May 12, 2021
By: Dwayne Page
For the last seventeen years, David Gash has devoted his career to working with youth in the DeKalb County School System. First as guidance counselor and in more recent years as assistant high school principal.
Its been a great experience but nothing lasts forever and Gash will be closing the book on his tenure at DCHS to begin retirement when school ends this month.
“Its time to move on and let someone else come in who may be younger with a little more energy,” he said.
Gash began his county public service in 1988 with the sheriff’s department.
“Kenneth Pack was Sheriff at that time and he hired me as a lake site patrol officer. Later I became a third shift deputy and after a while moved to day shift. Over time I was promoted to Sergeant and then Lieutenant during which time I took on the role of DARE officer working with kids in the schools. That was one of the most rewarding times of my career. In 1999-20 we started the School Resource Officer (SRO) program after getting a grant and Sheriff Pack promoted me to Captain working with the entire school system as the county’s first SRO officer,” said Gash.
“As an SRO, I considered myself to be sort of a teacher-counselor-cop. I did a lot of counseling with the kids at school. Of course, if someone violated the law there, I had to make arrests. I served as SRO officer through the 2003-04 school year,” he continued.
Gash said he probably would have stayed in law enforcement had the pay been better at that time. Instead he opted to go back to college.
“When I saw I could further my education and become a counselor for the school and get a sizeable raise and still get to do what I love, working with and counseling kids, I made the change. I went back to school at Tennessee Tech to get my Master’s Degree and EdS. I already had a Bachelor’s Degree from there in Sociology and Criminal Justice”.
After completing his college education, Gash was hired by the school system starting with the 2004-05 year.
“The first year I was counselor at the middle school. The following year I moved to the high school to fill a counselor vacancy. Kathy Hendrix became principal at the high school that year and Patrick Cripps moved from counselor to administration creating an opening for me. I served in that role for two years until before being named assistant high school principal starting with the 2007-08 school year,” Gash said.
As one of the two assistant principals at DCHS, Gash has been primarily responsible for dealing with discipline issues while the other assistant principal, Jenny Norris has overseen academic matters.
“I am over discipline at the school. If a student violates a rule I meet and talk with them, find out why they did it, and try to counsel and help them understand why they don’t need to do it again. We also issue punishment. It could be from calling the parent to after school detention, suspension, or alternative school. Some things have a harsher punishment especially if its violence or drug related”.
Altogether between the sheriff’s department and school system Gash has put in 33 years working for the county and he is looking forward to retirement .
“I have worked with a lot of great people. I will miss them and especially the kids,” he said.
Gash and his wife Tina have two grown children Caleb Gash and Callie Cantrell and two grandchildren, Oliver Cantrell and Britton Gash and they plan to visit them more in their spare time.
Caleb works for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and his wife MaKenzy is employed at Kilgore’s Restaurant. Callie is a teacher in Memphis while her husband Caleb has been in Med School. They are relocating soon to Mobile, Alabama where he will be doing his residency and Callie will be taking a teaching position.
Although retired, Gash will still be active. He was recently appointed by the county commission to serve as a county judicial commissioner rotating his time with two others in issuing warrants as needed while his wife Tina will continue working as an RTI teacher at Smithville Elementary School.