Tenn. principal honored for 50 years of educating, coaching students

(Photo: WKRN)

CANNON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – He’s had five decades of educating thousands of students, and a Cannon County educator is still shaping the minds of young people.

Friday it was the principal who was put in the hot seat and honored for his many years of service.

When you first enter the hallways of Short Mountain Elementary School in Woodbury, you’ll quickly realize there is something special here.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“Hello, hello,” Principal Robert Pitts said as he greeted a second grade class.

Principal Pitts is known and loved by all, and his credentials as an educator are not bad either.

“50 years,” Pitts said while laughing. “I’ve enjoyed all of them.”

Five decades of serving as teacher, coach and principal. Many of his former students are now teachers and working for him.

“I always respected Mr. Pitts. He’s an amazing man. He works hard. He’s always done the right thing, no matter what,” teacher Susan Nokes said.

Friday morning, the Hilton Stone American Legion Post 279 honored the long-time educator with a plaque for all to see as they enter the school.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“You talk to him and you can tell he loves kids and he’s concerned about their education,” Post 279 member John Baysinger said. “Every county needed a Mr. Pitts.”

Post 279 also dedicated another gift to the school–a brand new flag pole and flag.

“American Legions is very concerned about how flags are displayed,” Baysinger said.

The old flag pole was broken, but Principal Pitts was determined to fly Old Glory. He attached it to a light pole held up by a chain.

“Got me a tall ladder and climbed up there and made me a makeshift flag there because I believe a flag should fly over a school,” the longtime principal said.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

The old flag will now be coming down to be replaced with the new.

Pitts started teaching in 1967, and as much as he looks forward to one day retiring, he said that won’t be anytime soon.

“It’s hard to say, I just take it from one year to the next,” Pitts said.

Fifty years later, he’s still encouraging kids to dedicate themselves and work as hard as they can, but this day of honors was too much for him as his eyes began to sweat a little.

“This is an emotional time, I tell you. I’m overwhelmed, I never dreamed it would be this elaborate,” Pitts said with tears forming in his eyes. “It’s nice, very nice, makes those 50 years well worth it.”

Pitts has been principal of Short Mountain Elementary for 13 years now. He also worked in the Cannon County Central office and won several county championships as a boys’ basketball coach.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)