When the Young Scholars Institute got its start in 1984, Jimmy Haley was there as an instructor.
Now 37 years later, Haley is officially stepping away from the program after years as an instructor and co-director. Haley admits he’s not enthusiastic about the move.
“This is how I’ve spent my summer vacation for years,” said Haley. “The state says I have to leave so that’s what I’m doing. I already miss it.”
Haley spent decades in the Warren County School System as an educator before being elected Warren County Executive in 2018. His role as the county’s top leader apparently prevents him from working with the YSI program.
“The state says I can’t do both so I’m not doing both,” said Haley.
Haley and Carol Neal were honored Friday morning for their years of service with YSI. Neal is stepping away after 16 years as co-director and 27 years with YSI in all.
“You know in your heart when it’s time and it’s time for me,” said Neal. “I’ve told them they can call me if they need me, but it’s best to leave like a lady and let someone else come in and take over and run with their ideas.”
Tim Fariss and Kevin Dunlap are taking over as co-directors next year. Tim had high praise for Carol and Jimmy, who he said he worked with his first couple years in YSI.
Dunlap remembers participating in the YSI program as a student in the 1980s.
“The great part about it was the field trips,” said Kevin. “Every day was an adventure that I’d look forward to.”
A theme has already been established for next year, “Time Travel.”
“It’s a broad theme and it will be up to each teacher to incorporate their own ideas around that theme,” said Dunlap, who has been a YSI teacher since 2005.
Fariss has been a YSI teacher for 21 years and says he’s excited about his new role as co-director next year.
A key part of the YSI program is its volunteers. Kara Campbell, now a doctor in veterinary science, was on hand Friday. She has been a YSI volunteer through high school and college and is now prepared to start a job at Sparta Road Veterinary Clinic on Monday.
“I always viewed this as a way to give back and I loved traveling to Nashville and Chattanooga on field trips with these kids,” said Dr. Campbell. “I always stressed to the kids the importance of community service and how it helps to make a well-rounded individual.”
As for her new job as a veterinarian, Kara says it’s a natural fit.
“I always wanted to have a job I could be proud of doing and helping animals, who can’t speak for themselves, is that type of job,” she said.