Retiring East Elementary music instructor celebrated

Mar. 21—Long-time music educator Tim Clemmons will be staying around East and West Elementary until June, but in a symbolic send-off Tuesday, he gave those attending the Cullman City School Board meeting a taste of what he gifted to his students over the last four decades.

The board accepted Clemmons' retirement on Tuesday during its regular monthly meeting, but not before honoring the beloved educator by naming him the district's Certified Employee of the Month. Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff described Clemmons as "a legend" who has become known for the teaching of his original musical number "The Frog Song."

The Randy Newman-esque song about a frog who dreams of becoming an alligator to frighten the children who interrupt him from peacefully sitting on a log was uploaded to YouTube by a former student 11 years ago. The video has been viewed more than 30,000 times and has received hundreds of comments, mostly from former students singing the praises of their favorite music teacher.

Clemmons told The Times that he believed compassion and caring are just as important as inside the classroom, as the curriculum that's taught after being named the district's 2008 Teacher of the Year.

"So much of teaching is not what you know, but that the kids know you care about them," he said.

Former Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Program Administrator Paige Clabo said Clemmons had changed her life for the better, and that she was honored to have been a part of his 40-year legacy.

"He is part of the reason I was able to perform professionally for a period of time. I was able to share 'The Frog Song' with a group of students when I lived in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and I know that song lives in many hearts and minds and will for years to come. He is an inspiration to all those around him," Clabo said.

Clabo was present to accept a new position, Foundation Specialist, recently created by the Cullman City Schools Foundation. In a follow-up text to The Times, Clabo deferred any details about the nature of the position to Kallhoff. Messages left with Kallhoff's secretary Wednesday were not responded to by press time.

Emily Smallwood was also named the district's Support Employee of the Month and Raemon Gladney was named Student of the Month.

In other business the board:

* Approved the summer contracts for: Sashari Caretti, Courtney Speciale, Krista Johnson, Lindsay Harris, Blakely Burns and Danielle Shelton.

* Awarded the bid for Cullman City Primary School playground equipment to Struthers Recreation for $270,000.

* Approved a principal contract for East Elementary School Principal Melanie Harris.

* Approved an addendum to the principal contract for Cullman City Primary School Principal Elizabeth Shaddix.

* Approved a community partnership with the Cullman Housing Authority and United Way of Cullman.

* Approved a partnership agreement for dental screening and a contract agreement for dental services with Dr. Katherine Stidham.

* Approved a partnership agreement for TB screenings with Dr. James Thomas of Alabama Urgent Care and Specialty Clinic.

* Approved a partnership agreement for physical examinations with Good Hope Medical Clinic.

* Approved a health services advisor agreement with Dr. Heidi Blair.

* Approved to surplus one John Deere mower, one Toro mower, one Toro top-dresser and one Ryan Air Aerator from the Cullman High School soccer program.

* Approved to salvage Introduction to Livestock and Companion Animals textbooks from Cullman High School.

* Approved to salvage seven Apple iMacs, one lot of Unifi and Cisco Wireless Access Points, one lot of HP and Dell Chromebooks and one SMART panel.

* Approved the retirement of Cullman High School CTE teacher John Drake.

* Accepted the resignation of West Elementary School special education instructional assistant Maureen Bradley.

* Approved the transfer of special education instructional assistant Vickie Stewart from East Elementary School to Cullman Middle School.

* Approved the conditional employment of the following employees: Brynn Hilliar — Special education instructional assistant at Cullman City Schools, Anna Williams — Head Start long-term substitute teacher at Cullman City Primary School, Phyllis Thompson — Long-term substitute PE teacher at East Elementary School, Matthew Mansour — Instructional Assistant at Cullman City Schools and Joshua Skinner — English Language Arts long-term substitute teacher at Cullman Middle School.