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Dicy McCullough: Principal Rick Hampton makes learning fun

Rick Hampton is well-known in the West Rowan community for several reasons. Not only does he live in this community, but he also was principal of what is now known as West Rowan Middle School. Jenny Horton, the guidance counselor at West Middle, said of Mr. Hampton, ěWhen he retired, the entire faculty and staff were devastated. Heís not only a good man, who is well respected and loved, but heís also a wonderful leader. He was like a general leading his troops because he was always concerned we were prepared for what was ahead.î
She recalls when things got difficult he would say, ěPlan in the cool of the evening for the heat of battle.î
When Mr. Hampton retired eight years ago, he couldnít stay away for very long and did several short interims before he became principal of North Rowan Elementary School. Heís been there ever since. When Rick announced a few weeks ago he was again retiring, moaning and groaning filled the halls of North Rowan. Everyone has been spoiled by his easy-going nature, which makes for a pleasant place not only to work, but to study. Teachers appreciate the support he gives them, and students think heís fun.
Iíve had the privilege of teaching music this year at North, and even though Iíve known Rick for many years, this is the only time heís been my principal. The first day I walked the halls of the school, I could sense it was a happy place. Second-grade students in Kenda Yountsí class recently shared their thoughts about ěthe best principal ever.î
Here are some of their comments:
ěMr. Hamptonís nice, heís funny and sometimes sneaks into our classroom when weíre not looking.î
ěHe dresses up in costumes and gives us extra chances.î
ěMr. Hampton also gives us candy, and often lets us play on the playground even when itís not our day.î
My favorite comment came from student Saige Johnson, who said, ěWhen we have a ëboo-boo,í he gives us a Band-Aid.î
I asked Mrs. Younts if she remembered a time Mr. Hampton dressed up in a costume. She said she remembered him dressing up for a school program as one of the Blues Brothers.
Teresa Adcock, who was a teacher at North a few years ago, remembers how much Mr. Hampton loved Tootsie Rolls. She recalls no matter what his day was like, he was always concerned about his teachers and would ask, ěHow was your day?î If it was a good day, he would reach in his pocket and pull out a Tootsie Roll to celebrate. If it was a rough day, he would pull out a Tootsie Roll to make it better. Scotty Adcock, assistant principal at Ethan Shive, commented how Rick sometimes uses his Southern accent to his advantage in countywide principalsí meetings to relieve tension. One of Scottyís favorite sayings of Mr. Hampton’s is, ěThangs are what they are …î
A few weeks ago, several teachers and I had the privilege of eating lunch with Rick, and he began telling stories about his childhood. As a child, he moved around a lot in the summertime because his dad was a professional ball player. When Rick became a teenager, he decided he wanted to stay with his grandparents in the summer on their farm in Elkin. He told about picking tobacco there, and then he shared a funny story about a mynah bird his grandmother got from his grandfather as a present. It seems the bird had picked up some bad language from a visiting relative, and the bird happened to display his knowledge in front of the preacher one Sunday afternoon. The story was so funny, tears were rolling down my cheeks from laughing. I later shared this experience with another teacher, Dessie Vogler, and she said, ěOh, yes, Rick is quite the storyteller.î
On the first day of school next year, Mr. Hampton, out of routine will probably start up his car and head North. Then again, maybe he will just go back to sleep dreaming of the fun heís going to have with his grandchild, Hampton. To give an example of how much fun the two of them are going to have, Mr. Hampton was chosen as the best comedian at North for this year. Taped to the wall outside the cafeteria door is a picture of him making a funny face and wearing a cowboy hat.
Hampton is one lucky little boy to have a grandpa who enjoys making people laugh. Who knows? Now that Mr. Hampton has more time, he may decide to try out for a spot on his favorite show, ěAmerica’s Got Talent.î Congratulations, Rick, on your much deserved retirement. Now go and enjoy.

Dicy McCullough of Salisbury is the author of the childrenís book, ěTired of My Bath.î

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