LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Jim Van Hooser

Position: Upper School Assistant Principal
School: Tallulah Falls School
School District: Tallulah Falls School
City, State: Tallulah Falls, GA

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Music that Describes Jim

Jim Van Hooser was nominated by his colleague, Jennifer Walker.

When students and teachers walk into Tallulah Falls School on a cold and rainy morning, they are greeted by name with a warm smile, a fist or elbow bump, and always some kind of personal comment from the assistant principal, Mr. Van Hooser. This greeting is often accompanied by music coming from his phone and some kind of joke to solicit a smile. A beloved retired math teacher, winning basketball coach, and favored public high school principal of 20+ years, Coach Van (as he is affectionately known) now works as the assistant principal in the private international boarding school located in Tallulah Falls, Georgia.

Coach Van will take the time to sit and visit with the students, engage in the lesson, ask thoughtful questions, and again, make people laugh. It is an unusual day for every single teacher not to be greeted in their own classroom by Coach Van. He pays attention to the daily lessons and asks teachers and students about them with genuine interest. He reads every book the students are assigned to read so that he can ask them about it. Coach Van gets to know each student well-enough to ask about personal interests. He is always drumming up new and creative ways for the students to feel celebrated, loved, and excited about coming to school. These ideas to enrich the school environment are somehow turned so that the students think the ideas were theirs. His methods for getting approval for the funding of such events are met with enthusiasm and support, and his strategic influences to steer teachers to improve their practices are done with a gentle guidance that leaves them feeling supported rather than chastised.

The whole world knows that this year has been challenging for educators. The recent chapter of racial tensions, the evolving understanding of political correctedness, and of course, COVID-19, gave the administration a tight rope to walk. Over the summer, Coach Van took extra care to listen to students with complaints about race relations. He made it clear to teachers and students that he was interested in being a part of the conversation to improve and to understand. He did the recommended reading to search for the enlightenment a 50-something year old white man might need teaching in a school in the south. Coach Van listened. He cared. He admits we all have a long way to go.

Tallulah Falls School is made up of students from all over the world. Some students are local (north Georgia mountains), some come from Atlanta, and others come from 23 different countries around the world. Coach Van gets to know every student well enough that they seek him out, even if they know they might be in trouble. Unfortunately, several students from other countries have only been learning online this year. Coach Van is not afraid to join their Zoom classes to simply participate in the conversation and establish a connection with those students. He is always greeted with a smile and a laugh.

"Jim Van Hooser is a dynamo. He is the Duracell bunny. He never stops," Walker said. "When Coach Van is not roaming the halls and the classrooms, he is tutoring math, walking around the lunch room collecting trash, listening to students' personal concerns, creating new ideas, loading the buses, helping the maintenance and cleaning staff, or staying after school to watch a sporting or arts event. The students, lunch ladies, teachers, and administration all love Coach Van. His love, encouragement, and shine brightens the day of everyone around him. He is a true LifeChanger because he makes sure every person around him knows they are valued, loved, and important. His unfailing positivity is the best gift a person can have, not just for a young person who is growing up in a difficult world, but for a grown person going to work every day."

Comments (101)

Albert Jeffries Jr. Posted over a year ago

Hey Coach Van!!!! I know you probably don’t remember me but I played for you at Berkmar High School in 93. I was in the 9th grade then and started on the JV team and played varsity. I let after that year and moved back to Mississippi. I have always thought about you and what you were up to! Man, you had a positive impact on my life without even trying. I hope you receive this message because I just wanted to thank you for being a major role in my life in such a short amount of time. You tried to get me to stay and play with you and wish I would have listened! Life is good for me and I hope the same with you!!!!

Cindy Miracle Posted over a year ago

Coach van is a very caring individual. He makes himself available to help whenever possible and it is obvious that he cares about the students, the parents and the school’s needs. He always offers to help and always has a smile on his face! Best wishes to him in the future!

Florence Wang Posted over a year ago

I really like Coach Van's smiling face. It feels refreashing and affable! For my freshmen year, Coach Van came to my table and say hello to all of us every single lunch. That's so warm and touching!! Coach Van absolutely worth this prize. He is a true life changer! He linked TFS students and faculties into a family. Congradulations!

Iray Adeleke Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is the nicest person ever. He is the person to go to when you're feeling down. He is a kind-hearted person, amazing humor, I don't know what this school would be without him!

Linda Wang Posted over a year ago

Starting high school was really hard for me and my friend last year. However, the smile and greeting Coach Van give to us each day when we walked into the lobby had motivated us to keep trying the best we can. Moreover, his humorous personality always gave us a respite in the tense high school life. Therefore, it is our honor to have him here at the TFS!

Tamia Moss Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is the most caring and upbeat person I've ever met. From my first day entering Tallulah he was the first person to greet me and welcome me with open arms. He always tries to put a smile on my face when my day isn't going so great. He loves to make jokes and joking around with me. He is always trying to encourage me to do my best at all times. He is someone I would want to be like.

Jenna Chesser Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is a very caring individual and aspires to do what is best for every student. He checks on me everyday asking how I am and I even see him walking down the hall telling others hello with a big smile on his face. Coach Van loves everyone at our school and his joy and love illuminates around him and it is obvious he cares for all of us. I remember at the beginning of the year I wasn't sure of where to go for certain classes and he said if I ever needed anything that he'd put whatever he was doing down, just to help. Just the other day I needed help with some math homework and he helped me until I understood completely. Coach Van is an amazing person and I am very blessed to have him in my life.

