Business Leadership Award. It is the first year the award has been given and honors those who have given many years of service to TCPS and the business community.
Benton is the son of Cletus Benton – a Cleveland native and self-made businessman.
Cletus’ grandfather, helped start the Church of God denomination, with international headquarters in Cleveland, Sluder said.
“Cletus Benton basically changed the landscape of Keith Street in Cleveland,” Sluder said. “What were once open fields and a two-lane road, is now fully developed on a 4-lane stretch of highway.”
Cletus Benton opened a Holiday Inn, as well as a Shoney’s restaurant on Keith Street in the early 1970s.
Sluder said his son, Ben, graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1985, with a Bachelor’s degree in hospitality and a minor in general business.
“Brad, began working in the family business at Shoney’s. During his 22 years at Shoney’s, he served on the Franchise Advisory Committee for 14 years, was selected as Franchisee of the Year in 1997 and propelled the Cleveland Shoney’s to the top performing restaurant in the nation for more than a decade,” Sluder said. “In 2001, he bought the Baskin-Robbins franchise, another family business, from his brother. He has served on numerous committees with the Baskin-Robbins brand, opened a second franchise location in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in May 2013, and a third franchise location in East Brainerd in January 2017. In June of 2018, he introduced the Toll House brand into the Chattanooga location.”
Benton has been married to Wendy Neeley for more than 23 years. They have three children, Neeley, Luke and Parker Benton.
All three children graduated from Tennessee Christian Preparatory School and all three attend Lee University, Sluder said.
In addition, Sluder said Benton has “served on the board of trustees of our school for 16 years and has been the board president for the past 12 years. He is also a member of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He and Wendy are members at First Baptist Church of Cleveland.”