BHS Principal Tommie Howell announces retirement

Published 5:20 pm Friday, March 31, 2017

By Powell Cobb

& Carolyn Iamon

The Post-Searchlight

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With almost 40 years of service to the Decatur County School System under his belt, Bainbridge High School Principal Tommie Howell announced his retirement this week.

“Being an educator in Decatur County and at Bainbridge High School has been my life’s calling, and it has been an absolute honor and privilege working with the faculty, staff, students, and parents of BHS,” Howell said.

Howell has been principal of BHS for 15 years, and involved with the Decatur County Schools for 37 years, having taught science at Hutto for four years, then at BHS, where he became assistant principal in 1990.

He is truly a “home-grown boy,” who grew up in West Bainbridge and graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1976. After graduating from Bainbridge College, he attended Florida State University, where he received his bachelor’s, Troy State to obtain a master’s and then received a specialist degree from Valdosta State University.

He will tell you that what he has enjoyed most about his 37 years in education has been interacting with the students.

“Either Education is a calling, or it’s a job. For me, it’s always been a calling,” he explained.

That statement is backed up with the knowledge that he always has known the names of all students at the high school each year.

In 2015 he was the subject of the Pilot Club Roast, and has always held the Pilot Club in his esteem, thanks to his mother’s activity with the Pilot Club, as well as the club’s interaction with the high school.

He is also a faithful member of the Bainbridge Rotary Club, and often brings two or three students from the school’s Interact Club to the weekly luncheon meetings.

English teacher Heidi Chambers is on her 24th year of teaching at Bainbridge High School, and she has been with Howell for every one of them.

“He is an incredible people person. I think he knows the name of every student that has attended the high school and every student who has ever attended,” Chambers said. “He always considers family first, knows the name of everyone’s spouses, the children. He goes the extra mile to see how they are doing.”

Chambers said that personality is extra effective when working with high school teachers, and a tremendous asset to the high school.

Susan Moseley, has served as guidance counselor at Bainbridge High School for 20 years. When she first came there, Tommie Howell was the assistant principal. Through the years she has seen his commitment to the children of Decatur County, making sure they receive the best education possible.

“His attention to detail is exceptional. I sat in awe the first time I was at one of his graduation exercises. It is always student led and that makes the parents proud.”

She also commented on his support of all the athletic programs and the extracurricular activities, saying, “He rarely missed one.”

One of the biggest highlights of his career, in Moseley’s view, was his leading the charge for the Teachers as Advisors program, wherein every staff member has to participate. “ It makes such a difference in developing closer relationships with the students. “ She noted that he really gets to know each student, and remembers them even after they graduate.

“His commitment has been phenomenal and he will truly be missed.”

One thing is certain: Howell’s favorite colors will always be purple and gold.

“Mr. Howell has given his life to the students of Decatur County,” Decatur County Superintendent Tim Cochran said. “We are blessed and grateful for all that he has done and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”

Senior Emilee Poppell said Howell is one of the most outstanding men in the Decatur County School System.

“He does more for the students than anyone knows about and is one of the most selfless men I know,” Poppell said. “He truly cares for each one of us individually. I am honored to say that he is both my principal and my mentor. With my mom being a teacher at the high school, I have known Mr. Howell all my life and never once have I known him to change his morals. I am thankful to have been under the administration of Mr. Howell.”

Howell’s final day will be June 30.

Finding a replacement for Howell is still in its infancy stages, according to Cochran. The position will be advertised and interviewed for in the coming months.