Tommy Hall’s mother wanted him to be a dentist, and, academically, Hall was headed that way. That is until one day he realized he didn’t want to spend his life looking in people’s mouths.
Hall’s choice was to be a teacher and coach, a career he pursued, he said, and never looked back.
Hall is retiring this year after a 39-year career in education, the last 17 of which he’s spent as superintendent at Brookesmith.
“It’s been a good career, a good run,” Hall said. “I’ve liked it, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been really rewarding.”
He’s proud of the accomplishments at Brookesmith, he said. When he came, hardly any — if any at all — of the school’s graduates were college bound. Now, he said, at least 90 percent go on to college or post high school study or training.
“When I came to Brookesmith . . . I told the board I wanted to turn things around, I was going to be committed to that and if that’s not what they wanted, this wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Hall said.
He got the full board support and with their complete blessing, he said, he updated the curriculum and went after technology and other grants for the school. Since he’s been at Brookesmith, the district’s built a new high school, elementary school and gym.
“We’ve bought six busses in six years,” Hall said, “I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot.”
When this year’s senior class graduates, it will be the third class Hall’s seen start kindergarten and graduate high school having spent all 13 years in school with Hall as their superintendent.
“The thanks an educator . . . a teacher, coach or administrator gets is to see what kids become, what kids do with their lives. People tend to flow to where they fit in, and if you make the school a good place, everybody benefits,” Hall said.
“Nothing makes me happier than to have a former student come up to me, and tell me what they’re doing now and that they appreciate their education.”
Hall attended Schreiner College, University of Texas and Howard Payne, but he graduated from Angelo State College in 1967, with the college’s first class of four-year graduates. Married to his high school sweetheart, Bertha, Hall was working at a bank in San Angelo part time, while going to school.
It was in the San Angelo paper he saw a job advertised for an English teacher in Sanderson, in West Texas and he applied for the job. When he went on the interview and learned he could also be the assistant football and basketball coach, the remote West Texas town suddenly became the ideal location.
The Halls spent four years in Sanderson, four years at Early, then 16 at Angleton. Certified to teach English and history, and coach, Angleton was “a good place to be” Hall said. But when their older son got old enough to play basketball, Hall decided to fast track to administration.
“I knew I could handle him playing for me,” Hall said. “I didn’t think I could handle his mother though.”
As principal at the high school, Hall said he achieved a truly proud moment in his career.
“Three of my kids were at West Point at the same time and graduated,” Hall said. “I had the admiral come to our board meeting and give me a plaque of recognition. No other high school had three kids there like that.”
Originally from Brady and Rochelle, Hall said he and Bertha started looking for a place or jobs nearer “home” and the Brookesmith position was ideal. Though he’ll retire, he said, Bertha has a few more years to teach, before she’s ready. They have a ranch between Brookesmith and Brady.
“So I’m not going too far,” he said. “We’re here. This is home.”