HHS Principal Bob Cotter announced Monday, May 22 that he will retire at the end of this school year.
“It’s time for you guys to break in somebody new,” he told faculty and staff in a brief after-school meeting.
Even though he is retiring, Cotter said he doesn’t “intend to sit around” and plans to work part-time with the county Department of Education.
He said details about his new position are still being worked out and he will discuss the post once he knows more.
“I know when it’s time to transition into something else,” said Cotter, who has been principal at HHS since the 2014-2015 school year.
He said any decision on a new principal will be up to the superintendent and the school board. “I don’t know of a timeline,” Cotter said.
After the announcement, someone in the audience shouted, “You will be missed!” and the crowd gave Cotter a standing ovation.
He also told staff, “I didn’t make this decision until May 3” and explained after the meeting that was the date he learned about his options to remain with the county in a part-time capacity.
During his tenure, HHS added a new wing for the math department and is about to launch a renovation of the science department. The school won numerous academic achievements under his watch and just this spring, the Tennessee Association of Secondary School Principals named Cotter the 2023 regional winner for Principal of the Year.
He also guided HHS through the COVID-19 pandemic and all the complications that went with it. He told The Ville News a couple years ago that the ordeal was “the most challenging of my 28 years in education.”
Before settling in Middle Tennessee to be closer to family, Cotter and his wife, Jennie, who is a graduate of HHS (class of 1981), lived in Atlanta. He shared the story of the phone call that landed him in Sumner County schools. It came while he was trout fishing on the Caney Fork River and it was about an opportunity to teach history and coach football at Knox Doss Middle School.
“I didn’t know a darn thing about football; I’ve never coached or participated in football a day in my life,” he remembered telling the caller, “But if it means getting this job I’ll learn everything you need me to know.”
Mr. Cotter got that job and several more in Sumner County schools before becoming principal at HHS. He even taught economics at HHS in the 1990s.
He served as an assistant principal at White House Middle and Gallatin High and then as principal of Hawkins Middle and of R.T. Fisher alternative school.
There are also a couple lesser-known roles Mr. Cotter has held, ones he’d probably rather not mention. He was a cheerleader at DuPont Manual High School in Louisville when he was a student there, and after graduating from Western Kentucky University he sold women’s lingerie as a management trainee for the old Upton’s department store chain.
It’s safe to say he’s had an eventful career.
And it isn’t quite over yet.
Arlinda Hisenaj is a journalism student at HHS.