Blount County administrators among many over state retiring

Cleveland Elementary principal Dr. David Bradford and Susan Moore High principal Steve Hallman, who are retiring next month, are two of many Alabama education employees who are retiring this year because of new state benefit plans.

The plans, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, will gradually increase the cost of health benefits over the next five years and will require employees to pay more toward their retirement. These changes will not apply to those who retire before Dec. 1, and personnel had until Nov. 1 to give notice of their retirement plans.

Bradford, who originally planned to retire in 2017, is in his 10th year as Cleveland Elementary principal and his 31st in education. He began his career in 1980 as a math teacher at Sardis High (Etowah County) and began working for the Gadsden City School System in 1981 at Litchfield High, where he taught advanced math and computer science and coached basketball. After 14 years there, Bradford served three years as secondary curriculum coordinator for the Gadsden City School System while teaching adjunct courses at Gadsden State Community College.

Bradford became the principal of Floyd Elementary in 1998 and was there three years before teaching math at Susan Moore High for one year. He moved into his current position at Cleveland in 2002. Bradford says he has enjoyed his career in education and his time at Cleveland Elementary.

“Education has been a good career for me. I love coming to school every day. There’s not a single day that I’ve not wanted to go to work, and I’ll always be fond of Cleveland Elementary School,” said Bradford.

Bradford says he hates to leave Cleveland earlier than planned, but because of the new benefits plan and other factors, he decided that an early retirement was his best option. He is confident the school board will find a great replacement and is willing to offer help and advice to the new principal. Bradford says he also has confidence in the Cleveland faculty and staff.

“I am pleased at the condition that I’m leaving the total school program at Cleveland. It’s not because of me. It’s because of the whole team of faculty and staff that have worked hard to make each year better than the last. We are on sound financial condition as a school and have met all of our AYP goals every year since No Child Left Behind has gone into effect. Student achievement scores have improved every year,” said Bradford.

Hallman is currently in his third year as principal of Susan Moore High and his 21st in the education field. He began his career teaching social studies at Hayden High and was there for three years. He was out of public education for 18 years while working in fund-raising and development in Mississippi and Ohio before returning to Blount County.

Hallman began teaching social studies at Cleveland High in 1993 and taught for 10 years before becoming the school’s assistant principal. He moved into his current position in 2009 and has enjoyed his time at Susan Moore High.

“The thing I’ve enjoyed most about the school is I’ve had a great administrator working alongside me, Chris Pullen,” said Hallman.

Hallman said he originally planned to retire at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, but decided to retire a semester early because of the new benefits plan. He will miss the Susan Moore community.

“Susan Moore has a great faculty, staff, and student body, and, with rare exception, parents support us and work with us. I can’t imagine a school anywhere where the teachers and coaches love the students more than they do here,” said Hallman.

He thanks his wife, Sara, for her support throughout the years and recognizes the four volunteers who have operated the chain at the football games every Friday night for many years. Junior Alldredge, Lambert Blakely, Tommy Latta, and Steve Skillman.

Both Bradford and Hallman say they take with them many fond memories.

“The fondest memory in public education in Alabama is helping a kid go from being the worst kid in the school to one of the best in the school,” said Hallman.