Tessa Foor Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is a very happy, very kind person that makes everyone feel accepted. He's always uplifting, encouraging, and positive. He'll always be there to help when you need something and he's very dependable. He definitely deserves this award!

Andrew Whittle Posted over a year ago

Coach Van Hooser is one of the most welcoming people I have ever met. On the first day of school, he was always saying hi and helping students out. He always helps us when we need it and just says hi all the time to students.

Henrry X Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is the best! I am excited to go to school every morning because of coach Van. Coach Vans says Hi to everyone. Coach Van lightens up my mood every time I see him. I especially like Coach Van's pat on the back. His pat on the back gives me energy! I feel so ready to face all the challenges when I receive the pat on the back from Coach Van. Coach Van is always happy. Just seeing Coach Van and hearing his voice can make anyone happy instantly. Coach Van helped me a lot last year, and he will continue to help everyone student. All in all, Coach Van is the best!

Miracle Bain Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is positive light-hearted person. He is and expert at putting a smile on students face and make us laugh. He is an adequate candidate for this award.

Emery Sims Posted over a year ago

Coach Van's passion for life and community is very evident in his interconnectedness within the school. He radiates joy and compassion, and his presence in a classroom eases the day to day monotony. He frequently goes out of his way to serve others and always does so cheerfully. He often greets me in the halls or takes up my plate at lunch. His role at Tallulah Falls is unique, and I am grateful for what he does.

Denika Lightbourne Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is the best person I have ever met. His positivity reminds everyone to keep going every day. With a smile on his face, he continuously encourages us and especially lets us know areas of improvement to become a better person. Coach van is extremely kind, helpful, joyful, influential, and so much more. Best of luck Coach!

Aarington Brown Posted over a year ago

Coach Van never fails to put a smile on the faces of students that walk past him every day. He makes everyone feel included and as they belong somewhere. High school is a hard chapter in a person's life and Coach Van ensures that he makes it as enjoyable as possible. I love Coach Van very much and he deserves this award for the hard work he puts in every day.

Addie Higbie Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is always happy and smiling. Every morning he stands at the front and greets everyone and tells them to have a great day! He's always walking around and spreading his joy and he's always there when someone has a question. He definitely deserves this award!

Amy Henriques Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is a wonderful person who takes time to talk to most of the students each day! For instance, every morning he asks me what crazy earrings I have on. He truly cares about each and every one of TFS's students, and he 100% deserves this award!

Walker Posted over a year ago

The most memorable thing for me about Coach Van is in the morning. Every day I get off the bus and come into the building, he is there jamming out to his favorite uplifting and positive song. It really shows his character that he can enjoy even the smallest things in life.

Zoja Cerovic Posted over a year ago

I started this school just a few weeks ago and the person that helped me adjust the most is Coach Van.In the first moments of meeting him I was amazed by his kindness and generosity.He made me feel like I belong and makes every student feel special and appreciated.He is the first person I see when I arrive to school and his smile is enough to make my day.I can't think of anyone here that doesn't absolutely adore and appreciate him.Coach Van is more than school administrator, he genuinely cares about the students and is friend to everyone.He's always happy to talk and cheer you up and has changed and influenced so many lives.I'm so lucky to know him.So congratulations Coach Van.You're amazing!

Hannah Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is one of the first faces I see every day. He is always smiling and always ready to lend a helping hand. He truly cares about every aspect of TFS. Coach Van goes out of his way to make the students at Tallulah Falls School have a great high school experience. He enjoys connecting with his students, not only knowing their faces and names but getting to know each one of them. Overall coach Van is a great nominee for this award!

Leah Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is a very helpful and knowledgeable person. I have seen him helping multiple people with their school work and even accompany those who sit alone at lunch to make sure they not lonely or feeling down. When he walks inside a classroom he would help brighten the room when there has been a long and very informative lecture. He makes people feel as though they are important during a conversation.

Cecily Tucker Posted over a year ago

Coach Van was one of the first people to greet me, my first day freshman year. Every single morning he greets each student by name with a smiling face. He always makes sure that he knows each students name and always makes conversation with you in the mornings. He always makes sure to connect with each and everyone of us here at TFS. He is more deserving of this award than anyone I know!!

Emilee Posted over a year ago

I haven't known Coach Van for very long, but I see him every morning when I walk into school and every afternoon when I leave. He always greets me with a "Hey, Em!" and a smile. Coach Van really brightens up everyone's day at TFS and I look forward to seeing him again tomorrow.

chloe Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is one of the kindest, most respectful person I know. He truly cares for his students and wants to see them succeed in life. He will always bring a smile to your face. Coach Van is the most deserving person for the award.

Seth Justice Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is always fun to be around he is always supportive and helps students whenever he can. He is always eager to interact with us. Every time I come into the school he greets me by name. Even when I first came to the high school, he knew my name in a matter of days. He always wishes everyone a good morning no matter what. Every morning he brightens everyone's day by simply being there.

Mei Hui Posted over a year ago

As a high school student at Tallulah Falls School, I don’t think it would be possible to attend TFS without knowing the beloved Coach Van. Any student walking through the doors their first day would walk out knowing Coach Van personally as a role model, motivator, and friend. Every day, he shares smiles, jokes, and conversations with students, administrators, and faculty. Whether it’s by chatting his way through the lunchroom visiting every table or by peeking into each and every classroom in the hallway to say hello, Coach Van finds a way to interact with every single individual on a daily basis. If you are fortunate enough to know Coach Van, you would know that he cares to get to know you.

