Grissom High principal announces retirement - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Grissom High principal announces retirement


A longtime icon of the Huntsville school system is moving on.

Grissom High School Principal Tom Drake is retiring, the Huntsville School Board revealed Tuesday night. 

"You know we all get to the point where we have to finish the book and I was at the last chapter," said Drake. "So I'm going to see what the next book looks like."

Drake stands apart as one of the longest serving principals in the country. His retirement comes after 47 years with the school system.

"He has really, really, made an impact on a lot of kids that have gone through this school system. I know we're going to greatly miss him. He's certainly taught me a lot," said school board member David Blair. 

Drake's 13 years in the head office at Grissom were preceded by 11 years at Butler High School and 11 years at Johnson High. He also served as principal at Huntsville Junior High, Challenger, Davis Hill and Ed White.

"This was my 35th graduation," Drake recalled. "That's about 15,000 kids I've gotten to shake hands and give diplomas to. It's just been phenomenal."

Drake said he plans to concentrate on his health and eventually do some sort of work with Huntsville students, perhaps speaking engagements…after some time with his family.

"I'm going to work with my son on the farm," he said. "I'm going to help my daughter with her two wonderful boys. I'm going to take them fishing by the pond." 

School system leaders, including Superintendent Casey Wardynski said they hope to keep taking advantage of Drake's years of educating kids.

"His experience is so deep," said school board member Jenny Robinson. "I'm hoping that we can strike that balance for him where he can enjoy retirement and we can still take advantage of his unique skills and insights and abilities.  He's forgotten more than most of us know about how to impact children." 

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