Mr. Joe Shafer served as the first principal of Gallatin Junior High School from 1963 to 1973. During his career he also served as principal of Guild Elementary, White House High, and Trousdale County High. Mr. Shafer was truly a worthy role model for students, parents, and teachers to follow. He quietly did many good deeds for the school without bringing attention to himself. Mr. Shafer worked individually with teachers and students encouraging and helping them when needed. The neatness and cleanliness of the school were very important to him.
David Shafer Remembers his Dad
My Mom and Dad have a combined experience equating to three-quarters of a century in the education profession. Ever since I can remember, my Dad was a coach or principal and Mom was guidance counselor, teacher, or substitute teacher. Dad was a strict disciplinarian but he was fair and compassionate. He demanded a lot from his teachers and students and got it. In return, his teachers knew they would always have a safe, clean classroom in which to teach. Teachers and students knew where they stood with his. "Just good enough" was not OK with him. He always wanted the best one could give. If a "C" average was the very best you could do, then he was satisfied. He was also a caring principal. More than once I can remember my Mom rummaging through my closet. When I questioned what she was doing with some of my favorite old shirts and blue jeans, she would tell me that one of Dad's students needed them more than I did. I guess I learned a lot about giving from those types of experiences.
Before I ever set foot in 7th grade, everybody knew who I was. I was the principal's kid. About the only advantage to being the PK was when I would forget my lunch money I could run down to Dad's office and bum a dollar. I knew I could never get away with anything. If I got in trouble at school, I would catch it when I got home as well. I remember when Dad was principal at GMS, he had red lights installed in the lunchroom. When the noise got to be too loud, the teacher on duty would turn on the red light and one kid who was eating a Popsicle kept talking to his friend. Upset, Dad grabbed the Popsicle from the kid, threw it across the lunchroom, and hit the trash can "dead on". Everyone including the janitor by the trash can was amazed. Then he reached into his pocket and gave the kid a dime for the Popsicle.
School was not my favorite thing in life. However, I realize now what seemed to be just a bunch of stuff to learn for a test was the foundation for my life experiences. I can deliver a speech and never say "uh" because my speech and drama teacher in 10th and 11th grades taught me how to speak effectively when addressing a public gathering. I can name all fifty states and their capitols because my 8th grade geography teacher made me learn them. I was not the most intellectual student. Learning was not a snap for me and I was jealous of those that could pick up things easily. I recall 7th grade math was not the easiest subject in the world. I, like many others, was struggling with the new math. Fortunately, my math teacher, Ralph Brazel, stayed after school on his own time to help those of us that were having trouble. I had some tough teachers.
I had a 7th grade history teacher whose tests would consist of only 5 questions. You would write everything you could think of about what you had learned in the previous quarter in one hour. I know more about U.S. history and Tennessee history, how government works, and how to make changes in congressional agenda now thanks to Benny Bills. (Note: Mr. Bills is now Director of Sumner County Schools.) I can write operating manuals and business letters knowing that the punctuation and word structure is correct because I had a 10th grade English teacher who would give me an F for putting a comma in the wrong place. So, I quickly learned where to put commas. Perhaps it was luck that I had so many good and caring teachers as I was growing up. I prefer to think of them as professional educators doing what they chose to do and what they do best. Maybe they knew I shunned what I was taught as being insignificant, but they also knew that some day I would benefit from the knowledge I gained from them. A great school is not just a nice new building. A school is great because of its faculty and staff. I was fortunate in that I had many excellent teachers during my schooling that genuinely cared about me and my performance.