Henry B. Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” This seems to be especially true to the Spring Hill community this past week as they mourn the loss of a man that has been at the heart of their hometown for many years. A man that has spent the last 40+ years touching the lives of students and staff, not just at Spring Hill, but other districts and communities as well.
Mr. J. Carroll Purtle began his teaching career in 1976 as a Social Studies Teacher at Sheridan School District. He moved to Spring Hill in 1980, teaching Social Studies for several years before he became the High School Principal in 1989. For 20 years, Mr. Purtle shaped and molded the lives of Spring Hill students, leaving in 2000 for a superintendent position at Bradley High School. In 2006, Purtle retired, but his love of education didn’t keep him away for long, as three short years later, he took the position of Superintendent for Palestine/Wheatley School District (2009-2011) and at Wonderview School District (2011-2017). Retiring again in 2017 to substitute teach, Purtle once again jumped back in the game less than a year later and, fittingly, ended up right back in Spring Hill as Superintendent until 2020.
44 years. 44 years as a mentor, an educator and, most of all, a friend. A friend to anyone he met, always full of advice, laughter, wisdom and someone you could count on to be direct and straight to the point.
Mr. Purtle passed away peacefully on Friday, June 19 at his home in Jerusalem, AR and, while his friends in the Spring Hill Community are saddened, they have spent the last few days remembering the impact Mr. Purtle had on their lives. Pictures and memories have flooded Facebook, with former and current students and staff alike all telling stories of senior trips, classroom lessons and “that one time” they got in trouble.
Trish Steed, a former Spring Hill student summed it up in just a few words, saying, “It is hard to find words to say exactly what this man has meant to myself, my classmates, and so many other students and families from Spring Hill High School. He was the epitome of what an educator should be. He had our hearts and we always knew we had his, even if something landed us in the hot seat! His love and loyalty to us was never in question, from the moment we were just the “munchkins” to the day we received our diploma, he ALWAYS pushed us to be more. We always KNEW we were loved and cared for.”
Although he is gone from this earth, he is not likely to be forgotten any time soon. He left his mark on so many throughout his years as a teacher, a principal and a superintendent and his leadership and dedication to his students and friends will never be forgotten.