Colleagues, community turn out to offer good wishes to retiring Shamblin

The Alcoa community streamed into the City Schools’ board room on Tuesday, May 24, to give their best wishes to a man who has served the community for 29 years.

Alcoa City Schools director Tom Shamblin is retiring from his position at the end of June and will stay on as a part-time finance director once Dr. Brian Bell takes over on July 1.

Board member Mickey McClurg said Shamblin has been very important to the system. “One of his strongest characteristics is his integrity, which is absolutely outstanding,” McClurg said. “When Tom tells you something, you can head to the bank.”

McClurg said one of Shamblin’s strengths is that he is a people person. “He can be churning on the inside, but he’s always calm on the outside. People have the upmost respect for him.”

Steve Marsh, school board chair, praised Shamblin. “Tom is top-notch,” he said. “He’s a great communicator and would always let us know what was going on.”

School board member Julie Rochelle said Shamblin’s personality has been an asset to the system. “He’s kept peace in the valley,” she said. “He’s been able to deal with students, parents and the community and done a marvelous job.”

Rochelle said the outgoing schools director has been able to deal with difficult situations in a professional manner. “With this economy, we now have homeless families and a lot of their children come here. A lot of families are in stress,” she said. “This job has been his mission field. He’s dealt with families and children.”

Shamblin said that he was humbled by the strong turnout for the retirement reception. “It has been a real honor to have served as director of schools at Alcoa,” he said. “It’s a great place with a lot of great people.”

The retiring schools director graduated Alcoa High School in 1972, but never gave much thought to teaching, much less being schools director. “Not in my wildest dreams. I didn’t even major in education in college. I taught math, language arts and PE at the middle school level for 23 years.”

Shamblin said the federal No Child Left Behind law was a big change that brought more accountability on teachers and an emphasis on test scores. “Test scores were always important to us, but the pressure on teachers doesn’t compare to what it was when I first started,” he said.

Shamblin said he appreciated the support his wife and family have given him over the years. “I couldn’t have done this job without them, their understanding and their willingness to let me keep things to myself,” he said. “They were OK with me not telling everything I knew. I’m very thankful for my family, wife and kids.”

Shamblin and his wife, Terry, have been married 28 years. They have three grown children -- daughters Jessica Rassmussen, 32, and Martha Kate Spencer, 27; and a son, Jacob Shamblin, 22.

The outgoing schools director also thanked the school board. “They had the confidence to put me in as schools director and stuck with me these seven years,” he said.

Shamblin said he was flattered by the compliments and well-wishes from those attending the reception. “I appreciate those comments and the confidence people have had in me to be director of schools,” he said. “I think a good part of who I am is because of my parents and even my grandparents.”

Jim Kirk, principal at Alcoa Middle School said he taught with Shamblin before he got into administration. “He’s a life-long friend of mine.”

Cathy Adderhold, fifth grade teacher, Alcoa Elementary School, praised the retiring schools director. “Tom is just a good person and such a good role model in the system,” she said.

Alcoa Middle School teacher Monique Maples echoed Adderhold’s thoughts. “He has an open door policy and knows everybody by name,” she said.

Jason Dickson teaches in the Alcoa afterschool program at the elementary school. “Tom Shamblin does what he needs to do to make this system the best it can be,” Dickson said. “Even though I’ve only worked here three years, the efficiency of the central office shows at every level with all three schools.”

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