Tyrone Gafford '94, MEd '08: Role Model for Students
As principal of Altavista Combined School, Tyrone Gafford is determined to be the best principal he can be for every student every day. “I value the kids, and I value their education,” he said. “The faculty here are really good about getting to know the kids’ needs and trying to meet them, but the buck stops here. There are times when I will deal with a sixth-grader and a twelfth-grader all in the same day. I have learned to shift gears on the fly.
The first in his family to attend college, Tyrone earned two degrees from LC, a B.A. in history in 1994 and an M.Ed. in educational leadership in 2008.
“As a minority student, I wondered if I would fit in, but I made lots of friends; I played basketball; and I learned how to deal with people at all levels. I was an RA (resident assistant) and hall director, and I still apply what I learned through those experiences. When you’re in charge of thirty guys living on a hall, you learn to be a leader quickly.”
Tyrone’s undergraduate and graduate experiences were similar because of his professors. “I felt so fortunate that I had professors who cared about me,” he said. “Since that was the way I was treated, I try to pass it on to my students. Every day here, I impress on the kids that we all care about them and want them to be successful.”
Tyrone’s first teaching job was at Sandusky Middle School. He next went to Heritage High School where he stayed for nine years teaching history and coaching girls and boys basketball. He was assistant principal at Altavista for four years before becoming principal.
“Now I am the instructional leader, a leader of the faculty and staff, a role model for the students, the one in charge of making sure everything in the building is right, and the one responsible for what kind of day it has been and what kind of education the kids are getting,” he said. “It’s all-encompassing, exciting, tiring, and frustrating, but at the end of the day, when I see kids and teachers smiling, I know it’s worth it.”