Gilmer Ellis leaving DHS after 13 years as principalPublished 11:55am Friday, June 21, 2013
A 45-year career in education will end June 30 when Gilmer Ellis steps down as principal at Danville School.
Ellis, 67, is retiring after completing his 13th year as the school’s principal and his 41st year in the Morgan County School System.
Making the decision to retire wasn’t easy, according to Ellis.
“I’ve gotten up and gone to school for 61 years,” Ellis said. “That’s a long time.
“I decided it was time to try something else. I have no specific plans but perhaps now I’ll be able to do some of those things I put off because I didn’t have the time.
“However, I’ve had to deal with mixed emotions through the process,” Ellis pointed out. “I live on a farm and have a small herd of cattle. Just about every evening after school I’ll go check on them. Now I’ll be able to go check on them in the morning, too. The problem is the cows can’t talk. I’ve always enjoyed being around people and having conversations with them. I won’t know how much I’m going to miss that until school reopens in August.”
Another thing Ellis said he and his wife Joan, a retired nurse, like to do is eat out.
“I suppose the faculty members realized that,” Ellis stated, “because they gave us a bunch of gift cards from local restaurants as a retirement gift.”
Ellis began his career as a classroom teacher and coach at New Hope High School in Madison County. His 1972 basketball team went undefeated and won the Madison County Tournament.
Four years later, he joined the faculty at Danville High, teaching business math, keyboarding and physical education.
Before becoming principal, he served as an assistant principal for 25 years and coached junior high football and basketball teams for 20 years.
He also led a community effort to organize the school’s first football team in 1975 and served as its first head coach.
As a junior high coach, he led his teams to seven undefeated seasons.
Ellis said the advancement of technology is the biggest change he has witnessed in his long education career.
“All of the kids are savvy when it comes to using their PCs and iPads as tools to access the information they need,” he pointed out. “Plus, it has changed the way schools operate on a day-to-day basis.”
Ellis said the biggest reward of his career is having former students come back and tell how their high school experience affected the fulfillment of their goals in life, no matter if they’re a doctor, lawyer, accountant, school teacher, farmer or plumber.
A 1964 graduate of DHS, Ellis attended Samford University and Athens State University on basketball scholarships, earning a B.S. degree in secondary education. He received his AA certificate from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree in secondary education from Athens State.
He and his wife have four sons: Russell, an orthopedist practicing in Decatur; Rodney, an engineer who works for the Alabama Department of Transportation; Scott, a teacher and basketball coach at DHS; and Bryan, a teacher at the Morgan County Alternative School and baseball coach at DHS.