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He’s Something Else – Story Honoring Earl Kendall

2009 1st Place Winner

Beth Weatherford, Teacher, Henry County Schools

This story began five years ago when Mr. Earl Kendall became the principal of Lakewood Middle School. He inspired everyone to be the best that they could be. His ability to communicate and get along with the entire middle school was impressive. It was amazing how he handled each and every situation. He gained the respect of all, and definitely, made a difference in the lives of the students, faculty, and community.
In the mornings, he would walk the hall, smiling and greeting the students and teachers. He complimented us every day. He cared about us, whether it was personal or school-related. He motivated us to be the best that we could be. We loved our jobs and wanted to go to work each day. He encouraged us to use “differentiated learning” to meet the needs of all students and to brainstorm ways to teach that would raise our performance levels, academically. He always told us the most important aspect of teaching is building relationships with our students. After all of that hard work, it paid off. We were recognized for scoring in the top ten percent in the State of Tennessee. Because of him, we all made a difference in the learning environment of our school.
He has impressed me most with this communication skills and discipline procedures with the students. It was never one certain way or rule. It was different with each child and situation. The students highly respected him for that, too. I have seen him having to raise his voice at those students, who continually misbehaved, and he got their attention, immediately. I have also seen him take many troubled students and turn them around emotionally, socially, and academically. He would put his arm around an upset student and invite that student to his office to talk. Other ways he intervened in the students’ lives were by providing transportation to and from school events, providing lunch money, occasionally, Christmas gifts for needy students, and participating in the bicycle club by riding his bike with the students. It was obvious! He had a big heart! Not only did he talk the talk, but he walked the walk.
One recognition program for the teachers in our district was paying them $500 extra in their paychecks for not missing more than their two personal days throughout the entire year. This helped us keep the students focused on their learning by not having many substitute teachers come into the classes. Also, Mr. Kendall assigned teachers to be in charge of “teacher morale.” Events were held to recognize special times and teachers. We had fun luncheons, retirement and Christmas parties, baby showers, and drawings and prizes at faculty meetings. At the end of the year, Mr. Kendall provided the teachers with a nice dinner and flowers. He gave us certificates for excellence in teaching. He would brag on us for our accomplishments! These activities kept the teachers in good spirits and closely bonded.
When student activities were held, such as pep rallies, funny songs such as “Ice Cream and Cake”, “Macarena”, and “The Electric Slide” were played for the students to dance on the gym floor. Mr. Kendall would get out there and do a few jigs, just to make the students laugh and have a good time. He was always there! He attended all athletic events, field day activities, and school dances. He would show up at the after school football and softball practices. He even drove the bus on the sixth grade end-of-the-year field trip! It was amazing! He could do anything! The students loved him because they knew he supported and cared about them.
He walked into my classroom the first month of school and asked me if there were any students keeping me from teaching. I had good classroom management, but when the students knew the principal supported me, it just made it all the easier. This encouraged the students to behave and work hard. All I ever do had to do was open my door and tell the students that Mr. Kendall would be coming by the room shortly. After that, they never missed a beat with academics of behavior in my classroom!
He supported many programs in our school which made a great impact on our students. The Olweus program was one that encouraged students to treat each other kindly. The teachers presented many anti-bullying activities weekly in their classrooms. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital Math-A-Thon was graciously acknowledged in our school and community. The students raised almost $5,000 in a two-week period one year and a total of nearly $15,000 in four years. Empathy for these sick children was shown during our efforts. In fact, the students chose to travel to St. Jude’s Hospital for their annual field trip. Relay for Life was another important activity in our school. We all participated in bake sales, luncheons, a photo shoot, a beauty pageant, and the selling of luminaries. Mr. Kendall allowed me to ride my bicycle seven miles from my house to the school to raise money for this project, also. The students paid one dollar for water balloons and twenty dollars for a five-gallon bucket of water to throw at me. Over two hundred dollars was raised to support this worthwhile foundation. He encouraged us to be involved in Service Learning projects at our school. Students participated in many activities and learned curriculum standards while engaged in community service. One of these was “Africa Day” in which the students raised money to buy sleep nets to prevent the children of Africa from getting malaria. Other projects were fingerprinting all the students in the county for safety purposes, making and selling cookbooks in math class to benefit Relay for Life, promoting students to “Say No to Tobacco”, and creating anti-bullying flyers to distribute to elementary students encouraging them to not bully others.
He is involved in many community activities. After school hours, he works at the ball park with the youth. He teaches adult education classes to the inmates and encourages them to get their GED and how to turn their lives around. He speaks to the youth at various churches in our community. He rings the bell at Wal-Mart to help raise money for the needy at Christmas. He is a member of the Lion’s Club and Kappa Alpha Psi, a fraternity that works with the youth, especially the African American youth, to instill in them good character and good health.
This man was and is extraordinary! As a result of his success at our middle school, he was asked to be principal at a ninth grade school in our county that had gotten out of control and lost its unity. He has already made an awesome turn around with that school in one year!
This person has made a difference in the lives of many people from our school to our community. I wrote a poem to express my appreciation to this powerful and influential person. I would like to end on this note in honor of Mr. Herbert Earl Kendall.

Your sparkling eyes and smiling face
Your friendly voice and caring ways
You are the “Boss” at Lakewood School
Letting the students know that you rule!

Your gift of touch……so gentle and warm
Makes us feel safe……from all harm.
You are a counselor……consoling and true
Giving us confidence in all that we do.

Your gift of kindness, love and care
Gives us comfort…..enough to bear.
You are a caretaker…..a friend every day
Making our jobs worth it all…..today!

Your gift of gab…..your ways of healing
Helps us express our inward feelings.
You are a communicator every day
Helping us know just what to say.

Your gift of love…..You “preacher boy”
Brings us so much happiness and joy.
You are God’s servant every day
Encouraging us to be the same way.

You are “Something Else”… I will have to say
An athlete, dancer, eleven years with TVA
A carpenter, coach and teacher of high grades
You are definitely known as a “man of all trades!”

Unselfish and faithful
Helping mankind
Binding hearts
Are his goals in mind!

Teaching adult education
With no fame to find
Giving scholarship money
With no glory in mind.

Ball park hours
Another way of giving
Make up the flowers
Of his bouquet of living.

But all is rewarding
If jobs are found
All is honorable
If homes are sound.

All is worthwhile
If youth are guided
All is glorious
If community is united!

I feel he should be noted
As “Principal of the Year”
For serving our community
So loyal and dear.

Herbert Earl Kendall
You’re number one
Always working
Till the job is done!