After graduating from Jeffersonville High School in the class of 1989, Pam Hall “had no desire to ever step foot in a school again.” Now more than 30 years later, she walks the halls with a new title: interim principal. Her move into the interim principal role was approved by the school board on Jan. 14, 2020.
Although Hall has more than 25 years of teaching experience, her introduction to teaching came by chance. Hall was playing college basketball when she ruptured her Achilles tendon, and she chose to take a red shirt year (a year off from athletics, allowing one more year of eligibility). “I had to find something else to do, so I started taking education classes,” she says. Despite this, Hall still didn’t have her eye on teaching. She wanted to coach.
Out of college, she was hired as head basketball coach at Providence High School, and the school also hired her to work in the school. This was when she found her love for education. After 10 years of working at Providence, Hall says she was “ready for a new challenge.” She found this at Parkview Middle School. At Parkview, Hall worked in special education, specifically with students with behavioral problems. She loved the job, and she was content to stay in this position for her career. However,administrators saw potential in Hall, and after 10 years of working in this position, she was made Behavior Coordinator. Hall says she “loved every minute of it.”
During her time at Parkview, she worked under principal Mark Laughner, who is now superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools.“He had a way about him of encouraging you to take risks in the classroom and with your students,” says Hall. And after 13 years at Parkview, Hall was set to follow Laughner into administration at Charlestown High School.
However, before she entered the job, she was offered a position she couldn’t turn down: an assistant principal’s job at her alma mater, Jeffersonville High School. “I couldn’t tell you how thrilled I was,” says Hall. Despite her excitement, she was upset to leave her favorite boss. “I love working for Mr. Laughner. But my heart is Jeff, I want to be at Jeff, I want to work with Jeff kids,” says Hall.
Hall’s fight for Jeff started earlier than most. “For me, I had to fight my parents to come here because all my family went to Catholic schools,” she says. “But I knew I wanted to be a Red Devil… I knew I wanted to play basketball here at Jeff,” she says. Hall’s passion and love for education stem from her passion and love for Jeffersonville. When Hall moved from Providence to Parkview, she was searching for a new challenge — and she found it in a community she loves. “I think the biggest difference is, here at Jeff, we have Jeff kids,” says Hall, “If you look at our staff, how many people are Jeff graduates, and choose to come back.”
Coming from a Catholic school, Hall says it “makes me appreciate the diversity at Jeff.” And what others may see as challenges, Hall embraces. “The challenges here, that private schools and other schools in affluent areas, like Floyd Central, they kinda maybe snub their nose at it,” she says, “but we embrace it. This is who we are. We’re proud of it.”
During the two and half years Hall as Freshman Academy Principal at Jeff High, her love for the school only grew. And when former principal Julie Straight left, Hall let her know she was interested in the job. On January 14, one month after Straight announced she would be leaving, Hall was named interim principal of Jeffersonville High School.
Looking forward, Hall believes she is ready to take on the job. “I have a certain directness,” says Hall, “I don’t necessarily believe in a lot of fluff. I’m just, it’s point A to point B and how do we get there?” She knows this directness will be needed to succeed at this job. This directness is seen by other teachers and students around the school as an asset. Hall credits this trait to her athletics. “I think being an athlete has done that. It gives you a skill set that maybe people who aren’t involved don’t,” she says. Hall not only enjoyed basketball, but she also had to play for her future. “When I grew up we didn’t have a lot of money,” she says, “So the only way I was going to go to college was I had to play basketball.” This is where she believes her hard work and tenacity was born.
Thinking back to her days at Parkview, Hall recalls being known as tough, yet always wanting the best for students. “I’m going to tell you what you need to hear,” she says, “but at the end of the day, I’m also going to put my arm around you and tell you it’s alright, and tomorrow is a new day.” Hall hopes to continue building these strong relationships with students at Jeff.
Hall’s goal this year is to continue the work of Mrs. Straight. But looking past this year, Hall hopes to change the school’s perception. She hopes when people are moving to Southern Indiana, they want to live in Jeffersonville so they can send their children to Jeffersonville High School. “If we can achieve that, we will have taken care of everything,” says Hall. For Hall, this goal is her passion. “For people who have never been outside of Jeff, maybe they don’t see how other people view us,” she says, “That for me has been the driving force. I want to help embrace who we are, but also I want to change it… Embracing who we are and showcasing the great things.”
While Hall admires Straight, she acknowledges the difference in their management styles. “Mrs. Straight and I joke about that all the time. Because we are very different,” says Hall. “I think we complement each other very well. I’m sort of the I’m going to come in and kick the door down and that’s how we’re going to go. Whereas she is more diplomatic.”
Looking forward to her time as principal, Hall says, “I could take a few lessons from her.” Hall has loved working for Straight. “I have no doubt we are watching our greatest Red Devil walk out the door,” she says, “I don’t know that anyone has given more to this school.” Hall is also excited for Straight with her new position. She believes she will still be able to serve her school saying, “There are many opportunities on the horizon.”
After many years in education, Hall says, “This isn’t a job, this is who I am.” And it’s simple what keeps her going, “The kids,” she says, “Every day when I walk down the hallway, there are 2,000 reminders of why I do this.”
Hall interacts with students working at the Devil’s Den who sold sweet treats for Valentines Day!