HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Following his retirement announcement in early July, long-time Grissom High School Principal Tom Drake was honored by the Madison County Commission Wednesday for his nearly 50 years of service to the Huntsville City School System.
WHNT News 19 asked Tom Drake what Huntsville will do without him.
“They will go far and fast without me,” laughed Drake. “I’m the old guy kinda slowing things down.”
Drake is humble as he is tenacious. But the impact of his service to the students of Huntsville is undeniable.
Since 1966 Drake has served as the principal at Challenger and Ed White Middle Schools, Johnson, Butler and Grissom High Schools and assistant principal at Davis Hills and Huntsville Middle Schools.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals honored Drake in March 2012 as one of the longest-serving school administrators in the country. With such a storied career, Drake says he is honored by the county commission’s recognition.
“I want to thank all of them for being a part of my life and for the impact they’ve given to me and definitely want to thank the commissioners for recognizing the work we have done in our schools,” says Drake. “They have been great in the leadership of their education voting.”
Drake says in reflecting on his career there are plenty of people to thank – none the least of which are all the parents and students over the years. Drake also says as new eras of leadership and venue are on the horizon for his old stomping grounds like Grissom and Johnson High Schools, he feels confident in the direction of Huntsville City Schools.
“I appreciate all the parents for sending their students ready to learn and to meet the goals that we have set for education,” beamed Drake, “and to the students that met the challenge and took advantage of the opportunities given to them, I do thank them and I know they are being rewarded today because of what they have learned in the school system.”
Drake, a native of Tennessee, began his career in 1965, teaching science for a year in Pulaski County, Ill. He came to Huntsville the following year and stayed in the Rocket City for the remainder of his career.
He says he plans to do a lot of relaxing and fishing with his grandkids as the next chapter of his life begins.
Grissom’s new principal has not been named yet.