Hartselle Educator Hall of Fame to induct six
Special to the Enquirer
The Hartselle Educator Hall of Fame (HEHOF) has announced its selections for the Class of 2023. The Educator Hall of Fame was established to honor individuals who have made a significant contribution to the education of students who have attended Hartselle schools. The inductees are Elaine Balch, Warner Byars, Dr. Nancy Horton, Jan and Hollis James and Sheila Reeves.
These educators will be inducted into the HEHOF Feb. 18 at the seventh annual Hall of Fame Banquet at the Ministry Center at First Methodist Church of Hartselle.
A time to meet and congratulate the inductees will begin at 5:15 p.m. followed by the banquet at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at a cost of $35 each and may be purchased at the Hartselle City Schools Central Office or online at www.hartselletigers.org. All profits from the banquet will be equally divided between the Hartselle Alumni Association and the Morgan County Task Force.
The public is invited to attend and honor this group of educators who spent many years shaping the lives of Hartselle students.
Balch began her employment with Hartselle City Schools in 1987 as a substitute teacher. She became the Hartselle High School guidance office secretary in 1995. For the next 23 years, she was known for putting students first and helping them achieve their highest goals. Students and staff said they could count on her to go above and beyond to provide information, support and compassion. She and her husband, Edd, were instrumental in a community effort to provide a venue and organization in Hartselle for students to express their theatrical abilities. Balch was involved in the development of a fine arts center on the campus of the old F.E. Burleson school. In 2002, she was the recipient of the Hartselle Athletic Booster Club’s Richard Grammar Award in honor of her work on the football and basketball programs. She has worked extensively with the American Cancer Society and was instrumental in involving many Hartselle High School clubs and students in the Relay for Life and the Survivor Dinner fundraisers. Since retiring in 2018, Elaine continues to support Hartselle City Schools by attending sporting events and volunteering in numerous activities.
Byars began her education career in 1971 in Morgan County Schools and she retired in 2001 from Hartselle City Schools. Throughout her career, she was an advocate for individuals with special needs, going above and beyond to meet the needs of her students. As a Hart School teacher, she was instrumental in raising awareness for the need of an updated facility for students attending Hart School. She helped students learn necessary life skills in addition to providing fun activities such as the Hart School Rhythm Band. In 1993, she served as president of the Hartselle Education Association. She maintained her community service during retirement through involvement with Wreaths Across America, Books for Africa, March of Dimes, Zeta Phi Beta and St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Her husband, Lester Byars, will accept the award for Mrs. Byars who passed away this past spring.
Horton joined Hartselle City Schools in 2007 as Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs. She was later named Assistant Superintendent and remained in this position until her retirement in 2015. Highlights of her time in Hartselle include the introduction of the Blue-Ribbon Schools program and leading initiatives to establish Hartselle Intermediate School, the relocation of Hartselle Junior High School and the planning and move to the new Hartselle High School. Prior to Hartselle City Schools, Dr. Horton served as Superintendent of Cullman County Schools, counselor at Hanceville Elementary and adjunct instructor at Wallace State Community College. From 1974- 1996, she taught middle school science and coached volleyball, cheerleaders, basketball and softball. Her numerous awards and recognitions include Alabama Secondary Winner of Jacksonville Teacher Hall of Fame, School Superintendents of Alabama Outstanding Legislative Service Award, National Superintendent’s Committee for Adolescent Literacy and Southern Association of Schools and Colleges leader for reviews and evaluations.
Hollis James began his teaching career at Arab Schools in 1951 after graduating from Birmingham Southern College in 1950. He then moved to Hartselle and served as band director for 24 years at Morgan County High School which later became Hartselle High School. He taught band from 1952 until 1976 for Hartselle students in fifth through twelfth grades. His high school program provided marching and concert band opportunities, and he involved students in district and state band competitions. Under his leadership, the band performed at the 1973 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. and as the featured band in a 1975 Walt Disney World parade. James served in the U. S. Army in Japan during WWII.
James began her teaching career in a rural, one-room school in Cullman County. She then taught at F.E. Burleson and Crestline Elementary before moving to Morgan County High School, now Hartselle High School, in 1970. She taught ninth grade history and civics until she retired from teaching in 1989. Throughout her career, she was known for making learning fun and encouraging students to always give their best effort. As the wife of band director Hollis James, also a 2023 HCS Teacher Hall of Fame inductee, James was very involved in band activities and events. She traveled with the band to competitions and provided support when the band received special invitations to perform. She was always there to encourage and assist the marching and concert bands. She expanded her influence beyond her own classroom to work in partnership with her husband to provide numerous musical opportunities for Hartselle students.
Sheila Reeves began teaching English and government at Lawrence County Schools in 1979. In 1984, she came to Hartselle High School and then moved to Hartselle Junior High School where she taught eighth grade English from 1987 until she retired in 2020. Her activities and awards include serving as the chairperson of the English department, Hartselle City Schools Professional Development Team, Hartselle City Schools Middle School Teacher of the Year, Hartselle City Schools District Secondary Teacher of the Year and selection as the Hartselle City Schools Representative for the Jacksonville State University Teacher Hall of Fame. She has a legacy of being a kind and inspiring teacher who challenged her students to perform above expectations.