Jasper — On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Waylon Bush was appointed as Site Administrator for Hamilton County High School (HCHS), replacing former principal Wanda Law, according to Hamilton County Superintendent of Schools Thomas Moffses.
Moffses explained that Law has transitioned to Central Hamilton Elementary to provide instructional assistance under Principal Lee Wetherington Zamora. Bush, he said, has been contracted through June 30 of this year and will be in charge of staff, discipline, and students at the high school.
“This is a short-term, contracted position ending June 30, 2013,” said Moffses. “Mr. Bush is a highly qualified educator/administrator that has stepped out of retirement momentarily to help better the Hamilton County school system.” He went on to say, “Additionally, the 2013-14 principal position at HCHS is now posted through March 21, 2013."
Bush’s first day at HCHS was Wednesday afternoon, Feb 20, and on Thursday, Feb. 21, he spent his first full day meeting with staff and students.
Bush has an impressive professional educational background. He holds a BS degree in education and a major in both social sciences and psychology from Troy University. He went on to receive another masters degree from Troy State University Montgomery in counseling and human development, as well as a certification in administration and supervision from Auburn University Montgomery (AUM).
“I’ve been a principal for about 10 years, I’ve been an administrative assistant, I served on the school board here in Hamilton County for eight years, I taught school for over 20 years, I coached for 25, and I've driven a bus a time or two,” said Bush.
He began his teaching career in Hamilton County in 1971.
“I came here straight out of Troy in 1971 and spent 21 years,” he said. “My mother was visiting her brother who lived in Lake City and I put in an application (with Hamilton County Schools). The day I put in the application, the history teacher resigned and I got hired that day.”
In 1972 Bush transferred to South Hamilton Elementary where he taught until 1978. Then he taught and coached at the high school at its old location in downtown Jasper from 1978-82 and again from 1983-84. In 1984 he was elected to the Hamilton County School Board where he served for eight years, while working at Occidental Chemical (now PotashCorp White Springs).
After his term on the school board ended Bush went back to his home town in Alabama where he taught at an alternative school for a year, before teaching and coaching at his alma mater for 12 years.
“During that time we went to three state championships and won two of them,” he said. “Then, I became the principal there.”
Bush returned to Hamilton County and from 2005 to 2011 he was principal at South Hamilton Elementary in White Springs, which is where he now resides with his wife Sherry and their two chihuahuas, Baby and Special Agent Dundee. They have two grown children and one grandson. He retired from the Hamilton County School system in 2011.
“Eighteen months later, here I am,” he said from behind his desk at HCHS.
While he was in retirement, Bush was a member of the White Springs Charter School Governing Board, hoping to be their principal. After the governing board's two attempts applying for a conversion charter school and being turned down by the Hamilton County School District, Bush decided to resign from that board.
“At the last meeting I told the board not to consider me anymore as a principal,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I said, this ex-officio member of this unofficial board and this unofficial charter school is giving his official notice to the unofficial board that I no longer wish to be considered as principal.”
Bush said if the charter school governing board decides to move forward with their plan to convert South Hamilton into a charter school, it won't be able to happen until the 2014-15 school year.
“That was limiting the opportunities that could have come my way that I might have been interested in,” said Bush. “There was no school, there was no contract, there was nothing. I thought, I don't know where I'll be a year from now. I might be back in Alabama.”
When asked why he came out of retirement, Bush laughed and said, “Because I can.” He went on to say, “Under the current situation, the responsibilities I have now are such that I feel like I can pursue my vision until the end of the school year.”
When asked what was next in his future come June 30, Bush said, “We'll see. I don't know. That will be the end of my contract. I do like retirement,” he added, laughing.
Bush said there are some great kids at HCHS, some very bright kids, he added.
“That story has not been told as much as some of the damaging stories have been told,” he said. “There's some excellent teachers here, there's some committed staff here, and I'm saying this out of my heart, who are really working hard and they've been beaten around and knocked around by situations that they don't always have a great deal of control over. I'm just saying there is a great deal of potential here and there's a lot going on that's very, very positive that just didn't get told.”
Bush said he spent all day last Thursday visiting every classroom and meeting a lot of the students. He also said he has examined many of the personal, team and school accomplishments over the years.
“That's what we want to focus on,” he said. “We want to get that story out because it's a true story.”
Bush said it was clear that Supt. Moffses has a vision and the drive to get there.
“I welcome Mr. Bush and look forward to the positive changes he brings to our high school working with our students and personnel,” said Moffses.