Four veteran Hoover school administrators have decided to retire.
Melody Greene, a longtime Hoover educator who has been an assistant superintendent the past three years, had her last official day on May 31.
Carol Barber, who spent 18 years as principal at Simmons Middle School, 5½ years as assistant superintendent and the past 3½ years as principal at Trace Crossings Elementary, set her retirement date as July 1.
Charles Butler, who spent the past nine years as an assistant principal at Hoover High School, also is retiring effective July 1.
And Kathy Wheaton, who spent 18 years as principal at Berry Middle School and the past three years as principal at Greystone Elementary, is retiring Sept. 1.
Together, the four administrators have more than 140 years in education.
Greene said she started teaching when she was 21 and is turning 60 this year and decided to invest her time differently.
The time demands of an assistant superintendent job are massive, and she’s ready to spend more time with her family, including four children and 12 grandchildren, she said.
“To everything, there is a season,” Greene said. “I believe my season here is done.”
Greene, who graduated from the former Berry High School, started her teaching career at John Carroll Catholic High School and stayed there two years. She then filled in for a teacher at Berry High for a year before taking seven years off to raise young children at home.
In the fall of 1988, just as Hoover opened its own school system, she came back to teach English and literature at Berry. Berry transformed into Hoover High School in 1994, and Greene continued at Hoover until 2006. She served as director of the Hoover High International Baccalaureate program from 2001 to 2006.
She then worked five years as an assistant principal at Pelham High School and one year as an assistant principal at Spain Park High School before being pulled to work in the central office in November 2012. She officially became assistant superintendent in July 2013.
As assistant superintendent for administration, she is the “office of complaints and problems,” she said. “I like solving problems. I like helping get things back in order and finding positive solutions, even if they don’t make everybody happy.”
She has been blessed to do a little bit of everything in her career and has loved working for Hoover City Schools, she said. She’ll miss the friends she has made and miss contributing because she believes in the power of education, she said.
In retirement, she wants to teach at the Sunshine School at Children’s Hospital, which helps children keep up with their education while in the hospital. One of her grandsons had cancer, and she knows how much of a struggle it is, she said.
She also hopes to travel with her husband, Hoover Councilman John Greene, who supported her greatly over the years, she said.
Barber has been with Hoover City Schools since the system began in 1988. She worked a year as director of curriculum and instruction and then 18 years as principal at Simmons Middle School, where she was named a Middle School Principal of the Year for Alabama.
She was promoted to assistant superintendent in 2007 and served in the central office for 5½ years. She came to Trace Crossings as principal in November 2012.
Barber said at the time she was moving to Trace Crossings to help resolve strife, low morale among the faculty and a negative culture at the school, which had become the heart of the debate about school test scores and rezoning. She said the school is in a much better place now.
“It’s a very strong staff” that has played a leading part in some of the educational movements in Alabama toward project-based learning and innovative instruction in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, she said.
“There are some outstanding teachers in this building,” she said. “You just have to get out of their way and let them do their job.”
Personally, Barber said she is ready to devote more time to her family. She has a daughter in Virginia who just gave birth to Barber’s second grandchild, and she wants to spend more time with them, she said.
She has “loved every single day” of her 49 years in education, she said. “I have enjoyed not only what I do, but the people with whom I’ve had the privilege of working,” she said.
Before coming to Hoover, Barber served as a classroom teacher in Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Kansas, a central office administrator, principal and teacher in Colorado, and the director of elementary education in Portsmouth, Virginia.
While she spent many years at a middle school in Hoover, her first teaching assignment and first administrative assignment both were in elementary schools, and it’s fitting that she end her career in an elementary school, she said. Her best memories are of times working directly with students and teachers, she said.
“I love being around the children,” Barber said. “I like being in an environment where you can have that daily contact with kids.”
Butler started his education career as a teacher at Pelham High School. After seven years in the classroom, he spent four years as an assistant principal at Montevallo High School before coming to Hoover High in August 2007.
Butler started out as the assistant principal overseeing the sophomore class but more recently has been in charge of career tech opportunities, including all the career academies, the family and consumer science program, television and broadcast program and work-based learning, commonly known as co-op education.
When asked why he is retiring, Butler said, “Sometimes you just know when it’s time. I just felt like I need to do something different.”
The most rewarding aspect of his job has been seeing students grow and develop into young men and women and develop skills that will make them successful in life, he said. He especially has enjoyed working with students who do not want to go to college and those who don’t believe they can do something and find out that they can, he said.
“I just want all the kids to be able to do well,” he said.
Butler said he’s not yet sure what he’ll do in retirement, but he may volunteer to read to young students. “I just want to do something to give back to students,” he said.
Wheaton is completing her 42nd year in education. She, too, got her start in an elementary school, as a substitute teacher in second and third grades in Portsmouth, Virginia, she said.
She started teaching in Portsmouth City Schools in 1974 and spent one year as an assistant principal in a junior high school before coming to serve as an assistant principal at Berry High School when Hoover formed its own school system in 1988. She made the transition to the new Hoover High School when it opened in 1994 and was named principal of Berry Middle School when it opened in 1995.
She remained as principal at Berry for 18 years until being asked to take over at Greystone Elementary three years ago. Leaving Berry was not easy for her because of the many relationships she had built over the years, but Wheaton answered the call.
She said people at Greystone have been kind and welcoming to her and it has been a wonderful experience. It’s just time to move on to the next phase of her life, she said.
“I’ve been very, very blessed. I’ve had a wonderful career, outstanding opportunities,” she said. “It’s just time to go and let the next generation have it.”
Retiring was not an easy decision, she said. “It took me a while to get here.”
Her fondest memories have been hearing from former students about how something she did made a difference in their lives, she said.
She also has enjoyed hearing stories from parents and grandparents about how children she taught or led have accomplished various things, she said. Some of them had a tough time and found their way, while others always had a dream and were able to follow it through, she said.
A lot of her best memories are the little things, such as students at Berry lining up to form a giant ribbon to show support for people dealing with breast cancer, she said. On the last day of school this year, the entire student body at Greystone gathered in the lobby area to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and recite the Pledge of Allegiance together — another special moment, she said.
Those times where students and faculty come together with a common bond mean a lot, she said.