Maddie Posted over a year ago

Whether it's a hello in the morning or asking how school is or even wishing me luck at practice Coach Van always seems to care. With other teachers and faculty, it can seem they're trying to get through the day as much as you are. However, Coach Van is completely different. He always seems happy to see you and will always help you with whatever he can.

Lois Ibeh Posted over a year ago

I would describe Coach Van Hooser as one of the many good roots at TFS, that makes a tree blossom, by giving it's leaves and fruits life. He is someone who shows his love by kind words and most of all through his service of action and dedication to his colleagues, and students he educates. He has influenced me to always put a smile on my face not because things are easy but because things would get better.

Cassidy Hayes Posted over a year ago

Coach Van has made such a great impact on everyone at Tallulah Falls. I can't say there isn't a time you will see Coach Van without a smile on his face, he is always making an effort to get to know each and every student. Just about every Monday, he makes it his mission to tell everyone good morning. He will open the door to every classroom, point at everyone individually, and say good morning over and over again until everyone has been told good morning. He is also always offering to tutor kids in any subject, and is constantly building us up.

Anna-Reese Akers Posted over a year ago

Coach Van was one of the first people I heard about when coming into high school. Anyone who told me about him always said, "He's great. You'll like him a lot." I have found this comment to be true. Whether it's saying good morning every day, or smiling at students in the halls, there's always been something about him that everyone likes. He makes an effort to learn everyone's names and address them. He also takes his own time out of the day to send out an inspiring quote every single afternoon. He's a very genuine person and I think every student and staff member can agree. I have yet to hear one negative comment about him yet. Ask any member in the school about him and you'll see a smile. We all have a story or two about him that will lighten any situation. Once a member of TFS hears the name, Coach Van, a thousand words run through their heads that will put a smile on their face.

Annabelle Jackson Posted over a year ago

Every time I walk into the high school lobby, I get greeted with a cheerful good morning by Coach Van. It might sounds small but if you've met him you know that it can easily make your morning 100 times better! He always supports students no matter what they're doing, whether it be academics or other activities and hobbies. He always makes sure to interact with students and acts as though he has known us for years (sometimes its true!), making jokes and asking how everything is going. Knowing Coach Van and being able to have him as an outlet in my life is one of the most relieving feelings! I definitely think that Coach Van deserves this award!

Addy McCoy Posted over a year ago

Coach Van was the very first person I met at the high school. Immediately, I felt so welcomed and already apart of the TFS Upper School community. He never fails to make me smile and can always make my day better. He welcomes students every morning with a happy, up-beat song and a fist bump. Coach Van often comes and sits in our classes, not to critic us, but to become one of us. He joins in on the lessons, ask questions, and he genuinely cares about our what we are learning. Coach Van really is a joy to be around and every single person on this campus can agree that he is a life changer.

Julianne Shirley Posted over a year ago

The first time I met Coach Van was this year at open house. He was very welcoming and extremely helpful to make me feel welcome to the high school. Not only does Coach Van greet each and everyone every morning, but has a smile under his mask too. Coach Van is a big part of Tallulah Falls School and always has something positive to bring to the table such as emails he sends out every night for the next day. The emails include the important events for the week, words of wisdom, and even funny pictures! The little things that Coach Van does show how much he genuinely cares for each and everyone at Tallulah Falls. With all this said, Coach Van is an outstanding contender for this amazing award!

Dani Prince Posted over a year ago

There are many remarkable things about Coach Van. He is always at the front of the school, greeting students by name as they enter for the day. He always has something to say to us, whether it is a comment about a past sporting event that we played in, a joke, or just asking us how we're doing. He also randomly comes into our classes and makes jokes, and often, he will stop what he's doing and help a student with a math problem. He is always in the lunchroom, and he often clears tables for students and carries the dishes back to the kitchen. He was the very first person that I talked to when I came to the Upper School, and he was very welcoming. I also noticed how he made a point to learn the names of all the freshman and new students on campus by the first week of school. It is obvious that he truly cares for all the students, and he definitely deserves this award!

Eli Damron Posted over a year ago

Coach Van puts a smile on mine and so many people's faces throughout the day. He takes the extra time to make sure he learns everyone's names and he connects with every student in many different ways. He greets you with a smile as you walk in, and he never fails to help every student have a better day. Personally, he takes time to speak with me and help me with many things, including math. He is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met and he makes it so much more enjoyable to come to school. I am so glad he is a nominee for this award and I couldn't think of any better person to win this award. Thank you to Coach Van for all you do!

Claire Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is always so positive and greets everyone at the door in the morning with a smile on his face. He visits the tables at lunch and asks how our day is going and makes the school environment so much more postive. He is so kind and makes school a lot better. He helps us with homework and just makes our day better. :)

Lucy Ladd Posted over a year ago

Coach Van has helped make my freshman year of high school a lot more relaxing. He always says good morning to everybody that walks through the door. He can tell whether you're in a good or bad mood, and if you're not having a good day, he always makes sure it gets turned around. He constantly helps people that are in need, no matter what it is for. After getting a really bad grade on a test twice this year, Coach Van took time out of his busy day both times to personally go over everything with me to help me understand the material. I didn't have to ask him, he did it because he wanted to help. He's always so patient and kind, no matter the circumstance. You can tell he really cares about every individual at this school. I'm really glad to have a supporting role model like him in my life.

