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A high school named for a familiar person will be headed by a principal with a familiar name.
Anthony Hatchell, who left Shelby County to pursue athletics and education, will return next month as the first principal of the new Martha Layne Collins High School.
Hatchell, an educator for more than 30 years who has spent the past four as principal of Mayfield High School in western Kentucky, said he is excited to be coming home to the county where his parents and sister still live.
“This is quite an opportunity to be going to a new high school and try to build new traditions,” Hatchell said from his office Thursday morning. “As an old Shelby County Rocket, I know the tradition there, and it will be fun to try to build it at the new school.”
Hatchell graduated in 1974, where he was a standout football player. He went on to play for Georgetown College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He began his career in 1978 at Franklin County and served as the head football coach at Henry County and Anderson County High Schools. He has served in a variety of administrative roles during his career.
“His knowledge of instruction, improving student achievement and keeping kids as the focus is exactly what I was looking for in an individual to open our second high school,” Superintendent James Neihof said in a statement. “This is a major undertaking for Shelby County Public Schools, and we’re excited to lure a Shelby County graduate back to begin this new era.”
Hatchell, who also has earned advanced degrees from Eastern Kentucky and Murray State Universities, said his career has been blessed with “a lot of great opportunities.”
Since he took over at Mayfield in 2005, his students have record the highest state scores in the ACT for two of the four years, and he said in a statement that his graduates have averaged $15,000 in college scholarships.
He also has employed at Mayfield the Professional Learning Community development program that is being implemented by Shelby County Public Schools.
“Those are identical areas under way here, so Hatchell is a perfect match to step right in with other administrators and become a part of our team,” Neihof said in his statement.
Hatchell will start Aug. 3 and have a year to complete every phase of Collins, which will be a 5-year high school and is scheduled to open in August 2010. His job won’t be small, but then Hatchell, a former offensive lineman, isn’t small either.
“I will sit down in the next few weeks with Mr. Neihof and Mr. [Gary] Kidwell [assistant superintendent] and create a task list of everything we have to do and then sort of decide who is going to do what,” he said.
One thing he does know he will be doing is moving his wife, Cindy, a teacher, and their three sons and daughter back to the soil where he grew up and where he has visited often since.
Hatchell said he has driven past the new Collins campus off U.S. 60 west of Shelbyville but not been back to the see the building. “They won’t let you on the property,” he said.
That will change soon.