By Natalie Simms
After leading Rome High School to be recognized as one of the “Best High Schools in Nation” by U.S. News and World Report, Dr. J. Tygar Evans retired from Rome City Schools in 2015. With 30 years in education, he soon moved to Alabama and decided he wasn’t quite ready to step away from education. Even today, he has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
In the last four years, he has served as principal of Paine Elementary School in Trussville, Ala., then as Director of Federal Programs at Trussville City Schools and was just recently named principal of North Ridge High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“I had no intention of leaving Rome High School until our daughter (Sydney) received her ACT scores,” says Evans. “If we had been Alabama residents, she would be a Presidential Scholar…which is free tuition to the University of Alabama.”
After much thought, Evans decided it was worth leaving Rome and moving to Alabama for his daughter to have a full scholarship for college. After Sydney graduated in 2015, Evans “retired” and they crossed the state line.
“I initially had offers from both high schools and elementary schools,” says Evans, and he decided to take a job with Trussville City Schools at an elementary school with about 1,100 children. “The main reason I took that job was because I thought it was good for me to go back to my roots with elementary school … that is what I first taught when I got into education,” he says.
He spent three years at Paine Elementary School before the school superintendent approached him about a job at the central office.
“The superintendent knew that I wanted to move up within the central office in the future and the only way to do that was to get experience. So she asked me to serve as the Director of Federal Programs over the last year for Trussville City Schools,” says Evans. “But what I learned over that year is that middle management is not for me. I had no contact with students or teachers, and I realized I wanted to be a principal again.”
There weren’t any jobs open within Trussville City Schools, so over spring, Evans began looking in nearby Birmingham for another job.
“I landed with Tuscaloosa City Schools at North Ridge High School,” he says. “I had not planned to go that far away but they offered me a great salary and a moving allowance.”
He left Trussville City Schools on May 31 and began his new job on June 3, an 80-minute drive from his home. He has been commuting weekdays for the last month and just closed on a home in Tuscaloosa on July 3.
“Lucky me, I get to have two house payments until I sell our house in Trussville,” he says. “But I am glad to not have to make that drive every day. And my wife will also be teaching at an elementary school in Tuscaloosa starting Aug. 1.”
Evans says North Ridge is similar to Rome High and he’s exciting to work with high school students again.
“There are a lot of similarities. North Ridge is a little smaller than Rome but both are very diverse schools. North Ridge has also been named one of the ‘Best High Schools in America’ and is ranked 18th in the state. Their AP (advanced placement) programs and curriculum are also very similar,” he says.
“I just enjoy being with kids and teachers. I love the fast pace of high school. Kids are kids no matter what age but high schoolers can talk to you like adults. You really see how you’re helping them more in high school than in elementary school because you see them work hard and graduate.”
While with Rome City Schools, Evans started as a teacher at Anna K. Davie before moving to Rome Middle School as an assistant principal for two years, then principal at North Heights for four years and then five years at East Central before moving to Rome High.
“It was a huge blessing for me to see kids all the way through K-12 at Rome City Schools,” he says. “If you can serve, there is no better place than in education. You get to help so many kids each and every day.”
As for a permanent retirement from education, Evans says it will be a while.
“It will all happen in due time,” he says. “At least six to eight more years…I’ll be 62 and then I might think about it.”