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Educators, others inducted into inaugural Johnson City Schools Hall of Fame

Becky Campbell • Updated Aug 25, 2019 at 12:41 PM

Twenty people associated with Science Hill High School and Langston High School were recognized Saturday — some still living and some posthumously — in the inaugural Johnson City Schools Hall of Fame.

The Legacy Group inductees were:

George Biddle, now deceased, retired in 1985 after 43 years with the school system. During those four decades, Biddle worked for nine superintendents and helped supervise the construction of six schools.

Jenny Brock, currently mayor of Johnson City, graduated from Science Hill in 1967. She attended ETSU and created wellness programs for fortune 500 companies. She later started Fit Kids fitness program for the Johnson City schools.

William A. Coleman Jr., a retired Navy captain, graduated from Langston High in 1964. He was commissioned into the Navy as an ensign and worked his way up through the ranks, commanding eight naval ships over a 27-year career.

Dr. Hezekiah B. Hankal, born in 1825, is often referred to as one of the founding fathers of Johnson City. He was a teacher, preacher, physician and opened Johnson City’s first African-American school in the late 1860s in a log cabin on Roan Hill.

Homer L. Pease, now deceased, was determined to serve in the military and joined the Marines at 13, with a stranger pretending to be his father. Pease’ age was eventually discovered after he was injured two years later in the Battle of the Bulge.

Le Roy Reeves, now deceased, graduated from Johnson City High School in 1893 and went on to teach in the system. He developed the design for the Tennessee state flag.

William Rhea, who died March 31 in Killeen, Texas, graduated as valedictorian from Langston High School in 1964. He was an outstanding football and basketball player. He attended ETSU for one year before joining the Army where he served more than 30 years, ascending to the rank of command sergeant major.

Steve Spurrier, a 1963 Science Hill graduate, went on to win the Heisman Trophy while a football player at the University of Florida. He became the university’s head football coach, then later coached the University of South Carolina.

The Tradition Group inductees were:

Paul Christman graduated from Langston and later returned to teach. He also served in the capacity of coach and assistant principal. After Langston closed, he became an assistant football and track coach at Science Hill.

Wyck Godfrey, a 1986 Science Hill graduate, has made his mark in the film industry, working on blockbusters like “Rocket Man, the “Mission: Impossible” movies and many more.

Kat Peeler, a 1981 Science Hill graduate, earned an engineering degree from Princeton University in 1985 and later worked as a software engineer. She became a beauty industry leader for L’Oreal, where she rose to senior vice president of global marketing. She was the marketing powerhouse behind the Garnier Fructis line. Now, Peeler is the founder and CEO of Eco Guar Group, which works toward a more sustainable future for underprivileged, minority global communities.

Callie Redd, a 1955 graduate of Langston High, taught in the city school system for nearly 40 years. She retired in 1998 and was remembered as a strict but caring teacher and friend.

Lottie Ryans graduated from Science Hill in 1978 and has been a leader in the region since then. She served three terms on the city school board and two years on the state Workforce Board in a position appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam. She now helps develop creative partnerships and programs to ensure a continuing strong workforce.

Rodney Sturtz, who died from cancer in 2004, began working at Science Hill in 1967 as the choral director. He taught students how to read music, stay on pitch and have proper posture for the best sound.

The Modern Group inductees were:

Dr. John Boyd began teaching at Henry Johnson Elementary School in 1974 and later became principal at Columbus Powell Elementary until it closed. Boyd now works at ETSU in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

George Carver, a 50-year employee of the school system, currently serves as a custodian at Fairmont Elementary. Carver said he loves his job and the kids at his school.

Evelyn Dugger served as the superintendent’s executive assistant from 1965 until her retirement in 2017. She began in the superintendent’s office through a work study program at Science Hill where she graduated from the same year. Dugger went on to work for nine superintendents.

Guy Mauldin was described as one of those “rite of passage” teachers. The math teacher semi-retired recently after 44 years of his 60 years teaching at Science Hill. He still teaches part-time and is involved in national mathematics as a teacher trainer.

Bonnie Sampson served as the communications and public relations director for more than 10 years. She helped create the Johnson City Public Schools Foundation and was a key force in strengthening community relations.

Joan Lincoln Swingle was a kindergarten teacher for 38 years before retiring in 2004. She started the first kindergarten program in the Columbus Powell Building at the request of then-superintendent Howard McCorkle. She always believed little children should have fun while learning in school.

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