Inspiring Educator: Jim Warden - Continuing an Educational Legacy

Jim Warden

When Jim Warden began his career in education at Bledsoe County High School, he was following in the footsteps of his father, James T. Warden, a highly respected football coach at BCHS and later principal of Pikeville Elementary School.

A BCHS graduate himself, Jim Warden played football for the Warriors during his high school years and returned there as a teacher in 1983 after earning a secondary education degree from Tennessee Tech. With a major in physical education and a minor in biology, he began his career as a physical education teacher and an assistant football coach and softball coach. After 24 years, Warden left coaching to have more time to support his daughter, Kelly, in her college basketball career and his son, Taylor, while he played high school basketball.

Over the years, Warden also transitioned from teaching physical education to biology. About eight years ago, he added the class that became his favorite: anatomy and physiology. “I use a lot of hands-on learning in the class,” he said. “We do a lot of dissection, and through virtual learning, we have even watched a live autopsy.

“I have been fortunate to work with good people in administration — principals and directors of schools. The school system has been very accommodating, going above and beyond to see that our students have the equipment and materials they need to succeed. This has really made my job easier. Last year the science classrooms were all updated. Now our students work with state-of-the-art equipment.

“I have always tried to get to know my students on a personal basis — to let them know I see them as individuals, more than just a name or number. And I have always shown my students respect. When you show them respect, they will give you respect.

“Watching the kids develop and seeing them succeed in school and in life are what I have probably enjoyed most about teaching. And I have seen a lot of students! I have taught a couple of generations.”

Many of Warden’s former students are now teachers themselves. When asked how many of the teachers at BCHS he had taught, he replied, “Probably about three-quarters of them.”

His former students can best describe Warden’s impact on the lives of the youth of Bledsoe County. “Mr. Warden was such an influential teacher,” says Kailey Thomas, a graduate of the class of 2012. “He helped facilitate a love for science throughout my high school years.What I learned in his classes laid a foundation for the undergraduate college courses in my preprofessional biology major. His classes even inspired me to work toward a career in healthcare.

“He has always been passionate about teaching and student learning, and it is clearly evident that his efforts have impacted many students’ lives. Effective and successful teachers require traits such as intelligence, compassion, dedication and communication. Mr. Warden has applied every single one of those qualities to his career.

“He is a very humble person and deserves recognition for all the hard work he has invested in teaching. I am thankful and blessed to have been one of his students.”

Warden, who will be retiring at the end of this school year, stated, “I have really enjoyed my time teaching. The staff at the high school has always been really close-knit — like a family. I have a lot of good memories.”

We at SVEC are proud to honor this outstanding educator who has inspired so many of the next generation of teachers and community leaders.