BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Director of Communications
WEAKLEY COUNTY (June 21) – The June 30 retirements of two long-time Weakley County educators have produced a domino effect of administration changes. When the Board of Education recognized the 2020 and 2021 retirees at its June board meeting, among the celebrated were Jeff Kelley and Chuck West.
Kelley began his 40-year tenure in Weakley County, serving first as a teacher and football coach at then-Dresden Junior High. In 1984, he moved to Dresden High School as a teacher, assistant football coach and head baseball coach. Next, he served as principal of Weakley County Vocational Center, then in 1994 became the Dresden Middle School principal. In 2007, he was named the assistant director for the district.
Chuck West taught in East Tennessee before arriving in Dresden. His career in education spanned 43 years, including a stint as teacher, assistant football coach and head basketball coach at Dresden High School before becoming principal in 1989.
Kelley’s departure meant Director Randy Frazier needed to find a new assistant director. He didn’t have to look far. Betsi Foster, the current Director of Federal Programs who oversees federal funds, policies, data collection and helps with grant writing, will assume that role on July 1.
Her move left open her position which will be filled by Jon Gardner, current principal at Martin Middle.
Last week, Frazier announced that John Lifsey, assistant principal at Westview High School, had accepted the MMS principal position. Principal Jeromy Davidson has now filled the opening with Brian Allen, who previously taught drivers’ education and served as assistant football coach.
West and Scott Killebrew worked together for three years with Killebrew in the assistant principal position. He will now be the principal at DHS. Krystle Smith, who directed the Monitored Distance Education program launched during the pandemic, has accepted the role of assistant principal there.
“In saying goodbye to two dedicated educators – Jeff Kelley and Chuck West – who have spent their careers investing in this system, we are losing a great deal of expertise. We appreciate all the work they did,” Frazier said.
Looking toward the upcoming year, Frazier expressed hope that the limitations caused by strict COVID-19 safety protocols were now a thing of the past.
“We are ready to get back to where we were headed,” he said. “The health of our county is contingent upon the health of our school system.”
As for the new administrators, he underscored, “They have already shown they are passionate about our systems and our schools. And I’m excited about the creative energy they will bring.”