“He is one of the nicest people you ever want to work with,” Dr. Debra Bentley, Johnson City Schools’ director of instruction and communications, said Tuesday on Chupa’s last day of work. “I’ve worked with Mr. Chupa for 25 years, and he’s a wonderful advocate for students and teachers.
“He brings a positive attitude about everything but especially about students. He’s going to be gravely missed by our school district.”
After graduating from Milligan College in 1972, Chupa immediately picked up a teaching position at Keystone Elementary School in the same year.
“I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences in the classroom,” he said.
Since then, he’s moved up in the hierarchy of the school system. In 1975, he moved to the central office, where he became an attendance teacher/supervisor. That essentially included working with teachers and helping organize student services, which he became supervisor of in later years.
Student services required Chupa to work with both students and teachers in allotting the proper time and funds to help with regular academic school programs, but he also started other programs to help impoverished children in the schools. These programs extended to the local community as a whole with a homeless program and collection of shoes and other clothing articles for children and adults alike.
After spending about 20 years in the central office, Chupa went back to school and received his master’s degree from East Tennessee State University in 1995. He became an associate principal at Science Hill High School in 1998.
In 2001, he was promoted to the school’s head principal and remained in that position until 2007. During that time, he said, “I’ve had a lot of great students.” He mentioned how many of the students became Roan Scholars and some graduates ended up attending the nation’s more prestigious colleges. Chupa said he couldn’t be more proud of the success stories he had in his time at Science Hill.
In his current position as the supervisor of instruction and facilities, Chupa mainly works with teachers. He does classroom sit-ins and evaluates teachers on their teaching style and the development of curriculum. He said this portion of his job is his favorite because of the interaction he’s able to have with teachers and students.
Chupa described his time within the system as a good one and said the “wonderful staff” he worked with through the years helped make all of it possible.
Dr. Robbie Anderson, another curriculum administrator for the city school system, has been a close associate who worked with Chupa for more than 40 years.
“Mr. Chupa is a person of great personal and professional integrity,” Anderson said. “Dedicated to public service, he believes educators have a tremendous impact on the lives of students. He came to work every day determined to provide teachers and principals the resources they needed to be effective. His depth of knowledge regarding the Johnson City schools will be hard to replace.”
Now at his retirement, Chupa looks forward to spending time with his family. He has his wife, Sharon, his son and two grandchildren he would like to spend more time with.
“I want to do the things I haven’t been able to do with my family,” Chupa said.
He also expressed his interest in going back to teaching. He loves first grade the most, since that’s the most integral time to learn how to read.
“I’ve got a little rising first-grader, and she’s learning how to read,” Chupa said. “It’s exciting to watch that.”