Tom Drake Retires After 47 Years

#hsvboe keeps their seats.

Mr. Tom Drake, principal of Virgil I. Grissom High School, retired tonight after 47 years of service to our kids, our families,  our community and Huntsville City Schools.

When his retirement was announced tonight during the Human Resources report offered at the board meeting, the Huntsville City Board of Education and Superintendent Wardynski could not manage enough gratitude for nearly half a century of service to even leave their seats.

I don’t know Mr. Drake well. My children have not grown old enough to attend Grissom yet, thankfully, but these things I do know.

Unlike the current leadership of our district, Mr. Drake loves education. It is impossible to spend 47 years of your life doing something you hate doing. It is impossible to spend 47 years of your life working with countless numbers of children without loving it.

This is something that our current district leadership cannot conceive. They view experience and commitment as a drain on the district rather than a resource to be tapped into. And our system is weaker today as a result.

Mr. Drake committed to all of his students; even those who took more time and resources. His development of the life skills unit for students like my son will have a huge impact on our district for generations.

And I thank him for this.

He was one of the final tenured principals in our district, and this is a tragedy. Dr. Humphrey at Highlands Elementary is the last. Yes, sometimes having a principal with tenure resulted in abuses. But the days of a principal standing up to an abusive superintendent in defense of his or her teachers are, sadly, nearly over.

I thank him for his dedication, his years of service, and for his love of education.

I thank him for his commitment to all of his students.

And so I stand in his honor.

I stand because the board and the superintendent didn’t.

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. I knew when they talked about a new building, they would want a new principal. Tom spoke his mind and was a champion for students. Those two qualities are not valued anymore. Good luck, Tom. You are a great educator, man, and friend.

  2. I am that teacher of Mr. Drake’s Life Skills unit and I only have positive things to say about BT Drake! He is the BEST! He has supported every adventure we have taken and progress has been achieved. Mr. Drake has been our biggest cheerleader for the special needs population! HOPEFULLY, someone with the same compassion will guide Grissom. I look forward to having your son!

  3. I totally agree !!!! Like you said Russell, tenure, like everything else, has its pluses and minuses. Huntsville is despartely in need of principals who are willing to call the superintendent on the carpet.

  4. Just one more display of just how despicable and shameful a group of people we have on the Board and in the role of superintendent. The loss of real educators and school officials will be this town’s eventual downfall.

  5. Your blog begs many questions. One of the first is…Was any part of the bonus paid by the Huntsville City Board of Education (BOE) to Dr. Wardynsky for his first years’ performance UNEARNED because it included results from actions taken by the BOE at the request of Dr. Ed Richardson, and the $9 million fund receipt from the City of Huntsville?

    You have a MAJOR story here. Why has the local media failed to cover these details?

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