Four More HCEF Education Hall of Famers Inducted - TribPapers

Four More HCEF Education Hall of Famers Inducted

Hall of Fame inductees Gary Rivers, at left, and Dean Jones, flank fellow retired coach Wade King. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Hendersonville – Four individuals were inducted at the Henderson County Education Foundation’s banquet on April 30 at Jeter Mountain Farm. Two of them coached high school athletes and later became administrators, while the other two coached fellow teachers. HCEF Executive Director Peggy Marshall praised the inductees for their outstanding contributions to education in Henderson County. Each inductee underwent interviews that were carefully screened.

Dean Jones

Dean Jones was a coach and administrator at West and East Henderson high schools. He first coached at Flat Rock Junior High. He coached East Henderson baseball, then West Falcon football starting in 1998. “Hard work and teamwork” are his code words.

Jones was East’s athletic director and an assistant principal, starting in 2004. He got new football locker and weight rooms, and improved the baseball field.

He then served as West’s principal in 2007-16. He oversaw a comprehensive Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum, and a rise in academic test scores and in the arts.

Jones said in his video that he aimed to “lead and manage others.” He wanted to “make a connection” and “find common ground” with those he oversaw. He gave in to Falcon football players’ insistence, running a snazzier play that scored the winning TD (by Kevin Allen) versus Brevard.

Dr. Brandon Schweitzer (West Class of 2002) was a bullish 6-3, 250-pound champion wrestler. He was a Shrine Bowl fullback, who played for Jones and USC Gamecocks. Now Polk County Schools’ operations director. Schweitzer calls Dean Jones a “treasure trove of life lessons. He’s a man of principles and character.”

Gary Rivers

Gary Rivers and his late mother, teacher Ruby Rivers, are the Education Hall of Fame’s first two-generation inductees.

In 1975, Gary became the first black athlete to sign with the University of Tennessee baseball program. He also made his mark as a Hendersonville High School ballplayer, 1990 state champion head baseball coach, Blue Ridge Community College athletic director and its director of Minority Services.

He joined BRCC in 2007. His “Tea with G” (Gary) events provided open dialogue for minority BRCC students. He organized an MLK breakfast fundraiser for minority scholarships.

Like Dean Jones, Coach Rivers expected much. Blair Craven recalled he “just stared” at players who goofed up.

Rivers advises young people today to “work hard, set goals, and live them out,” he told the Tribune. He challenged HHS star OF Quincy Foster to “see if you can play’” at a higher level. Foster did. The superb base stealer played five games for the MLB Marlins in 2000.

Rivers was an HHS P.E. teacher in 1984-99, and a counselor. He taught black history. He lived it. When in second grade in 1965-66, Rivers was among first blacks to attend Bruce Drysdale School.

Ruby and Gary Rivers co-initiated Youth Academic Enhancement (YAE) Program tutoring, and Project Edge with $250,000 from General Electric. Gary helped reduce student drop-outs.

School Board member Craven credits Rivers as among his few “positive black role models in my life — a sentiment echoed by many of my peers at the time.”

Hilda Hamilton

Hamilton helped other local teachers improve. She was among the first National Board-certified teachers in the nation. She was certified in November, 1994 in the first candidacy trial. She and Lynn Davis Carter mentored other teachers about seeking certification, such as by teaching a workshop. The local district’s teachers had a 70 percent certification passing rate, which far exceeded the 40 percent nationwide.

Hamilton was an instructional coach at East Henderson and Hendersonville high schools and Balfour Elementary. She taught math, algebra and science at Rugby Middle. She tutored students.

Former patients describe her as “patient and understanding. Hamilton quipped in her video that “most people are driven crazy” by middle schoolers. Yet “I like kids, and teaching and planning” lesson plans.

Cindy Ellis

Cindy Ellis also coached other local teachers, doing so for eight years. Later, as Sugarloaf Elementary’s assistant principal and a lead teacher, she helped usher in Leader in Me special instruction when it was new locally. Before that, she was the Bruce Drysdale curriculum specialist for six years. She taught math and science. She first taught locally at Marlow Elementary.

She was one of the first three HCPS elementary instructional coaches. She set still-applicable milestones for instructional coaches. She created the Beginning Teacher Initiative for first-year instructors. Ellis helped write and implement benchmark assessments for grades 3-5. Her Developing Mathematical Ideas class for teachers centered on math-building systems of tens. It’s hailed as “cutting-edge math professional development.”

Ellis said that she wanted math “taught in a different way,” to enhance learning. She wanted students to “thrive and be their best.” Recently-retired Upward Elementary teacher Marcie Burdette said she’d wonder, “How would Cindy teach this?”

To learn more about the HCEF Education Hall of Fame, including past inductees, check