Berry, Lopez have taken positions in other local school systems
Hartselle High School is losing two longtime counselors this summer to other local schools.
Guidance counselors Johnny Berry and Kenny Lopez have accepted other jobs. Berry began his first day as Brookhaven Middle School’s principal Monday, and Lopez will be Falkville High School’s guidance counselor this fall.
Both educators said this was just the right move for them at this time.
Berry has a doctorate in education leadership, and said he had been waiting for this opportunity for a while.
“I’ve been looking for a long time now, and I was really drawn to this position by the impact I can make on student achievement,” Berry said. “Brookhaven is the best fit for me right now. I can make a positive impact very quickly. I still get butterflies thinking of the opportunity I have been given to make a difference. I feel called to do this.”
Lopez said the position at Falkville was the only position for which he would consider leaving Hartselle.
“I wasn’t looking for a change, and I was very, very happy at Hartselle, but this felt like a good opportunity to go back to the community that raised me,” Lopez said. “I graduated from Falkville, and I felt like this was the right step. I have taken a student minister position in the past year, and this will give me more time to dedicate to that work.”
Lopez will continue to coach Hartselle cross country team for the fall season since they had already began summer workouts when he accepted the new position. This season will be his last season with the cross country team.
“I wanted to make sure I could finish up this season so I could get a plan in order for next season before I left,” Lopez said. “I don’t know if I will be involved in Falkville’s athletics or not. I don’t really know what my future holds, but that’s okay. I’m just hoping to make a difference at Falkville.”
Berry, Hartselle’s former athletic director, is ready to take on the challenges his new position has to offer.
“I’m one of three new middle school principals in Decatur, and we are hoping to all work together to make them the best schools we can,” Berry said. “I’ll be working as the middle school’s athletic director as well. I know I will have a great faculty and staff, and I hope to build relationships with them and the students so we can all work on improvement together. I’m extremely passionate about teaching and learning, so when I get to come to a school that needs me, it’s almost surreal. I’m ready to tackle it.”
Berry said he has already been working hard to put a plan in place for Brookhaven.
“We hired a new assistant principle Friday, and I’ve been meeting with the past principal to see what can be done,” Berry said. “I’ve been scouring over all the data on their reading levels and math skills to see what we can improve. When I was in the guidance office at Hartselle, my chances were limited as far as educational leadership, but I was fortunate to work with administration that allowed me to grow and supervise a lot. I was exposed to how to read and interpret data that I know will help me greatly at Brookhaven. I feel very prepared by my 22 years at Hartselle to take this on.”
Lopez said he is looking forward to what awaits him at Falkville.
“I’m taking over a good situation at Falkville,” Lopez said. “I’ll be stepping in for Ken James, who is retiring. He was my guidance counselor when I was at Falkville. I believe this is what I need in my life right now.”
Both men said despite their new location, they would not be strangers at Hartselle.
“We plan to relocate at some point, but my wife will still be at the intermediate school,” Berry said. “We will definitely still be around.”
Hartselle High School principal Jeff Hyche said Berry and Lopez would both be missed greatly.
“I am happy for them in their new roles, but we will miss all their contributions to HHS,” Hyche said. “They are both great educators who will continue to serve students well. We will move forward at HHS and have excellent candidates to fill the spots. Hopefully we will have them on board working before school begins.”