Embracing his upcoming retirement, Greenup County schools Superintendent Steve Hall says he has experienced a career with many memorable moments.
Hall, 59, says he has no firm plans for the time after his final day on the job at the end of June, although he plans to take some time off to reflect and consider his options. Born and raised in Ashland, and a member of the Paul G. Blazer High School class of 1972, Hall says his life and career have often been a reflection of the educators, coaches and role models from his early days, including Steve Gilmore, Phil Eason, Claude Blanton, his teacher, Mrs. Ross, “and a long list of other people,” among those who directly influenced his goals and decisions.
After first leaving Ashland, Hall attended what is now the University of Charleston, where he played baseball. After graduation, his first job was back in Ashland at Coles Junior High, working as a basketball coach before the allure of more money led him to a job in Connecticut, working for the Valvoline division of Ashland Oil.
“But, the coaching bug still had me,” he said with a chuckle, explaining he returned to the region with a job as assistant football and basketball coach, and head baseball coach, at Buffalo-Putnam High School in West Virginia. “Coaching is where my heart was. I hoped to have the same influence that so many had on me.”
A couple of years later, Hall pursued a chance to coach at Raceland-Worthington High School and then had an opportunity to become head coach at Blazer.
“My success as a coach was more with baseball. It was not all positive from a win/loss aspect, but it gave me a chance to grow and understand,” he said of his coaching days at Blazer.
Hall then moved into school administration, a role he said called heavily upon lessons learned while coaching. His first administrative job was as principal of the Ashland Day Treatment Center, an alternative school for at-risk students. Following up on professional opportunities as they were presented, Hall then went to work at Wurtland Middle School, a year before Larry Popovich retired at the nearby elementary school, creating another position for Hall to fill.
“From Day one, the Greenup people treated me like family,” he said, noting he left the Greenup system to serve as principal at Crabbe Elementary for nine years before returning to the neighboring system six years ago as a director of the Title One program.
When Superintendent Randy Hughes retired four years ago, Hall was selected to replace him. The new job came at a time when the county’s schools were under considerable scrutiny from state officials, he said, with Greenup County High School identified as one of the state’s persistently low-achieving schools.
“As difficult as it was, it was actually a blessing for us,” Hall said, explaining the situation prompted “renewed interest” from students, teachers, parents and the community.
“There were no excuses to be given because the fact of the matter was, that was our status,” he said, adding the school system adopted and embraced changes that are now in place at the county’s elementary and middle schools. “We have grown and become a better school system because of that. I was superintendent, but I was blessed with a long list of skillful and strong people who were responsible for that change. That change was needed, and it had to come from within.”
Not a golfer or a fisherman, Hall says he is stumped when asked what he plans to do after retirement. Hal said he may look forward to opportunities to work as a consultant for another former educator, and he hopes to continue building bonds with his son, Trevor, and daughter, Taylor.
“Both of my kids have been examples to me,” he said, noting his daughter’s outstanding work ethic alongside his son’s “kind heart” and truthfulness. Moments later he adds, “I hope as my kids grow and raise families, to be involved ... but, I don’t necessarily want to become a babysitter.”
Recalling his experience crashing a small airplane on the opposite side of the Ohio River, Hall hints he might resume flight lessons, although he grins as he says his casual travel plans these days tend to be oriented from between the wheels of his Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2651.