By KATHRYN ACREE
If you’ve spent any time in the Oak Mountain school zone in past years, the name Jane Hampton probably rings a bell. The Highland Lakes resident retired as principal of Oak Mountain Elementary in 2008, having served as an educator with Shelby County Schools for 37 years. She hasn’t slowed down since retiring though. We sat down with her to talk about the school system so dear to her and her new role with the Shelby County Arts Council.
Tell us a little about your first teaching position.
I was fresh out of Auburn having been raised in Tuscumbia when I taught third grade at Valley Elementary in 1971 under then principal Dr. Norma Rogers. Shelby County was, of course, nothing like it is today but was on the verge of growth. Valley was in desperate need of some playground equipment, and we went to the developer of the Chandalar subdivision being constructed in Pelham and asked them to let us have any of those huge precast concrete pipes they might have left over to make do as a playground. We were creative even back then when funds were tight!
Where did you go after Valley Elementary?
Shelby was really growing in the north end of the county, and I went to the then new Inverness Elementary to teach second grade. I went back to school at Montevallo and earned my masters and later became an assistant principal at Inverness. I then moved to Oak Mountain Elementary, where I was principal for 11 years.
You were one of the “true believers” when it came to the construction of Oak Mountain High School. Share some of the efforts that made that possible.
It seems like a long time ago now, but I was part of a core group that canvassed the school zone door-to-door to convince homeowners that a property tax increase was needed to ensure the high school would be built. At that time, our students were driving to Pelham or Chelsea for high school, and we needed Oak Mountain. It finally passed, and construction began in 1998.
What led to your decision to run for a seat on the school board?
My retirement was, it turned out, not going to be spent reading books at the beach! I was encouraged to throw my hat in the ring in 2010 and run for Place One that was coming open on the Shelby County School Board. With support and continued encouragement, I won, and I’m thrilled to be serving now. My passion is working for what is best for the children of our county. Randy Fuller has great vision as superintendent, and I’m excited for what the future holds.
What is on the horizon for the Shelby County Arts Council?
The Arts Council seeks to promote art programs and assisting artists. They are working toward the construction of a 25,000-square-foot Community Arts Center in cooperation with the City of Columbiana and Shelby County. They serve the entire community to expand the arts and cultural organizations.