The Clyde W. Smith Jr. Leadership Award has come full circle.
Dr. Wayland Long, the longtime former director of personnel for Tullahoma City Schools, will receive the award he helped co-create at the Oct. 21 meeting of the TCS Board of Education.
The school board voted unanimously to name Long and his wife, Yvonne, a former longtime art teacher for the district, the award recipients for 2019 – seven years after Long co-created the award.
About the award
The Clyde W. Smith Jr. Leadership Award was created by Long and former school board member Vickie Shelton in 2012.
Named for the former school board chairman, the award recognizes individuals with strong ties to the community and its education.
Smith, who died in 2010, spent 21 years as a school board member, and his continued commitment to educational excellence deserved to be memorialized annually, according to comments made by Long in 2012.
“Mr. Smith cared more about the advancement of quality education in Tullahoma than most citizens will ever know,” Shelton said in 2012. “You could not escape Clyde Smith’s infectious enthusiasm. His presence created a dynamic that was a type of gravitational force.”
In its first year, the award went to seven people, each one nominated by a member of the school board in that year. The following year saw five people recognized.
After that, the school board made the decision to limit the number of recipients to one or two in a couple.
According to Pat Welsh, the school board chairman, both Longs were “tremendous employees” in their capacities with Tullahoma City Schools.
Wayland began his tenure with the school system as a teacher and a coach at the old West Middle School, Welsh said, before moving up the ladder into the administration office as director of personnel. He even served as the interim superintendent for a time while the district looked for a replacement for former superintendent Dr. Don Embry in 1997.
He spent seven years at West Middle School as an English and social studies teacher, basketball coach and assistant football coach. He also spent seven years at Tullahoma High School teaching and being a ninth-grade basketball coach before being named assistant principal in 1981.
He was promoted to personnel director four years later in 1985.
Yvonne, according to Welsh, was a longtime grade school art teacher. She served as the school district’s only elementary art teacher for several years before being assigned to the West side schools, Bel-Aire and Farrar Elementary schools.
According to a former colleague and longtime friend of Yvonne, Lucy Majors, she is “the most delightful and upbeat person you could possibly know.”
Majors said one of the more “particularly striking” things about Yvonne was her approach to teaching art history, which set her apart from other art teachers.
“She wrote lyrics to familiar songs that [would allow] kids to remember things about…the cave paintings at Lascaux and things like that,” she said. Yvonne would then have her students create their own cave paintings in class.
“She looked for different ways to see if she could market it, because it was so successful,” she said. “It was a great way to engage kids. She had the complete package.”
Not only was Yvonne an asset in the classroom, Majors said. She was also a great resource for people needing calligraphy work.
“She could do calligraphy as well as anybody,” Majors said. “It would just flow from her. It was absolutely beautiful. She was ever so generous about any time somebody would ask her to do certificates.”
According to Majors, battling several health issues hasn’t slowed Yvonne down much at all, if any. While she is currently battling Parkinson’s disease, Yvonne is still painting, Majors said.
“She is still creating wonderful, colorful, imaginative paintings,” she said.
Yvonne is also an avid bridge player, according to Majors, and brings a “wonderful” spread for lunch whenever she can.
Honoring the Longs
A reception for the Longs will be held at 5 p.m. at Tullahoma High School, 927 N. Jackson St. The regular meeting will follow immediately after in the THS Lecture Hall, according to school board officials. The public is invited to attend to honor the Longs and their dedication to the students of Tullahoma.
Erin McCullough may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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