Tim Berry leaving South-Doyle

Betsy PickleOur Town Leaders, Our Town Youth, South Knox

Tim Berry, principal at South-Doyle High School since 2011, is leaving his position. He started letting people in the school community know about three weeks ago and included the information in the school’s graduation program on Friday. A Facebook post made Saturday by his wife, Andrea Burks Berry, spread the news further. She wrote:

“There is so much to admire and respect from his leadership. I have watched him through the years pour into his school and it is exciting to see how so much good has (happened) under his tenure at South-Doyle. He always has high expectations and achieves those expectations but does it with a servant’s heart. At graduation I sat in the crowd feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to walk beside this man and thankful I was there to see him on this stage for a final time. I love you, Tim Berry!”

(Berry shared the post, commenting, Thanks sweet girl! I love you too!!)

Tim Berry

Berry has been pushing for three years to get STEM accreditation for South-Doyle. The goal was achieved on May 10, when the Tennessee Department of Education announced that two Knox County schools, SDHS and Green Magnet Academy, had earned the designation, recognizing them as schools that prepare students for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. They were among 27 schools across the state to get STEM/STEAM recognition for 2022; only 88 schools have been so designated since the program began in 2018.

The STEM designation comes with a $30,000 grant to purchase equipment, according to Knox County Commissioner Carson Dailey, whose District 9 encompasses South Knoxville.

Berry, a Loudon County native who was an All-State basketball player and played during his one year at Hiwassee College, “found himself” at the University of Tennessee, where his interest in science – especially chemistry and biology – helped him decide to become a teacher. He spent 21 years as a teacher and administrator in Loudon County, and he earned advanced education degrees from Lincoln Memorial University and Tennessee Technological University.

He applied for a principal’s position in Knox County after he was unsuccessful in his bid to become schools superintendent in Loudon County. He ended up at South-Doyle at a time when the school’s morale was low.

His faith in the students and his positive leadership – promoting the motto “Reveal Your Greatness” – turned things around at the school, according to parents, students, faculty and community leaders.

“He’s taken it from an underachieving to a Blue Ribbon school, to a STEM school that’ll soon be a Ford (Next Generation) school,” says Dailey. “Our robotics team is awesome. Of course, our Junior ROTC people are great.”

Dailey credits Berry with refocusing the school.

“He changed the vision in the 11 years he was there. He changed the vision from just going to school to the vision of graduating and becoming somebody. He will be missed, I promise you that.”

Clark Duncan, who joined the school’s administration in 2003 and was named head football coach in 2009, announced in mid-January that he would retire as coach and athletic director at that time and as an administrator at the end of the 2021-22 school year. He was succeeded by Paul Shelton. Then in April, basketball coach Ryan Ross left after just two years, and assistant coach James Jones applied for and was hired as head coach.

“We’re going through some changes,” said Dailey.

Betsy Pickle is a freelance writer and editor who particularly enjoys spotlighting South Knoxville.

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