Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr. was a giant of a man - both in stature and heart. Some people describe him as a big teddy bear of a man who always put children first. During his life, he lived for his family, his faith, and the children he served and loved as a teacher.
Perhaps Hatchett is best known for the thousands of children he served as a teacher for more than 20 years, or the tens of thousands of children he served as a member of the NISD Board of Trustees for five years, or the millions he swore to serve and protect as a member of the United States Air Force for 22 years.
Following a career in the military, Hatchett received bachelor's and master's degrees in occupational education and interdisciplinary studies from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos. His teaching career spanned 22 years, starting at Leon Valley Elementary School, where he as an instructional assistant, coach, and bus driver. He also taught at Jones Middle School for 10 years and later at Jay High School for seven years.
Hatchett was well known as an advocate for equal opportunity for all students, particularly those who were disenfranchised. He never gave up on any student who needed help. His involvement didn't end at the classroom door either. He was known to go visit students' homes to find out why they missed school on a particular day, or call them to make sure everything was going well in their lives. He always offered himself as a listener to his students and regularly dispensed advice and guidance. Hatchettâ€™s greatest strength was letting students know that he really, really cared about them. He always encouraged his students to be successful in their lives.
His desire to serve children and his community eventually led him to serve on the Northside Board of Trustees. During his tenure on the Board, NISD passed a $495 million bond to build additional classrooms in the fast growth school district and welcomed a new Superintendent. The Northside Board of Trustees was also recognized as a Texas Honor Board, one of the top five schools boards in the state.
Hatchett was a man of great faith - faith in others, faith in children, and faith in God. He served 25 years as chairman of the deacon board at Grace First Baptist Church. Married to Bettye for 47 years, they had four children (all Jay High School graduates): Thomas Jr., Derrick, Michael, and Tonia. Hatchett passed away on Aug. 30, 2003.
The Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr. legacy will live on in the lives of the students at Hatchett Elementary School, where the staff continue to emulate Hatchett's life in supporting the â"Generations of Learners" to come.