Coach dribbles his way to administrative position

Ashton Long, Staff Writer

An assistant principal’s office is two doors down on the left side of the hallway just across from the mailroom. In a black leather chair, Shane Ratliff takes the seat Sandy Martin once occupied for the position of athletic director and assistant principal. Ratliff wanted to be in education, but little did he know he would become an administrator at Starr’s Mill High School.

“It was very surreal for me to walk in, [and] come in here because she was very very inviting,” Ratliff said.“She practically moved out and was all ready for me to move in while she was still in the office.”

At the end of the 2016-17 school year, Martin made her way out of the door to the life of retirement allowing Ratliff to begin fulfilling her position. For Ratliff, it will be tough living up to what Martin was as an athletic director. During her years at the Mill, the sports teams accumulated two Director’s Cups, with her last year highlighted by a school-record number of varsity sports teams making the state playoffs.

On the first day, “I get to see a lot of smiling faces and the teachers are happy to be here,” Ratliff said. “It was great. At this point I am trying to get to learn as much as I can and do to prepare teachers for the real world really.”

As a child of three, Ratliff grew up in a household where his parents were always involved in academics and athletics. Ratliff’s mother, an English teacher and a counselor, worked at his high school in addition to later working at Campbell High School in Fairburn. Students adored her and inspired the young Ratliff to go into education to change young people’s lives along with viewing education in a whole new perspective.

United States history teacher Jon Gloer was not surprised to hear that Ratliff pursued his career in education. Ratliff’s mother was well-known in Fulton County and worked with Gloer at Campbell High School.

Education, however, was not always on Ratliff’s mind. Ratliff’s thought for a couple of years that he would follow in the tracks of his grandfather’s business when his grandfather retired. But when Ratliff quickly entered college, he knew education would be his profession.

“My first teaching job was at Fayette Middle School,” Ratliff said. “My first impression, I was a bit overwhelmed with it.”

Brand new to his job, Ratliff loved to work with students and educators. He knew when he started teaching, he wanted to be a faculty member and have a position as a coach for his entire working career. Eventually he was waiting to move to a high school level to further his instructing in athletics.

When he began coaching sports, he started with middle school softball and basketball. Later when he moved to the high school level, Ratliff coached basketball for several years along with coaching football.

I think he will be a good administrator and is a good person to fit that job.

— senior Emily Nieuwstraten

Although Ratliff coached sports, he still pursued his number one career choice in education. He taught U.S. history but he desired the ability to impact more students. Last year, Ratliff was fortunate to do an administrative internship through the county. It prepped him to take on the leadership role of an assistant principal and when he was ready to start applying to jobs, one opened up at Starr’s Mill. Ratliff took the chance and acquired the job.

“[Ratliff] was a really good teacher and he really knew a lot about history and did a good [job] of expressing all the criteria,” senior and varsity girls basketball player Emily Nieuwstraten said. “I think he will be a good administrator and is a good person to fit that job.”

The biggest question for Ratliff coming into administration was obtaining a new position where he would be working over his former peers. Initially, Ratliff believed that it was going to be a little awkward but he sees himself working with everybody as equals to make the best out of school.

“He is not much older than my son,” Gloer said. Gloer went on to explain that when Ratliff came to Starr’s Mill that he was very young when he started. 

With Ratliff not seeing his former peers as his bosses anymore, the first few weeks in administration have been time-consuming. At the time that he was a teacher, he knew what his schedule would be. Yet, as an assistant principal he does not have a set routine to follow and keeps a constant awareness that his plans might change on a short notice.

“It is just a balancing act,” Ratliff said. “You may not have lesson plans, but you do have to prepare for whatever you [have to do] to get it done today.”