ROGERSVILLE — Church Hill Elementary is creating a foundation in honor of its longtime “heart and soul” Jody Hall, whose love of children will be reflected in financial support for a new after-school program.
Hall passed away in October after working more than two decades at CHES, where she became a beloved fixture in the principal’s office.
On Thursday evening, Principal Hope Malone and several teachers addressed the Hawkins County Board of Education to recognize and honor Hall.
The school’s “heart and soul”
“Jody was not only our data clerk in our school,” Malone told the board. “She was our first face of Church Hill Elementary, she was our heart and soul of Church Hill Elementary, and we thought what better way to show how much she compassionately cared about those children?”
Beginning Jan. 14, CHES and Church Hill Middle School will host a YMCA after-school program Mondays through Fridays from 3-6 p.m.
The program will offer tutoring, help with homework, other activities and a snack, and it costs $59 per week or $16 per day.
CHES faculty and staff along with District 2 school board member Chris Christian decided that the best way to honor Hall’s memory was to create the Jody Hall Foundation, which will help cover the cost of the YMCA program for parents who might not be able to afford it.
“What better way can we honor Jody than to set up a foundation, or a scholarship fund, in Jody’s name to help those boys and girls who may need that extra time after school?” Malone asked.
Hall’s voice can still be heard
Hall’s voice is still on the school’s answering machine, and prior to Thursday’s BOE meeting, CHES first-grade teacher Melissa McGee called for some encouragement.
“I called so I could hear my friend say, ‘Welcome, good afternoon this is Church Hill Elementary,’ ” McGee said. “I just needed to hear that today.”
McGee, who worked with Hall for 25 years, tried to hold back tears as she told the board about the impact Hall made on the lives of the children, as well as her coworkers.
"She was the person at our school that everybody, regardless of who you were, could go to her, and she would help you. She would do anything she could to help anybody, especially the children. She was invested. She didn’t just work at our school. She invested her life into our school and into the children, and for that I will be forever grateful.”
McGee also shared some remembrances of Hall from the students’ point of view.
“To go to the office was a treat for the students because they knew that she could fix anything from a tummy ache to a scraped knee, being homesick, or if it was a behavior problem,” McGee said. “They loved to go see Ms. Jody. They knew they were going to get a little pep talk. She was going to encourage, and she was going to give her expectations of what she wanted them to do. She was going to love them and hug them and tell them that she loved them. And then, of course, before they left out the door, they were going to get some kind of piece of candy.”
Foundation gets first donation
Christian announced Thursday that from now on he will be contributing his school board salary to the Jody Hall Foundation. He gets $100 per monthly meeting, plus $50 per committee meeting.
He also challenged other school personnel to contribute.
“I had the privilege of sending five children — one currently — through Church Hill Elementary, and my children are better people because of Jody,” Christian said. “I’m a better person because of Jody. I always felt very welcome when I pushed the button and they buzzed me in. Jody was always humorous, and yes, she had candy.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the Jody Hall Foundation can call CHES at (423) 357-5621 during school hours and ask for Malone.
The section on “The Jody Hall Foundation” begins at the 27:00 minute mark in this video.