Tyler Brightwell Posted over a year ago

CONGRATULATIONS !! on this well deserved honor. You are much appreciated by the parents, the the teachers, the students, and the staff. Tallulah Falls is fortunate to have you on their team!! Thanks for all you do. Tyler & Kevin Brightwell

Josiah Turney Posted over a year ago

Coach van is a very kind and caring man. He always puts the students before himself. There are sometimes where I need help with math and he's always there to help out. He also helps clean and take students' dishes at lunch when there done and is always willing to help out. He is very deserving of this award!!!

Reese Wilson Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is the first person I see every morning when I get to school, and he always puts a smile on my face. He knows very student by name and talks with lots of us at lunch. He is a very positive and uplifting staff member at TFS and our school would not be the same without him.

Chichi Nwachukwu Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is an amazingly caring and positive person. Every day when I walk into the school building he says a quick greeting and ends it with a joke which always makes my day better. I don't know anyone else more deserving of this award.

Keelie Parks Posted over a year ago

Coach Van cares about everyone! He greets us when we walk into the school every morning and talks to us when we are at lunch to see how we are doing. He does so much for the school and we greatly appreciate him! Congratulations on getting nominated and he deserves this award!

Bryan Cope Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is one of the most kind and caring people you"ll ever meet. Almost every morning, he's at the lobby to greet you and talk to you. If you're having a bad day, or even if you aren't coach will be there to cheer you up and tell a few jokes. Coach van is very interactive with everyone, and I usually see him every day more than any other teacher. He's always trying to help and is always happy. He deserves this award.

Maddie Posted over a year ago

Ever since I've been here at the high school, Coach Van has never failed to brighten my day. He is kindhearted and always there to offer me help whenever I need it. This past week I got injured at practice and Coach Van has done so much to help me get around campus. His words of encouragement always make me feel better. Every time I see him at the front office, in the halls, or when he's walking around to each class he gives me a wave and a smile, and sometimes those two actions are just something you need to cheer you up. Coach Van deserves this award because he has impacted so many lives like mine. I'm so grateful to have a mentor and advisor like Coach Van at my school!

Katie Grace Scaramuzzo Posted over a year ago

Everyone morning when I walk into the school building I am met with Coach Van. He lights mine and other student's days by always saying good morning, telling a joke, or playing music. Coach Van is very caring and never sizes the opportunity to make others happy. He does anything in his power to help other students such as myself. One morning I was struggling with math and he sat down next to me and helped me understand the matirel. In addition, he always goes out of his way to go into every single classroom and says "good morning" to quite literally every single student/teacher in that classroom. Congratulations om your award, Coach Van! You deserve it.

India Allen Posted over a year ago

Every day when you walk into the school building, Coach Van is there smiling and greeting students. Since the first week of school, he has become like a best friend and a mentor to all of us. He is always ready to listen to us and to offer advice. My family is in the process of adopting a little boy and he always asks how that is going and comment on how awesome that is and how excited he is for us. Also, any time I need someone to proofread an email or ask a question about an assignment, he is there. Coach Van is so caring, kind, and dependable. He is very deserving of this nomination. :)

Hattie Cantrell Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is a great person to everyone around him no matter what. He always puts others before himself and is always kind to everyone, even those who may not be kind to him (which I can not think of a single student who does not adore him). I am a very shy and nervous individual, but Coach Van always makes me feel relaxed and joyful with his positive and goofy comments. He knows everyone's name by heart and gets to know everyone. He compliments everyone and notices if they have changed their looks. He knows when someone is upset and always is there to comfort them. Coach Van is a wonderful person to have around.

Nana Posted over a year ago

Thank you for looking out for me.

Will Posted over a year ago

Coach van is my favorite teacher/factuality member ever and he is awesome to have around the school. It makes my day when he greets everyone in the morning.

Cindy Miracle Posted over a year ago

Coach van is a very caring individual. He makes himself available to help whenever possible and it is obvious that he cares about the students, the parents and the school’s needs. He always offers to help and always has a smile on his face! Best wishes to him in the future!

Madi Ramey Posted over a year ago

Coach Van was one of the first faces I saw when I first came to TFS my freshman year. Seeing his smiling face every morning comforted me every time I walked into the school. He always makes sure to know every ones names and faces so he can connect with each and every one of us. He is more than deserving for this award!!

Ashley Farris Posted over a year ago

Approachable, joyful, funny, genuine, many adjectives dance in my head when I think of Coach Van. He is a blessing wherever he goes and I am so glad I have the opportunity to work with him. Well deserved!

Kelli Bly Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is usually one of the first people I see every morning when I come into the school building. If I miss him upon entering, I can always count on him to pop into my classroom to see how I am doing or find out what's going on in my class that day. He frequently joins in on my lessons, asks questions, and comments on discussions. The students feel as comfortable with him in the classroom as the teachers do. He is a genuine person and a great addition to our administration. Congratulations on this recognition! It is well-deserved.

