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'I hope people know that I truly cared,' says retiring Henderson County superintendent

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Henderson County Superintendent Bo Caldwell is named News 13's Person of the Week as he prepares to retire after 36 years in education. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

It made perfect sense that Superintendent Bo Caldwell's farewell tour included a recent "Coffee With Caldwell" visit with Student Government Association students at East High. That's because, for 36 years, he's savored his career like a good cup of Joe.

The retiring educator's last day on the job is Tuesday, November 24.

"Every day was a blessing," said Caldwell, News 13's Person of the Week. "Every day was a joy of developing relationships with people. I got excited about going to work."

The superintendent has done it all at Henderson County Public Schools. He also worked as a teacher and a principal. Perhaps most importantly, he played a huge role as a mentor.

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"I do love our first-year teachers because of the excitement," he said. "And I think I just go all the way back to my first year when I was handed a grade book and a box of chalk and say, 'Go at it.'"

Bo knows football, folks learned. Chief Human Resources Officer Scott Rhodes played for the former coach at Edneyville High in 1984.

"Mr. Caldwell has had some very good pep talks," Rhodes recalled. "He connects with people. He inspires you to want to be better each and every day, and that's been happening as a student and now as a colleague."

Last year, News 13 followed along when Caldwell filled in on National Custodial Worker Day.

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"This is my cart for the day!" he said with enthusiasm, after starting his day at 1 a.m. "I have found a couple of honey bun wrappers!" he said as he swept the floor.

Caldwell gave custodian Nancy Harris a paid day off and worked eight hours in her place.

"Why not Nancy? For someone who's dedicated their life to this same school in Henderson County for 40 years," he said.

That day we got a look at the appreciation he has for people who work for him.

"Why not honor our custodians and do this?" Caldwell said at the time.

Mary Louise Corn was his teacher at Rugby Middle and has watched him grow up through the system.

"His personality," stressed Corn, who's now a school board member. "His ability to meet anybody and connect with them; and his absolute, 100 percent desire to do what's best for kids. And I saw that even in his relationships with his peers even that long ago."

"What I want people to truly remember is relationships," Caldwell said. "That I tried to develop relationships, and I truly cared about the people that I served."

That unwavering commitment is a big part of Mr. Caldwell's legacy. For two generations, he made people a priority.

"I think I was always fair, but I hope people know that I truly cared," he said.

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