Bill Locke retires following 44 years in education

Bill Locke is retiring this year following 44 years of education, with 38 of those years having been spent in Robertson County.

Locke, the school district’s supervisor of secondary education, curriculum and instruction, was born and raised in Robertson County.

In 1971, he graduated from East Robertson High School in Cross Plains and continued his education at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) where he received a degree in education, with a minor in biology.

Locke said he took the first teaching and football coach job offered to him, which was at Connelly Junior High School in Marshall County. He spent the first four years of his career at the school.

“I was influenced by my high school coach and thought that coaching was what I wanted to do and the direction I was wanting to go,” Locke said.  “In the fall of 1979, I came back to Robertson County as an assistant football coach at Greenbrier High School.”

He taught science, biology and history while coaching and spent time as the head football coach at East Robertson High School and at White House High School in Sumner County before being hired at Springfield Middle School in the fall of 1987 to teach science while also assisting as a coach in the Springfield High School football program.

“I was the assistant coach at Springfield High School for six years,” Locke said.

During his early teaching and coaching years, Locke said he had also been working on his master’s and doctorate degrees in administration and supervision for Tennessee State University.  

“I had been teaching and coaching for 18 years,” Lock said. “I was wanting to get into the administrative area of education. I received my master’s degree in 1988 and my doctorate in 1994.”

In the mid-90s, after spending one year as the assistant principal of Springfield Middle School, Locke was named principal there.

In 2003, Locke moved into the principal position at Jo Byrns School, which was a K12 school.

“In my fourth year at Jo Byrns, the school split once the elementary school was built,” Locke said. “Jo Byrns School became Jo Byrns High School, serving grades six through 12.”

In 2007, Locke was hired into the position he currently holds as Supervisor of Secondary Education, Curriculum and Instruction, dealing with high schools in the district.

He is married to Sheila Locke. They have one daughter, Hannah Thomas who teaches history and works with the Mock Trial team at Springfield High School. She and her husband Dustin Thomas have a three-year-old daughter, Kloe.

“I’ve worked with some wonderful administrators through the years,” Locke said. “I’ve had a lot of help from some awfully good administrators when I was a teacher, an assistant principal and then a principal. It takes a team effort. I’ve always been surrounded by people who were top quality individuals.”

Following his retirement, Locke said he will most miss the people with whom he works. He will also miss his interaction with students.

“I’m going to miss seeing the students receive the scholarships, such as the HOPE scholarship, at graduation,” Locke said. “It is very rewarding to see the work our teachers and principals are doing each and every day to prepare the kids.”

Locke said he will likely continue working as an adjunct professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville and Union University in Hendersonville following his retirement from the district.

Looking over the many positions throughout his 44-year span, Locke said he has never dreaded getting up and going to work.

“I just can’t think of a time that I did not enjoy it,” Locke said. “The worst day however, was the morning of 9/11. I was at Springfield Middle School then and recall parents coming in to pick up their kids, not knowing how widespread (the terrorism) was going to be. People just wanted their children close to them. It was such a sad day. I don’t think I will ever forget it.”

Locke said during his years of teaching and coaching, he really enjoyed the years he spent at Springfield Middle School and serving as an assistant coach for Springfield High School.

“I got to work with some guys who were real good friends,” Locke said. “Our coaching staff really had a good chemistry and we remain friends. We happened to coach when there was a very good quality of young men who wanted to play football.”

Locke laughingly tells of the year he and the head football coach became administrators and quit coaching.

“That was Randy Thomas’ first year of becoming head coach,” Locke said. “His very first year, they became the state champions the season after I quit.”

Other football coaching staff members included Greg Bell who later became the assistant principal at Springfield High School and also Raymond Woodard, who retired from the district two years ago.

“We all got along working together and everyone was coaching what they wanted to coach,” Locke said.

Locke continues to keep up with some of the football team members through social media and said he enjoys seeing them working in the community of Robertson County.

“When I see them, they still call me ‘Coach,’” Locke said. “That’s a good feeling and that’s fine with me.”

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