Christy Posted over a year ago

I am in a unique position, Coach Van. I heard of the legend of VanHooser before I met him. I taught math at the school where you were a math teacher and principal for 20 years before coming to Tallulah Falls. Even after your time there, teachers still tell stories of you and speak fondly of you. At the same time, my daughter was at TFS and would come home and tell me about how Coach Van sat with them at lunch and asked their opinion on how to improve the school and met them in the mornings with random music and a fist bump. I saw you as the master of ceremonies at Basketball Midnight Madness and as the coach of the boys basketball team. Now, I have the privilege of working with you. I see you walking the halls daily, rarely in your office, building relationships and making sure every kid feels seen. As a teacher I feel your support. When you walk in my room it doesn't feel like you are looking for a mistake. It feels like you are there for support. A career in education is hard, whether we are in a public or private school. I won't make it to the number of years you have served, because I started late in life, but I have been in this profession long enough to appreciate what you have done and the lives you have touched. I am grateful that my children and myself have been blessed by your influence.

Margaret Lynne Jackson Posted over a year ago

My name is Maggie Jackson, and I am a senior at Tallulah Falls. I can't say my high school experience would've been quite the same without Coach Van... Our current vice principal was previously my ninth-grade algebra teacher and (luckily) my sophomore year geometry teacher. These past few years have had some ups and downs, and at every turn, I can recall Coach Van always being there, whether it was just a passing greeting or a much-needed hug. It's hard to imagine high school without him, and it will be even harder not having him around in college :) Thank you so much for everything you do!!!

Deborah Posted over a year ago

I have known Jim Van Hooser since 1996 when he became a fellow member of the math department at Habersham Central High School. From the first introduction to him in the hallway, I have known he is one of a kind in more ways than one. As evident with the many comments already posted, as well as the nomination that was submitted by Jennifer Walker, Jim cares deeply about his students, his faculty, his staff, and the community he serves. Jim and I taught together in the same department from 1996 until he became my principal in 2006. This has allowed me the privilege of observing him as a teacher, a coach, and a leader of a school of 1500+ students. First of all, Jim Van Hooser is one of the funniest men I have ever known. Furthermore, he is knowledgeable in many different subject areas. I will always remember that he can name all of the countries of Africa!! He has taught a variety of classes, in addition to mathematics, which is his area of concentration. With all that being said, I would like to focus on something that I do not think anyone has addressed thus far in any comments that have been posted. In May of 1998, Jim had to undergo emergency surgery on his brain. He was diagnosed with Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation) which is where blood vessels in the brain cluster together. Miraculously, it was caught in time, and he survived. However, the surgery left him almost completely paralyzed on his right side. To this day, he has limited use of his right arm, hand, leg, and foot. I have NEVER, in the many years since this health crisis, heard him complain or make excuses for his handicap. He would likely be upset that I called it a handicap. He always makes light of it. He never dwells on it. This condition required him to learn to write left-handed. Being a math teacher, this was not an easy task, but he did it, and he taught it very well for many years in his classroom. And when he left the classroom, he continued to teach those who needed help in his office, at the lunch table, in the hallway, or wherever needed. He also coached basketball for many years. Everyone knows the use of your right side is helpful to be an active and productive coach. This never stopped him. Jim was an amazing coach and even coached his team to state playoffs. His efforts as a coach and a teacher were quantifiable. What cannot be “graded” regarding Jim is what I find to be his greatest attribute: his heart. Jim cares about EVERYONE, and he will work behind the scenes to ensure everyone is taken care of. The custodians, the lunchroom staff, the maintenance crew, the grounds-workers all know that Jim cares about them. No matter what physical work is needed to be done, Jim is working along-side those who are tasked with a job. Often times, the task is already done….. by JIM!!! Teachers see that he arrives at school by 6 am and often stays back way into the night. This year has been like none other with the pandemic and all the changes from what is “normal” school. Jim has given his all to make this year as normal as possible for our students. This next example is a perfect “Jim moment”. Monday of our last full week with students before leaving for Christmas break, I arrived at my usual 6:45 am to find Jim by himself with one arm, struggling to string lights around the railing of our school front lobby. I asked him why he was doing this with only one week left, and he said, “Our kids deserve some Christmas joy.” …..THIS….. IS JIM!!!

Phil and Martha Black & Trent Toler Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is greatly respected and well liked by most everyone. We know Trent really likes Coach Van & respects him to!! Great job Coach Van, keep up the wonderful job you do! Thank you so much for caring about our children.

Linda Shadburn Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on this deserving nomination and thank you for investing in the lives of our children. My first and only personal encounter with Coach Van was at our scheduled appointment for open house/registration just before the beginning of this school year. My son is a freshman, transitioning from the middle to the upper school. He gave the warmest welcome which truly felt so genuine and he immediately engaged with my son to try to get to know him. He definitely made a lasting impression and it was evident that he is passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of our students. Again, thank you for your dedication!

David Chester Posted over a year ago

Creating positive culture is a key component of leadership. Mr. VanHooser understands this concept better than most and has taken this to the next level. He is a nurturing teacher and role model to our students, as well as a caring mentor to our faculty and staff. He has a special charisma that encourages people to be a part of whatever he is doing. He has the heart of a true servant and seeks to use it to make those around him better. Mr VanHooser takes the time to get to know the pulse of the student body; cultivating relationships and a sense of trust that work together to make TFS a stronger community. We appreciate Coach Van and the impact that he has on the day to day events her at TFS. He accentuates what it means to be a Light in the Mountains!

