Powell retires as High Hopes director; Long takes over | Local News | #specialneeds | #kids

High Hopes Development Center Executive Director Gail Powell spent her last day like she does any other day, working with the children the school serves and introducing the community to the work the school does for children with special needs. 

“I love the mission and the children of High Hopes with all my heart, and that sentiment will not change when I move to a different role — that of volunteer and advocate — moving forward,” she said.

She also spent time on her last day thanking the Franklin Noon Rotary Club for their contributions to High Hopes over the years. Powell likened Franklin Noon Rotary’s past President Mark Tumblin’s hike to Mt. Everest to her relationship to the Rotary. 
“Your club has been the oxygen for High Hopes,” Powell said. “I feel like the club has been there to give us the oxygen we need and to be there for us when we needed something desperately and to give us encouragement.” 

The Franklin Noon Rotary has sponsored two therapy rooms at High Hopes where the rooms don the name of the club. 

“We love supporting High Hopes, and Gail has guided High Hopes with her leadership and community involvement,” Franklin Noon President John Abbott said. “She is a true inspiration for the kids she serves but also for our club to show us that dreams can come true.” 

Powell has led High Hopes to tremendous growth over the past 15 years. When she joined in 2007, High Hopes was located in a leased warehouse space, serving 160 kids with 34 employees. Today, the state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot facility located on High Hopes Court in Franklin serves more than 1,000 children from 20 Middle Tennessee counties, with 82 employees. 

Powell said after 15 years, the view is beautiful. 
“You can’t keep doing these big hikes, it’s hard,” she said. “It’s time for a different view, and I am completely confident in our new leader, Alan Long. He is so capable and qualified with impeccable character.  We are in good hands.” 

Long comes from an extensive career in education. Most recently, he served as the associate head of Lipscomb Academy Lower School. Prior to that, he served as associate head of Lipscomb Academy Upper School, a transition he made following seven years as a teacher with Williamson County Schools.  

“I am blessed to be in this position. Gail had a vision for what was going to happen here,” Long said. “I have known Gail for many years, and I know her work will continue in this community.” 

Long spoke about his work in the corporate world before getting into education, working in human resources for 22 years. 

“I love working with people, and I love developing relationships,” he said. “I love the stories of people, but I knew I wanted to touch the lives and souls and hearts of people in a different way than I did in HR. I always knew I would end up in education at some point.”

Long said this is a great opportunity to take his last 15 years of education experience combined with 22 years of HR and operations and apply them all to his job at High Hopes.  

Long resides in Franklin with his wife, Charla, and four children. He’s excited to work in the city he resides.

“My job has taken me out of Franklin for the past several years, and I am grateful to be working in Franklin and the Williamson County community,” he said.

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