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Principal Wilson to retire from West Valley Middle School


West Valley Middle School will be losing the only principal the school has ever known when Dr. William Chandler “Bill” Wilson retires at the end of the year.

Wilson, a Farragut High School and Carson-Newman College alumnus, will retire after 33 years in public school service.

On April 27 the PTA hosted a unique retirement party. The “Farewell Frenzy” dance-a-thon was held in the school gymnasium. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders took turns enjoying music supplied by Cotton Eyed Joe and participated in group dances that included Wilson. Wilson has served as principal for the last seven years, and prior to that was an assistant principal at Farragut Middle School for 14 years.

“Through a lot of prayers” he came to the conclusion that God was ready for him to do something else, Wilson said. He said he is retiring from the Knox County Schools System, but may end up doing something else. “There are a lot of opportunities out there.”

Staff members at the school echoed the same sentiment about watching their principal go: expessing a lot of respect for Wilson.

“I have been with Dr. Wilson for over ten years,” said Lavonne Pierce, school secretary, “and I would not have traded them for anything. The years have been both rewarding and unforgettable. I will miss his wisdom, sense of humor and his compassion.”

“He always puts children first,” said Jane Finley, assistant principal at WVMS who has worked with Wilson for four years. “He truly cares about kids and their welfare and education, and has throughout his career. He cares about his family and is very proud of the accomplishments of his sons.”

“I have known Dr. Wilson for twenty-one years now,” said Cheryl Gann, assistant principal, “since I started my very first year of teaching twenty-one years ago at Powell Middle.

“Many people don’t know that he is a big joker. He was behind quite a few practical jokes that were pulled on me. One day I walked in and my entire classroom had disappeared — all desks, books, teacher’s desk, everything was set up as a classroom in the side yard of the school,” she said, adding that he was trying to astonish her. “I walked right out in the side yard and started class. I remind him of it all the time. If he walks in one day and his desk is gone, he’ll know who was behind it.”

On a more serious note, Gann described Wilson as a fine Christian man who has always been there for support. “He is very levelheaded when you’re in need of advice,” she said.

Health teacher and girls basketball coach Tim Goddard has worked with Wilson since WVMS opened.

“I have worked in a lot of different schools in my thirty-one years,” he said. “Dr. Wilson is one of the very best, not only personally, but professionally, that I’ve ever worked with.

“I’ve worked in probably over twenty different schools and with probably forty different principals. I’ve personally appreciated his team philosophy. He doesn’t lord his position over people. He’s a team-concept person. Every decision or situation I’ve been around him with, he knows the right thing to do and puts what’s best for the students foremost. He’s a tireless worker. Being a coach and living close to the school, I’ve known him to be here very early and very late any day of the week.”

The students and staff of WVMS have received numerous honors during Wilson’s stay. Wilson was named the Tennessee Association of Middle Schools Principal of the Year in 2002, the same year the school received Southern Accreditation of Colleges and Schools accreditation.

“Since its inception, West Valley has been recognized for excellence,” Wilson said, adding the school has had the highest attendance rate of all the middle schools in Knox County the past seven years. WVMS has also maintained the highest writing assessment scores in the county for all seven years.

“WVMS has an outstanding fine arts department with ninety-eight percent of all students enrolled in a performing arts group,” Wilson said.

WVMS has had championship sports teams in basketball, track and cross-country, and was the first middle school in the state to host a Student Council State Convention. The WVMS PTSA has won numerous awards at the state and national level, Wilson said, and there have been more than 100,000 PTSA volunteer hours recorded over the last seven years.

Wilson said his philosophy of education has been to make the best decision for the welfare of the student, regardless of the circumstances. He said he has always tried to seek God’s wisdom and guidance in all situations.

Wilson said he expects the new principal to get to know the students and staff, then gradually begin to put his or her own stamp on the school. He said one issue the new administrator will have to deal with is adolescent obesity that will be addressed through the state-mandated wellness policy to be in place before the new school year begins.

Over his 33 years experience, which began as a fifth-grade teacher at Ritta Elementary School, Wilson said the biggest change he’s seen in students is just how busy they are.

“Students have so many more things they can be involved in,” he said. “They seem to be very busy.”

What can parents do to help their child succeed in school?

“I think [during] the transition from elementary to middle school, the most important thing to remember is parents need to keep informed. They need to be involved with the school. If it’s a community issue, they really need to communicate with the school and pay attention to the school’s efforts to communicate with them.”

Wilson received his bachelor’s degree in education from Carson-Newman College where he met his bride-to-be, Judy Blair. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Tennessee. He and his wife have two sons, Chandler, who is a certified public accountant with Pershing Yoakley Associates, and Alex, who is a seminary student at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.

Wilson served as vice chair of deacons at First Baptist Church Knoxville from 1974 to 1989, and as elder at Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church from 1994 to 2005.

He has taught Sunday School for children and adults.

lead adult Bible studies, officiated at Odyssey of the Mind competitions and coached AYSO soccer.

He plans to enjoy time golfing, fishing and doing home improvement projects when he retires.

 

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