Pam Hall Sees Potential in Jeff

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.” 

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Hall interacts with students working at the Devil’s Den who sold sweet treats for Valentines Day!

Pam Hall Named Interim Principal at Jeff High

It was announced over the weekend that Pam Hall, current Freshman Academy Principal, will become interim principal at Jeffersonville High School for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Outgoing principal Julie Straight shared the news with faculty and staff via her weekly email newsletter on Sunday night.

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Pam Hall (photo by Paige Moore)

This move is pending board approval on Tuesday, January 14. 

Straight is moving into the position of Academy and CTE (Career and Technical Education) coordinator for Greater Clark County Schools.

Julie Straight Looks Back on Successes, Looks Forward to New Challenges as She Takes on a New Role

It’s a typical Friday night in Johnson Arena. The Jeffersonville Red Devils are taking on the Silver Creek Dragons in a highly anticipated match up. The score is tight as the game is coming down to the wire. The crowd is full and the student sections are roaring back and forth, chanting and taunting. And like so many events at Jeff High, sitting in the upper level watching the school she has been a part of for so many years is Julie Straight. However, something is different about this game. For Straight, it is one of her last as principal of Jeffersonville High School. As the game ends and the crowd fills the gym floor, she looks from the balcony with a smile. And as cheers of “We Are Jeff High” ring out, Straight remarks, “This is what it’s all about: Pride.” 

On Friday, December 20, Greater Clark County Schools announced that Straight would be moving into a new position as Academy and CTE (career and technical educator) coordinator for the district. In this position, she will be taxed with keeping academy curriculum, teachers and opportunities in line with the workforce. Straight believes that her experience in implementing the academy model at Jeff High will help her. “I’ve had all the training…it gives me a great foundation,” she says. 

Straight is excited about the position and believes the job will “present a new challenge” that she has the “skillset to meet.” Straight cited family as the main reason for the move. “I have my first grandbaby coming in March,” she says. “Not living on the Jeff High extracurricular calendar is what I need to do for my family right now.” 

While Straight is excited about her new challenge, she will miss the school she has spent most of her life at as a student, teacher and administrator. “I’ve loved it,” she says. “I don’t regret any of it.”

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Going back to her days as a student and cheerleader, Principal Julie Straight has always represented Jeff High Pride. – Topic Archives photo by Steven Driver

 Straight’s time at Jeff High began many years before becoming principal. A member of the class of 1982, she was always full of spirit and pride in her school as a student. “I loved high school,” she said. Despite this, Straight didn’t know she wanted to become a teacher at the time.

She went to Purdue for engineering, but she soon realized that wasn’t the path for her. She left college and got married, and when she went back to school she knew she wanted to pursue teaching, and she wanted to teach at Jeff High, but it was not her first teaching job.

“It was a hard job market,” says Straight. However, with some experience from teaching summer school, she was able to find an opening at New Washington. There Straight says she learned a lot and gained valuable teaching experience. 

After two years at New Washington, she got a call from Jeff High and soon landed a job at her dream school. She would remain at Jeff for the rest of her teaching career. 

Straight was an English teacher before moving into an administrative role. For Straight, she says “teaching is all about relationships and problem-solving.” She believes that she gained a lot from teaching that has made her a better principal. “I have a deep appreciation for what teachers are doing, all the balls they are juggling,” she says. “It’s very demanding work.”

Straight initially did not intend to move into administration. “I kinda stumbled in,” she said. “When I was getting my masters, I had 2 children, and the classes that were offered when I could take them were administrative classes and I really liked it.” 

Straight had her administrative license for a couple of years before applying for an administrative position, but eventually she “wanted a new challenge.” She interviewed a couple of times, and in 2010 she stepped into the position of assistant principal. 

Two years later, in 2012, there was a lot of movement within the administration, and after a mid-year switch, Straight became interim principal in October. She has held the top job ever since. 

Coming into the job, Straight says her goals were ensuring the highest-quality teachers and creating more pride in what is happening at Jeff. 

Straight is proud of the many improvements she has seen in her time as principal, “We’ve done good work,” she says. This includes the improvement in academic standing, the district-wide PRIDE program, and the hiring of many great teachers who have “embraced the Jeff High family.” However, Straight is proudest of the many “top-notch” opportunities offered at Jeff, both in the classroom and through extracurriculars. “I really believe, especially for a large urban school, we offer more opportunities than any school around,” she says. 

Although she has loved the job, Straight acknowledges the challenges of being a principal. “There are some really tough decisions that have to be made, but kids have to be first, and that makes other things easier,” she says. “We’ve had some situations with students, where their lives were in the balance or the school’s safety was in the balance…But we’ve come through everything.” 

Another challenge of being a principal is time management. “This has not been a job, this has been my life,” says Straight. As the leader of the school, she feels it is her responsibility to attend the events of the school and to understand and know about all the people and activities occurring at Jeff. “You don’t own your calendar… because things happen,” says Straight, “so you have to be flexible.”

And while often it is easy to get bogged down with all the work, it is her Jeff High community that keeps her head up. “I’ve been exposed to so many great things, events, people, life-changing things,” says Straight, “seeing how people care for our kids definitely has made me a better person.” 

Reflecting back, she hopes that people remember she “took a lot of pride in the work and loved it.” Looking forward, she is optimistic, “I truly hope… that [Jeff High] can and will be better,” she says.

Straight says she will miss many moments at Jeff, but most of all she says, “I’ll miss seeing kids every single day.” As she looks to a new challenge, there is one thing that Straight says will always be true, “I am a Red Devil. That will never change.”

Jeff High Principal Julie Straight Moving Into New GCCS Role

On Dec. 20, 2019, Greater Clark County Schools announced that Jeffersonville High School principal Julie Straight will move into a new role overseeing the school district’s Academies in January. The move is pending school board approval.

The school district will name a new interim principal to lead Jeff High.

On the day of the announcement, Principal Straight spoke with The Hyphen about her time leading Jeff High. Subscribe to The Hyphen on WordPress or follow us on Twitter to be notified immediately when this story is posted  

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Principal Straight reacts with joy while watching students and staff play a game at the 2019 fall pep session. Photo by Paige Moore