Shuler: Education is a team sport

Editor’s note: October is National Principals Month. The Pee Dee Post will publish profiles on each of the county’s 16 school principals as submitted by Richmond County Schools during the month.
Jamie Greene
Yvonne Gilmer
Ellen Mabe
* Joyce McRae

By Mallory Brown
Special to The Pee Dee Post

Success for Rohanen Middle School Principal Hal Shuler has always been about teamwork — both on the field and in the classroom.

Hal Shuler

Hal Shuler

The second-year principal has a history in both education and athletics, and it’s no mystery how both professions have helped him along the way.

“I look at the principal job just like the coaching job,” Shuler said. “It’s a team game. All of our teachers and students are in this together. There are differences, but there are also a lot of similarities.”

Shuler grew up in Sumter, S.C., with a long lineage of relatives who understood the true importance of a good education.

“My mom taught school for years,” he said. “I’d say my parents motivated me because they were so educated themselves. Even my parents’ parents went to college … My grandparents went to Clemson and Furman back in the early 1900s, so I think education was something that was instilled in us at an early age. We were going to school — there wasn’t ever a doubt — because our parents did and their parents did. That’s probably the biggest influence for me.”

After high school, Shuler attended Appalachian State before pursuing his master’s degree at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

“I knew I wanted to be in education, but I started out coaching,” he said.

Shuler’s career would soon take him to many different places, including a position as the assistant coach at Lenoir Rhyne and Wofford. Eventually, Shuler’s path led him to Richmond County to teach P.E. at Monroe Avenue Elementary School.

“It was a great time to be here,” he recalled about his time in Richmond County. “We won three state championships in a row.”

Shortly afterward, Shuler became the head football coach at Richmond Senior High.

“I taught a few years of science, but while I was doing that I was coaching,” he said. “I also coached tennis and track, but football was my love.”

In 1996, Shuler said he had the opportunity to go back to the world of college athletics where he worked as an assistant football coach at East Tennessee State before moving on to the coaching staff at N.C. State in Raleigh.

By that time, however, Shuler had his family to consider.

“In college football, it’s a lifestyle and part of that lifestyle is moving around,” he said. “I wanted stability … The kids were growing up and with all of the moving around, I decided I needed to stay put. So I came back to what I knew here and went back into coaching. I ended up being the athletic director at the high school.”

At the same time, Shuler served as an assistant principal at Richmond Senior High.

“After that, I decided to go back and work on my doctorate so I could try to be a principal,” he said.

In the following years, he would take a position as assistant principal at Rockingham Middle before moving on to the Ninth Grade Academy.

Finally, after years of hard work and dedication, Shuler was offered a position as principal of Rohanen Middle School in July 2013.

He is currently in the process of writing his dissertation.

From athletic director to administrator, Shuler has carried some of the same principals with him that he began with many years ago.

“I think I just grew up this path,” he said. “I knew I wanted to coach and deal with people. I wanted to see students grow and achieve, whether it was on the athletic field or in the classroom. It’s the same thing. I still get a kick out of seeing students do well — or maybe watching a student who started out rough turning over a new leaf. It’s about being able to look at the kids you coach — or kids you taught way back — and seeing where they are now. They may come up to say thanks for what you did. It’s just good to see and know you had a part in that.”

Shuler is married to wife Bess and has two sons, Will, who is currently coaching at North Greenville University, and Andy, a senior at Appalachian State University.

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