Kingsport City Schools Director of Student Services Tyler Fleming shakes hands with Robinson Principal Richard Everroad during a retirement open house Thursday. Fleming was a former assistant principal at Robinson and worked with Everroad for about eight years. Erica Yoon photo.
KINGSPORT - After 17 years as principal of Ross N. Robinson Middle School, Richard Everroad is heading for a new chapter in his life - retirement.
Those who have worked closely with him over the years say his shoes will be impossible to fill.
"Working with Mr. Everroad for the last 17 years has been a great experience," said Robinson's Assistant Principal Elaine Minton. "He has gone above and beyond to serve the students and staff at Robinson. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such a sincere, dedicated and caring person.
"I know throughout his career he has had to make some tough decisions, but I truly believe he has always had the best interest of the students, staff and school system at heart. I wish Mr. Everroad the best of everything with his retirement. I want him to know, too, that they can hire someone to take his job, but no one can ever take his place."
Everroad grew up in Columbus, Ind., and received his bachelor's degree from Milligan College and his master's degree and educational specialist (Ed.S.) degree from East Tennessee State University.
Everroad said he at first didn't intend to become a teacher or principal.
"My intentions were to be a minister. However, after my freshman year at Milligan, I made the decision to focus on education, as my goal was to work with young people," Everroad said.
Since beginning his career with Kingsport City Schools, he has worked in a variety of capacities from teacher to coach and assistant principal to principal.
He began as a teacher at John Sevier Middle School (formerly Sevier Junior High School) and spent 18 years there teaching health and physical education before moving into administration. Everroad then spent five years as principal of Washington Elementary School before becoming principal of Robinson in 1990.
He said some of the highlights of his career with KCS have been creating new programs and working daily to provide a welcoming and safe environment for students and staff.
Robinson staff say his character and the sense of responsibility that Everroad tried to pass on to his students will be his lasting legacy even after retirement.
"Even when he is gone, I think I will continue to hear his voice say, ‘Do the right thing,' as he so often said to the many students he would pass in the hallway," said administrative assistant Vicki Clevinger. "He made it a priority to be where the students were so they would know he supported them. He would be present at athletic events, school dances and extracurricular activities, not to mention being visible in the cafeteria, the gym and in the hallway. I once heard a student begrudgingly say, ‘He's everywhere,' and that he was.
"In every sense of the word, Mr. Rick Everroad was a leader for Robinson Middle School, its teachers, its students and its staff."
After his retirement becomes official, Everroad looks forward to spending time with his family - Toni, his wife of 40 years, and his two daughters Sonya and Wendy. Both daughters are teachers, one at Dobyns-Bennett and one in Memphis. He also hopes to perhaps do some recreational coaching, travel, work around his house, and play his African drums.
The decision to retire, he said, was one of the most difficult choices he's ever had to make.
"To serve this community has been my pleasure and my blessing," Everroad said. "I am going to miss the young people and the people I have grown to admire and love. I wish everyone well as they continue to learn and grow."