Dr. Prater Powell reflects on 45 years in education

For 45 years Dr. Prater Powell hasn’t had much time for breaks.

Recently retired director of schools Dr. Prater Powell speaks with the Manchester Times in his home Friday morning. Powell spent 45 years in local education – 35 years with the Coffee County School System and 10 years with Manchester City Schools. (Staff photo by Josh Peterson)

Recently retired director of schools Dr. Prater Powell speaks with the Manchester Times in his home Friday morning. Powell spent 45 years in local education – 35 years with the Coffee County School System and 10 years with Manchester City Schools. (Staff photo by Josh Peterson)

But on the first day of his retirement he was forced to take one. The Manchester native and longtime educator underwent shoulder surgery on June 28, ushering in his retirement from his education career with rehab and a slower pace – at least for now.

“Fortunately and unfortunately, education was my life,” said Prater, who served the last 10 josh petersonyears of his education career as the Manchester City Schools Director and before that spent 35 years with the county school system in multiple capacities.

“Right now I’ve had this shoulder surgery and don’t really have anything planned at this time [for retirement],” said Prater, pointing at his shoulder. “My wife taught and retired about 10 years ago so [education] has pretty much been our lives. I don’t have a lot of hobbies in terms of fishing, hunting, golfing and those types of activities. I do try to play golf about two or three times a year and I hope to play a little more.”

Prater announced his retirement prior to last school year, informing the Manchester Board of Education that he would not seek a new contract.

“I told [my wife] Gayla [Powell] when I get up in the morning and I don’t enjoy it is when I’ll quit,” explained Prater. “I had probably begun to see some of that tendency that it wasn’t as pleasurable as it used to be because of so many things coming down the pike. It was nothing locally and not the students or parents … just so many regulations coming down and so many things changing. I know change has to happen. I understand that.

“I’ve certainly enjoyed it all.”

The start

Prater grew up around the public. As a young boy he was involved in his family’s grocery store – Lewis Market – around downtown Manchester. He worked there through college at MTSU and was soon teaching kids growing up in the same Manchester town that he did.

“I always enjoyed the students in the middle grades,” said Prater, his memory sharp about where has been and what he has done. “That’s where I spent the majority of my teaching time with that age group of students.”

He started off teaching physical education at Jones, Hickerson and Hillsboro elementary schools before moving to what was then Coffee County Junior High School to teach eighth- grade science and American history. After that he moved to East Coffee Elementary where he taught fifth and sixth grades and also served as the school’s principal. After 11 years in that role, he returned to the junior high to be assistant principal and athletic director before eventually moving to the central office as supervisor of instruction.

In 1993 he moved to full time administration work and was deemed assistant superintendent to Bobby Cummins. ….

Continue reading the complete story in this week’s (July 17) print edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and/or online version. 


Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm