Education community, friends celebrate career of Director Gill
School Board to name Smyrna High gym after him

By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools

MURFREESBORO — Friends, family and members of the education community gathered May 24 to celebrate the career of Director of Schools Harry Gill Jr. 

A receiving line of more than 200 guests greeted Gill one-by-one and then gathered in the Board of Education meeting room to view photos of him throughout his career and to write memories in a special book for him. 

School Board member Wayne Blair announced that the Board of Education plans to vote to name the gym at Smyrna High School after Gill. The vote is scheduled to take place at the Board’s June 13 meeting. 

Gill said he was humbled by the gesture.

“I thought the only thing I’d ever have named after me was Mr. Raikes’ paddle, Gill said, referring to his days as a student at the school where Robert Raikes served as a football coach and longtime principal.

Raikes shared stories about Mr. Gill during both his student days and when Gill eventually became his boss as director of schools.

“He stands up for what he believes in and we’ve been a better school system for it.” Raikes said.

State Rep. Mike Sparks also presented Mr. Gill with a resolution from the state legislature commemorating his years of service. 

Gill will officially retire on June 30 and will be succeeded by Don Odom, the current assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. 

Gill has held the position since May 2003, and previously served as the principal of Cedar Grove Elementary School in Smyrna and an assistant principal at LaVergne High School. 

He coached girl’s basketball at Smyrna High School from 1972-1988 where he accumulated a 345-140 record. During that time, he was nominated for National High School Coach of the Year and was named Mid-State coach of the year by The Tennessean in 1976 and 1982 and again by the Nashville Banner in 1983. He also led the Lady Bulldogs to a state championship in 1982. Mr. Gill was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2009.

As Director of Schools, Mr. Gill has overseen tremendous student growth in Rutherford County’s school system, including the opening of several new schools and the addition of more than 10,000 new students. Under Mr. Gill’s leadership, the school system has consistently posted some of the highest scores in the state on the Tennessee Report Card on Education.