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Hale retires after 37 years
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A memorable education career will come to an end this month when Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale retires after 37 years.
Hale doesn’t have any specific plans for his retirement. “The first thing I want to do is get away and take some time off to get a good rest. Then, I will just see what is out there. Nothing definite. I used to fish, but haven’t in a while. I may take that up again,” Hale said.
 Hale said he does enjoy watching sporting events and hopes to be able to enjoy more games with his wife, Sherry, who retired from teaching in December. “I like to see the Vanderbilt Commodores play. I want to see MTSU play some games now that I have some time. I haven’t been to any of their games in a long time. I’d like to do that. I also want to take in some Warren County games down the road. I’d like to see some elementary games. We have some brand new gyms that I haven’t even seen a game in yet. I’d like to do that,” said Hale.
Hale said he is apprehensive and excited about his impending retirement.
“You don’t do something for 37 years and just completely get over it. I am excited. I’m ready for a change. I’m going to do some part-time stuff. I’m on a couple of boards, the River Park board of directors and the Bridgestone Community Advisory Counsel. I am also on the board of trustees at my church, Bascom United Methodist Church.”
Hale continued, “I want to look at some other options out there. I‘ve had a couple of companies ask me if I would consider doing some consulting. I may do some of that. One school asked me if I want to supervise some student teachers. I don’t know if I want to do that or not. I don’t know what I’ll do.”
A career in education seemed natural for Hale who has family members in the field.
“My mother was a teacher. My brother was a teacher. My father was a teacher. My father, as a young man, taught a little bit before he settled on farming. It was something that my family had done. When I looked at everything, it seemed like the natural thing to do. I was around school all the time. I liked school,” said Hale.
“That is really the only thing I thought about as a young person was being in the school profession. I got my radio license. I got my 3rd class radio/ telephone license and minored in broadcasting. I spent a lot of time at the campus radio station. But education was the best fit for me.”
Hale received his bachelor’s degree in social studies and secondary education from MTSU. He added his elementary endorsement when receiving his master’s, also from MTSU. He later received his doctorate in school administration from Vanderbilt University.
Hale’s first teaching position was a math tutorial job in the Title I program in Warren County. He taught at three county schools – two days a week at Centertown, two days at Morrison, and one day a week at Irving College.
Hale then applied for and received a full-time job, also in Title I, as a reading instructor at Centertown. He worked there for five and a half years. He said, “I will always remember getting started and what it was like as a beginning teacher.”
Hale said, “Accountability is the biggest difference between teaching today and teaching years ago. When I started, you went in your classroom, you had your kids, and you were basically an island unto yourself so to speak. I remember my first evaluation was a self-evaluation. Of course, the principal checked it with me and went over it with me but it was a self-evaluation.” Hale continued, “Now there is a myriad of the state model and everything that has to be done. When No Child Left Behind came in 2002, that put sanctions to all the accountability and you had to make all the benchmarks, if not you could go on probation either by school or by system basically. We were still under that until this spring.”
Bryan Knight assigned Hale as special education director for the county in 1981. Hale was special ed director for a year and a half.  In special ed, he helped start the gifted program and the Young Scholars program. It was during this time he also helped open the Teacher Center.
Hale decided to take a leave of absence and went back to school to work on his doctorate. He also spent a year as a graduate research assistant at Vanderbilt.
While attending Vanderbilt, Hale lived in and substituted in Georgia. He drove four hours each way between Georgia and Nashville while going to school.
Hale set up permanent residence in Georgia and taught at Towers High School in DeKalb County, Ga., on the northeastern side of Atlanta for two and a half years. He said teaching in Atlanta was different than teaching in Tennessee because the district he taught in had over 90,000 students.
Hale decided to move back to Tennessee and Warren County. It was during this time he worked with the vocational improvement program at WCHS. He taught tutorial classes such as teaching students how to pass competency tests for a year.
Hale then worked at Irving College as a social studies and PE teacher and also coached four basketball teams. He enjoyed working at Irving College, but tired of coaching four ball teams.
The following year, 1987, he was able to move to North Side School where he taught fifth and sixth grade PE and coached one sixth grade boys basketball team.
School Superintendent Ron Martin then asked Hale to work with the adult literacy program, headquartered at Gribble Memorial. This is the program of which Hale has his fondest memories. Hale worked a dual program with Janet Thrower who taught students earning their GEDs while Hale did the adult literacy part of the program.
“That was a very good program. Most everybody that came wanted to improve their skills and get more education. You were dealing with situations where people really wanted to be there and you could see the differences you were making and improving people’s situations,” Hale said.
In 1992, Pedro Paz asked Hale to be director of instruction, which is incoming Director Bobby Cox’s present position. Paz left in 2000 and that was when the School Board started appointing directors. Hale said, “I wasn’t going to apply but had two board members who asked me to, so I did and they chose me. I’ve been doing that the last 12 years.”
Hale reflected on recent improvements made in the school system since he has been a part of it, including WCS TV station with Joe Harvey, meeting systemwide SACS accreditation, the co-ordinated school health program, and the expansion of school health services. There is now a nurse in every school. Hale said the Mechatronics program starting this fall at the high school is a great program that will be useful to many students.
“I want to thank all the people I’ve worked with over the years,” said Hale. “They made a big difference and I’ve really enjoyed the relationships I’ve formed over the years. I want to thank the various School Board members and past superintendents for the opportunities they have given me over the years. I wish the system well in the future. I believe our best days are ahead of us and I just feel like I’ve been blessed with a good opportunity and I want thank everybody for the kindness they’ve shown my family and me,” said Hale.