Ashley Posted over a year ago

I have been lucky to have Coach Van as both my high school principal and a now as a colleague. As a high school student, I personally experienced how Coach Van worked hard to make all of his students feel known. He would often see us walking down the halls and ask us how a sporting event, band concert, play, or test had gone. It made such an impact on me as a student, to be known and cared about by a teacher and administrator; that when I followed my passion and became a teacher myself, I strived to build the same relationship with my own students. During my first few years teaching I was fortunate to have the classroom next to Coach Van's. Every day during class changes as we stood in the hallways and welcomed students into our classroom, Coach Van offered up bits of wisdom from his 20+ years of teaching. These moments of freely given advice, encouragement, and sometimes even pep talks, exponentially helped me as a new teacher to not become overwhelmed and continually grow as an educator. Without Coach Van's influence, I don't think I would be where I am today. Thank you for everything Coach!

Tim Stamey Posted over a year ago

After spending a career in special operations and following that up with many years in leadership positions at the corporate level, it's hard at my age to find individuals that you look up to as heroes and mentors. Coach Van is one such individual. There are many people who have worked hard and created their own success but to find one with a servant heart is rare. He always puts everyone's needs before his own, listens, and seeks the truth before making wise decisions. He is well loved by students and faculty alike because he is genuine and caring. I have to admit that I'm jealous of him because I wish I could be the man he is and have such a positive impact on so many lives.

Kelly Woodall Posted over a year ago

It has been my pleasure to witness the sincere love and devotion to students of Jim Van Hooser in two schools. No matter the situation, Jim always tries to see things from the perspective of improving the lives of students. Engaging students in conversation, words of wisdom, or just a fist-bump makes his day. Even behind a mask, you can know he's smiling and will have words to make your day brighter. He is truly deserving of this recognition.

Scott Neal Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is an exceptional educator! Whether it was coaching successful teams whose players still connect with him regularly, teaching math in a manner that was fun and challenging, or communicating well with any and everyone, Coach Van impacts and influences those around him with joy and attractive accountability. He leads by example while uplifting everyone!

Jodi Shanks Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is an amazing educator and mentor. When the Senior class of 2020 was sent home in response to covid, he made sure that each of those students were made to feel special and recognized for their hard work. I know it really meant so much to my Senior when Coach Van pulled up to put a sign in our yard celebrating my sons accomplishments. Please know Coach Van that you are deeply loved and appreciated by many.

Dragana Djermanovic Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is more like a coach of life to our kids. My daughter Nikolina is so happy to work with him and so positive about his attitude and approach. Good luck Sir, and thank you for everything <3 Love from Serbia.

Anna-Paige Barrett Posted over a year ago

My name is Anna and I am a senior at TFS. I am grateful for his love and support for both me and my sister. Last spring after covid hit and the school shifted to virtual learning, he brought my locker contents and my sisters to our home. I had been in the hospital with my epilepsy for 6 weeks. During our hospital stay, he emailed and called to check on my family and me numerous times. He really cares and loves all of his students. I am so thankful I had the honor of being one of Coach Van's students. He works so hard to make sure all the students are happy and feel loved. I know if I ever just need someone to chat with, or need help with math he will always be here. Coach van is so deserving of this award!

Gordon Agingu Posted over a year ago

Congratulations coach Van. This is so true of who you are and we can testify of this to be a true reflection of you. You approachable and make even the most difficult topics easy to talk about. Thank you so much for all you do to the students and their families.

Linda Shadburn Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on this deserving nomination and thank you for investing in the lives of our children. My first and only personal encounter with Coach Van was at our scheduled appointment for open house/registration just before the beginning of this school year. My son is a freshman, transitioning from the middle to the upper school. He gave the warmest welcome which truly felt so genuine and he immediately engaged with my son to try to get to know him. He definitely made a lasting impression and it was evident that he is passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of our students. Again, thank you for your dedication!

Rodney Etienne Posted over a year ago

Congratulations and do continue to do great work. You are appreciated ??.

Beth Huebner Posted over a year ago

Hats off to Coach Jim Van Hooser! His positive outlook and encouragement of everyone as an individua is unparalleled. Students - staff - visitors on campus are all treated as important. Strengths are focused on and recognized across the board. His praise brings smiles and a strengthened sense of self worth as he interacts throughout the day. He is passionate, caring and committed. Thanks for encouraging me when I moved back home and giving me a chance. Best wishes and congratulations to a well deserved honor!

Lowell Hamilton Posted over a year ago

How happy I am that I've had the privilege of crossing paths with this man! I've known him for many years now. I first met him as a head administrator, and then as a teacher, a basketball coach, and as an assistant to a head administrator. Nothing that this man does make him who he is as a man. If you take all of those things away, he would still be Jim! The things I have witnessed about him that are important to him, are things that he will not allow to be taken away from him. DIGNITY, RESPECT, and INTEGRITY. That is the Jim I know, and he does it not only for himself but also for others who may or may not share the same racial, social, or economic circles and background. This is a strength every man should strive to have! Well deserved, Jim!

Heather Henriques Posted over a year ago

Coach Van has made the transition to a new school much easier than expected. He treats every student with respect and dignity, and shows a real interest in their life and activities. I can't say enough how blessed we are to have him at TFS.

