Happy Valley High School Principal to retire as school year ends

When current Happy Valley High School Principal Bernie Young first came to the school to teach in 1990, there were no baseball or softball fields, just rolling corn fields and a red barn. Through his and others’ efforts, including Tennessee state senators, they were able to get baseball and softball fields built, starting a legacy that would last for decades.

Young, now in his 60s, will be officially retiring from his position at the end of the 2018/2019 school year, bringing to a close roughly three decades of teaching.

“I am old,” Young said with a smile. “I just turned 64 on Saturday, and I knew it was time.”

The announcement comes after over three decades in the county school system, in just as many different positions as schools.

A history of his work in the Carter County school system include teaching at Happy Valley Middle for five years, moving next door to Happy Valley High School for seven years, relocating to Science Hill for six years, working at Milligan College as head and assistant baseball coach for one year each, teaching at Daniel Boone High School for one year and then finally returning to his roots to serve as Happy Valley High School’s assistant principal for eight years and principal for four years. This year will mark 33 years in education.

This love of teaching and coaching, he said, came from his interactions with his own teachers as a child.

“My high school teachers impressed me so much, I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he said.

He said he was terrified the first time he stepped into a classroom that first day at Happy Valley High School, but said he had good students and faculty members who kept him engaged in his career.

“I always had a desire to be an administrator,” Young said of the decision to become assistant principal.

However, the role has unique challenges compared to being a teacher.

“It can be overwhelming,” he said. “The community does not understand the responsibility, and I do not take it lightly.”

This heightened level of responsibility can be stressful and demanding, but Young said he has been blessed with a great group of faculty members and students alike.

“It is all about the kids,” he said. “I am going to miss my staff so much, but at the top of the heap are my kids.”

Young said many of the students at Happy Valley come from unstable households, which can present unique problems in trying to get them to learn when they, in many cases, have no desire to do so.

“You have to get to know the kids,” Young said. “You need to spend time with them, and I think I have done that. I have been teaching here for so long, I often know their parents.”

He said the level of connection with students and faculty is what he is going to miss the most about working in the school system.

“That is going to be the hardest,” he said. “It has been a tremendous blessing.”

Reflecting on his more than three decades of teaching, he said he attributed much of his success to God.

“I think you are called to do a job,” Young said. “I thought I was going to be coaching and teaching for a long time. […] The Lord puts you in places to help people.”

Young said his last official day on the job is June 13, a few weeks after the school year ends.

Young said the change from teaching to administrator was a difficult one at first, but it was worth it.

“I thought it would be a lot of fun, and it has,” he said.

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