Landing Mercer High principal job a homecoming for local man

Making a difference at the school where he graduated — that’s the motivation behind Spencer Tatum taking the position of principal at Mercer County Senior High School.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity … I want to come back and make a difference at the school I graduated from and where I’ve lived all my life,” Tatum said of his homecoming.

Tatum has three sons in the Mercer County school system: Seth, Nathan and Andrew; he and his wife Paula have remained in the county with their sons throughout his career. Tatum fills a void left by Malissa Hutchins, who left the position to become principal at Washington County High School.

Besides being a 1988 graduate of Mercer County High School and a lifelong resident of Mercer County, Tatum also began his educational career in the county, teaching at the former Harrodsburg High School.

He started as a coach and substitute teacher there, before becoming a social studies teacher at the school in 1995. During his stint there (1995-2004), Tatum was the athletic director for two years, the head boys basketball coach for seven years, the head baseball coach for two years, an assistant basketball coach for four years and an assistant football coach for four years.

“It was a great experience,” he said.

In 2004, a few years before the districts merged, Tatum moved to Mercer County High School, where he stayed until 2013, teaching social studies and working as an assistant boys basketball coach for five years, an assistant girls basketball coach for four years, an assistant baseball coach for three years and the girls golf coach for one year.

In 2013, Tatum took the position of assistant principal at Boyle County High School, where he has remained until now.

He said he’s grateful for the past four years.

“The four years that I’ve been here (at Boyle County) I have — I can’t expound on how well it’s gone,” he said. “I’ve learned tremendously from the central office staff, the staff here at the school and the students.

“I’m leaving on good terms.”

Tatum also said he will miss the students and staff.

“Working at Boyle County has been a great learning experience for me. The administration has been unbelievable. … I’m excited and looking forward to the job, but it is bittersweet,” he said. “I had such a great time here, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity … I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge of being a head principal.”

He admits he’s a little nervous about tackling the role of principal, something new for Tatum.

“I have a little nervousness there,” he said. “I feel like these last four years at Boyle County have prepared me, but I know there are hills and valleys with any job.”

But more than nervous, he’s excited.

“I’m extremely excited about this new role. I want Mercer County High School to be a school that our community can rally around and have pride in. I’m looking forward to working with the staff and students,” Tatum said. “My goal is, when the students graduate, whatever they pursue … it’s successful. I want them to gain the skills they need to have a successful transition.”

He said he has been “overwhelmed at the response” from people in both Mercer and Boyle counties regarding the move.

“It’s a great situation … I can’t express how happy I am to be able to go back home and work in Mercer County, but also how working at Boyle County was such a good experience,” Tatum said. “People have been outstanding.”