Lilly Kate Farrar Posted over a year ago

This has been my first year of high school, and everything has been so new, and sometimes confusing. But, Coach Van has always been available to lend a helping hand. Whether it comes to grades, directions around the school, or if you just need someone to give you a kind hello, Coach Van is the person to go to. He is always seen around campus with a smile on his face, and his joy is contagious to not only the students, but to the faculty/staff too. He is definitely an asset to the Tallulah Falls family, and our upper school community just wouldn't be the same without him. Coach Van is greatly appreciated, and I know my fellow students could say the same. We can't thank him enough!

Pam Gunn Posted over a year ago

As a parent whose child has been fortunate enough to be a student of Coach Van's, I can attest to the effort and dedication he gives his students. He has had such a positive impact on my son's life, and not just at school. I often hear, "Coach Van said..." in the course of a conversation at my house, and it says so much about the man when his words are carried beyond the moment. He is the kind of educator, the kind of person really, who always makes the students he works with know that they are cared for and appreciated. And I hope Coach Van knows that the lives he's been involved in are richer and better because of him. My family and I are very grateful that Coach Van is a wonderful part of our life's mural. Sincere congratulations to you, Coach Van! So very deserved!

Lawson Fulbright Posted over a year ago

Congratulations, Coach Van! I couldn't think of a better person for this award, because being a freshman in high school is not the easiest thing in the world. Coach has helped me get my bearings this year, give me some recommendations for things to do, and crack some good jokes with me to make my day. I don't think I would have made it this year without him and I couldn't thank him enough.

Nancy Almoyan Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is not only an amazing educator, but an amazing person. No one is a stranger to Coach Van. If he doesn't know you, he will get to know you. Both students and adults gravitate to him. I am blessed to work with him and our community is blessed to have him.

Melody M. Henderson Posted over a year ago

Jim, you are such a delight. Congratulations! This is so deserved.

Dana Russell Posted over a year ago

Mr. Van Hooser has been an excellent source of assistance and support for my family since my son entered High School at TFS. He has always gone out of his way to show compassion during difficult times, congratulations when achievements were made and appropriately firm dealing with situations that needed his attention. Our family has been extremely impressed with his leadership and commitment to the well being of the students. He is greatly admired and appreciated, especially in today's world of uncertainty. Thank you Mr. Van Hooser. Dana Russell

Mariya Khanina Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is so funny and supportive, I love him.

Jennifer Jennings Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on a well deserved nomination. You are always so encouraging not only to my children but the entire student body. You make each student feel that they matter! Thank you!

Wendy Jackson Posted over a year ago

Thank you for everything you do each and every day for every student.

Ezekiel Phillips Posted over a year ago

Nothing is better than Coach Van's ever-enthusiastic glow every morning and when he visits your class. His smile is so contagious when you see him at the door- I swear he teleports! He's so engaged in every student- from their art projects to make sure they eat at lunch. The grumpiest morning can always be brightened by his smile and his jokes. I'm not quite sure how he does it, he brings light into any room just by entering. I know I speak for all of us when I say we all love our Coach Van, and there's no one more deserving of this kinda award.

Stella Hatcher Posted over a year ago

Very deserving. I can't say enough about this gentleman.

Kelli Wills Holland Posted over a year ago

Since the day Mr. Van Hooser hired me in 2008, his commitment to students has impressed me. Not a day went by that he didn't directly address students by first and last name and chat with them about their families, activities, and/or interests. He expected the best from both teachers and students and sought ways to personally connect with them. There is no one more deserving of such an award!

Susie Posted over a year ago

Coach Van's remarkable leadership is defined not only by his experience and expertise but most importantly by his ability is to make every single person in our school community feel seen, known and valued. He is warm, supportive, and attentive not only to our students but also to his colleagues. He is a positive feedback machine, and he is always in your corner. His input and feedback have been an incredible source of support for me as a newer teacher, helping me to gain confidence as I refine my practice. Coach Van enriches our school communities in ways that are irreplaceable.

Terri Byers Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is a wonderful educator, administrator, and friend! He cares deeply for his students and his teachers, and supports them in every way possible. At the public high school where he taught for many years before becoming the principal, he was very hands on. Students knew they were always welcome in his office, whether they had a problem or just wanted to hang out and talk. Congratulations on a well deserved honor, Coach Van!

Amy Hood Posted over a year ago

Coach Van changed my career from teaching to administration. He believed in me enough to hire me as his assistant principal at Habersham Central High School many years ago. He made work fun and his personality and positive attitude was contagious in our building. He has impacted many students and adults through teaching, coaching, and leading. Congratulations, Coach Van. We are all thankful for you!

Landis Hicks Posted over a year ago

As a former faculty member under his leadership, I can attest that this is a perfect decription of Coach Van and the dynamic he brings to a school building, the faculty and the students he supports. As Rita Pierson stated in her well-known TED talk, "Each child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be." Coach Van put this message into practice. I believe he continues to be the embodiment of a champion for every kid!

Lori Posted over a year ago

Coach Van has been my fellow teacher, my principal, and now he remains a friend since we do not work in the same system any more. He is truly everything that was described in the above article and more! He is a supporter, an encourager, and a non-stop thinker and hard worker... always coming up with new ways to build better relationships and make improvements no matter what role he is serving in. He is a true servant leader and has positively impacted many students and adults (myself included). I will never forget him reading the poem entitled "The Race" by Dee Groberg to a group of seniors on the day before graduation. He is the encourager described in the poem and there wasn't a dry eye in the room when he finished reading. Students KNEW he genuinely cared about them and he used those relationships to teach kids life lessons that were bigger than math, basketball, or high school. When I think of someone who has made a positive impact on my life and career, Jim Van Hooser ranks among the top!

