By Pete Zamplas- Leaders, molders and financiers of youth were honored last week as the five newest inductees into the Henderson County Education Foundation’s Education Hall of Fame.
They are inspiring coaching legends Jan Stanley and Lemuel Jones, innovative principals Joe Tamer and Virginia Thompson, and go-getter Dr. Don Jones who greatly expanded HCEF revenue and scholarships.
By now, HCEF provides over $140,000 a year in college scholarships, $150,000 to schools for Leader in Me training and $360,000 total, Exec. Dir. Summer Stipe told about 300 people in Education Celebration Presented by Advent Health.
The induction banquet was at Jeter Mountain Farm in Crab Creek. Assoc. Supt. Dr. John Bryant was the witty master of ceremonies.
In 17 years starting in 2003, 129 retired local educators have been inducted into the hall. The career awards are for “measurable influence or made significant contributions to the grown and development of education” in this county. Stipe stated, “We are so excited to induct five incredible individuals…”
The first face chiseled onto any Mt. Rushmore-like cathedral to local coaches is bound to be that of Jan Erickson Stanley. She was West Henderson volleyball coach, starting that program in fall of 1975. She won five state titles (’90, ’91, ’03, ’04, ’08), and conference crowns in 30 of her 35 seasons. Bryant quipped that when he wondered how many state titles Stanley won in her career, he was told “we stopped counting.”
Stanley notched West’s first state title in a team sport, in ’90, then another in basketball a few months later.
The 1971 Hendersonville High School (HHS) grad is in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame and WNC Sports Hall of Fame. She was National High School Coaches’ Association volleyball coach of the year for 2008 and iis local Kiwanis’ first coaching Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. She set a career volleyball win total, was 698-116 (.857), and averaged nearly 20 wins.
“Pride!” was among her players’ battle cries, in breaking huddles. Josie Youngblood Sidhu, who went on to play pro beach volleyball, credits Coach Stanley’s tough love. “They willed themselves to win,” said former West principal Dean Jones. “She is the consummate professional.”
Jan’s daughter Tiffany Lowrance has carried on the pedigree, as head coach for this entire decade after eight years as Jan’s assistant. West won the elite WMAC’s latest (in ’18) titles in both the regular season and tournament, then won four playoff rounds to reach the regional final.
Jan’s husband Paul Stanley and their son Jason Stanley have helped coach varsity football at HHS, where youngest daughter Brooke Stanley coached volleyball. Brooke was a star setter for West in 2003-06, sparking two state title squads.
Jan Stanley has told The Tribune about her players and P.E.-health students, that “the girls have a special place in my heart.” In her acceptance video, she said it was rewarding to “watch them grow” and “live their lives in a great way.”
Lemuel Carl Jones is another coach with a legion of grateful former players. He coached football and basketball at all-black, tri-county Ninth Avenue School in Hendersonville in 1962-65, and later for 15 years at integrated Hendersonville Junior High (HJHS)/Middle School starting in 1971. He kept teaching P.E. and health in HHS, for a half-decade until retiring in 1991.
In ‘65-71 in the central office, Jones helped foster school integration. He leaned on students who skipped school to keep up studies.
Derek Hawkins recalled as his coach Jones was strict and showed no favoritism, kept their focus, but at times let players “resolve our own issues.” Hawkins said, “He understood our needs, and how to shape us…into acceptable young men” through athletics.
Players learned respect, loyalty and perseverance from Coach Jones, HHS Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Eric Gash said. He told how Lemuel Jones once diffused a confrontation in a hurry at HJHS. “Coach said that whoever won (the looming fight) would have to face him next. Nobody wanted to do that!”
Keeping up with the Joneses is quite the challenge. Dr. Donald C. Jones also looms large in local education. His impact is financial, thanks to his can-do spirit and energetic tenacity. As HCEF executive director (2006-14), former college tight end Jones took the ball from predecessor Tom Orr. Jones led HCEF to even greater heights in fundraising, teacher grants, and student college scholarships —rising from four a year to 63 and $150,000 annually, and totaling nearly $1.9 million for scholarships in a decade.
On the revenue front, his BOGO coupon books alone raised over $250,000. Jones turned the HoF banquet and his HCEF Fall Golf Classic into chief fundraisers. HCEF Past Pres. James Wiley credits Jones’ “management and promotional skills.” Asst Supt. Dr. Jan King said of the former instructor and motivational speaker, “his enthusiasm for the cause was always fervent.” Jones was HCEF board president in 2004-06.
Don Jones said as a student he thanked a mentor long ago and the man replied that “if you help one guy like I helped you, then we’ll call it even.” Jones is proud of the impact he and HCEF have had on several dozens of students and teachers.
Jones has stayed active with the Hendersonville Kiwanis Club. He was its president in 1987-88. His ongoing efforts for youth are evident on Thursday, May 9 when Kiwanis’ high school athletic all-stars are honored at a luncheon in The Chariot. Jones has resumed organizing that event, which he and others launched in 1984.
As if an omen for his HCEF honor, Dr. Jones’ alma maters of Wofford and Tennessee both made impressive NCAA tourney runs in men’s basketball. At Wofford Jones was the football tight end. Teammate Jerry Richardson, a Little All-America receiver in ’57 and ’58, starred in the NFL and later was the Carolina Panthers’ first owner.
The other two inductees were elementary principals. Virginia Dale Thompson was one of the county’s earliest female principals. She led Hillandale for 25 years starting in 1969, when it was grades K-3. For her first three years as Honeybees’ queen bee, she also taught in East Flat Rock Elementary that housed grades 4-6 for the same school families.
In “Ms. T’s Time,” she espoused values in weekly school-wide assemblies. She urged “Be kind, be helpful, be loving” and “I am an American, and I am free.” Thompson said in her video she chose education as a growing and rewarding profession locally.
She taught in Greenville, S.C., then began her 42-year career in this county teaching in Balfour for two years then in ‘68-69 in Hillandale. After a year in the central office, she retired in 1994. In 1969, she was N.C. Assoc. of Educators union president.
Dr. Dan Lunsford, among her superintendents, said “Virginia worked relentlessly to build a caring and competent staff.” She set the bar for school security by having doors locked during class, requiring visitors to check in, and mapping out which family members were legally entitled to take a student home.
Joseph George Tamer, the sole deceased member of the HoF Class of ’19, died last December at age 71 after a long bout with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In 1999, the Winston-Salem native became the first principal of Glenn C. Marlow Elementary in Mills River. He led the school for eight years, retiring in 2007.
His Marlow High Five of student values were to be safe, kind, respectful, mindful and responsible. Tamer “set an amazing culture” of pride and eagerness to learn, Dr. Jan King said.
She succeeded Tamer as Marlow principal. John Bryant said once it was his turn as Marlow principal, Tamer urged him to keep up the “special” school spirit.
Supt. Bo Caldwell was Apple Valley Middle principal, and noted Tamer as his assistant bubbled with “passion” for education. Tamer was state principal of the year in 2002. He taught in Sumter, S.C. then in Flat Rock Junior High (89-93) and AVMS (‘93-4) before becoming an administrator.
Current Marlow principal John Hart told The Tribune that in carrying on Tamer’s tradition for school spirit, he himself enthusiastically greets students over the intercom each school morning with “Good morning, Buckaroos!”
For more on the Henderson County Education Foundation’s programs and events, call 697-5551 or check hcefnc.org.