Tammy Teasley Posted over a year ago

I am a previous employee of Coach Van as Registrar at Habersham Central High School. I could immediately see and witnessed Coach Van's dedication to every student regardless of race, gifted, special needs, etc. He treated every student with the same compassionate heart. Coach Van reminded me so much of my personal high school principal. He was always available to the students. I truly believe his goal was to know each student by name. If by chance you were a regular in his office, he cared about you. Coach Van fought for his students to achieve their success at their level. I was very blessed to be apart of such great leadership. Coach Van is truly a life changer. Very Very deserving of this award.

Jill Gallagher Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Coach Van, worked for Coach Van, and been a parent who's children were at school with Coach Van. He is the embodiment of everything an educator should be and also a most remarkable human being. He deserves any honor that the education community can award him. He has enriched the lives of an untold number of students and teachers.

Claudia Lacy Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! You are so deserving of this honor! You have changed many lives - I know from a personal standpoint. God bless you and your family Coach Van.

Emm Posted over a year ago

Coach Van was my dad away from home when I attended TFS. Everyday when I would walk into his classroom, Coach would greet me with a smile and a “Hey Buddy!” He never knew that on the days when I missed home the most, that simple greeting would make my day a little less cloudy. Coach Van recognizes the potential in and every student that walks the halls at Tallulah Falls School. When Coach Van meets a new student, he takes them under his wing, provides them with a sense of direction if they don’t have one, will help that student gain confidence, provide encouragement, and provide necessary feedback when he feels a student needs it. I watched Coach Van not only teach, but coach TFS Basketball for three years, and those boys loved him. The greatest thing about Coach Van is that he took time to recognize the strengths and weakness of his players in and off the court, he got to know them beyond the classrooms and courts and provided a sense of stability to those of us who didn’t feel like we had any of that in our lives. So many people in my graduating class alone felt a connect with Coach Van and were impacted greatly by him. If anyone deserves this award... without a doubt it’s Coach Van, the best teacher and life coach I have ever had.

Tina Cheek Posted over a year ago

I so appreciate the positive vibe Jim Van Hooser adds to our school. He always takes the time to listen to concerns or even out of the ordinary ideas. His thoughtful guidance has brought about many positive changes in our school environment and in student attitudes. We all love seeing his smiling face every morning as he greets everyone at the door and as he visits our classrooms often. Coach Van always meets any obstacles or issues first with care for everyone involved. He is a problem solver and yes, a life changer. He truly leads by example, setting the bar high and the faculty here is so pleased to have him on our team!!

Gayle Payne Posted over a year ago

Coach Van is definitely interested in all students and their interests. He will even go so far as to study and research topics that are studied in the classroom to find new, interesting, and more importantly fun ways to help students learn. He is a continual source of encouragement and laughter to everyone. Congratulations on your nomination!

Octavius Mulligan Posted over a year ago

Everything stated in the profile is absolutely correct. I know first hand the type of person Coach Van is. He hired me back in 2008 and my mindset for how to treat people changed because of him! He is very deserving of this nomination.

Melody Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! Well deserved.

Debbie Prince Posted over a year ago

Such a deserved recognition!! My kids talk about him often although they have only been at the school for one and a half years. What fascinates my kids is how he knows each and every student. He knows what is going on in each of their lives, what their dreams and aspirations are, and also what their struggles are. He connects with EVERY student. It will be such a loss to Tallulah Falls School when he decides to retire.

Hollie Shirley (Hollie Allen) Posted over a year ago

Your description of Coach Van is exactly what I remember him to be during my time at HCHS. Working with him during several football and basketball seasons, I remember having so much fun partly because of Coach Van and his leadership. He always had a way of getting things done and his approach was so different than most. Congratulations Coach Van!! This is so well deserved!!

Brianna Barrett Webb Posted over a year ago

Coach Van has been such a huge role model in my life. The way that he believes in students and wants to help them become better people is admiring. He has a trusting persona about him. He cares. I can’t say enough great things about Coach Van and he is very deserving of this.

Desi Barrett Posted over a year ago

My daughters, Anna & Emma Barrett both attend TFS. Coach Van is the assistant dean at the school. I am a single mom who is grateful for his love and support for both of my girls. Last spring after covid hit and the school shifted to virtual learning, he brought my daughters’ locker contents to our home. We had been in the hospital with my oldest daughter who has epilepsy for 6 weeks. During our hospital stay, he emailed and called to check on her numerous times. He really cares and loves my girls. When he sees they are having a bad day, Coach Van reaches out and tries to help or just listens. “He speaks teenager language” according to Anna-Paige, my oldest daughter who is a senior at TFS. My youngest, Emma who is a sophomore at the school also adores him. “He goes above and beyond for us” she says. He tutors in math and is available anytime students just need someone to talk too. Our family loves Coach Van and we are so grateful he is at TFS.

Mary Ruth Jones Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Coach Van! You so deserve this honor! I have witnessed your the kindness, generosity, enthusiasm and 100 percent support you show our students and staff at Tallulah Falls school! Thank you for all that you do to make this world a better place!