Ellijay, GA – Gilmer County saw recognition during October’s Board of Education (BOE) meetings for teachers selected as Teacher of the Year for each school in the system. Within 24 hours of their official recognition at the board meeting, one of these teachers would be named the Gilmer Teacher of the Year.
Recognized for Ellijay Primary School, Casey Whitley is a 14-year veteran teacher who has a Masters Degree in Special Education as well as a certification for Special Education for Pre-K to 12th grade. She has taught at Ellijay Primary School for three years. Prior to EPS, Whitley was the preschool specialist at Gilmer Head Start. She and her husband have three daughters of their own.
She says the best part of teaching is watching students progress. She has been called an advocate for her students as her Principal reports she builds engagement resources and strategies for student success.
Recognized for Ellijay Elementary School, Connie Dean is an ESOL teacher and Secretary of the School Governance Team. She works to support students as a leader of several student service projects.
Dean also was a part of a Grant allowing students access to the EES Media Center one day a week for most of the Summer.
Recognized for Mountain View Elementary, Arlene Bryan is a 30-year veteran of special education. Her administration nominated her due to a continuous impact on children through high expectations and her efforts as a role model for fellow teachers.
Bryan will be retiring this year from Mountain View. Administration continued to praise her humility throughout her years of service.
Recognized for Clear Creek Middle School, Adam Palmer serves as the Chorus Teacher and the Cross Country Coach. Palmer was praised for a unique ability in the school to work with all students to improve character building in daily lessons.
His administration’s nomination praised the lasting effects of his teacher-student relationships that they say have improved the school’s quality.
Recognized for Gilmer High School, Mary-Melissa May is in her sixth year of teaching at the high school where she teaches Honor Biology and coaches the Swim Team. She also serves on the GHS Leadership Team as the Science Department Chair. Constant hard work sees May researching best practices for teaching Biology and sharing in Professional Learning Communities (PLC).
Not only does she coach the GHS Swim Team, but May was reported by her administration as instrumental in starting the varsity team four years ago. She also took 10 swimmers from Gilmer to state competition last season.
As for the teacher who received prestige as the Gilmer County Teacher of the Year, recognized from Gilmer Middle School, Shannon Goble was treated to a surprise announcement early in the morning of October 17.
As she was “pulled from her classroom” for a quick word with one of the faculty, her students and fellow teachers prepared the hallway where she teaches for a warm reception for the announcement. Returning, Goble rounded the corner on her hall to a flood of cheers as students and teachers alike waved a banner of congratulations and offered flowers for her.
Shannon Goble is called always positive and helpful by her peers who also say she shows she cares through a friendly and kind nature. Even her students note she always smiles and is funny as she helps them with their daily lessons.
Administration says it is her servitude that shows them she is all about the people she interacts with daily.
Goble herself says she never really thought about achieving Teacher of the Year for her school, much less for the entire system. She told FYN, “There is nothing better. It let’s you know that what you are doing truly matters.”
Goble said she never doubted her students appreciated her as they share their happiness with her, but it is something more to also know her colleagues think so highly of her.
With over 20 years of educational experience, Goble worked in the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) prior to teaching. She has been teaching 5th grade for most of her years at GMS.
Speaking of the award, Goble said she wants to continue her efforts as she has been for all of her years. Saying that just like the kids she has to continue learning new things and improving every day, Goble commented, “I think of myself as a big kid.”
By Melanie Dallas, LPC
The statistics were shocking. A 2014 study by the Veterans Administration (VA) found that 22 veterans were taking their own lives each day in the U.S. A follow-up study published last year found that although suicides among veterans were decreasing, there was still an average of 20 veteran suicides each day. The latter study also found that while veterans accounted for only 8.5 percent of the U.S. adult population in 2014, they accounted for 18 percent of all deaths by suicide.
While it can be easy to assume veterans’ experiences in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – in which thousands of young adults experienced physical and psychological injuries – were driving these tragic numbers, it is more complicated than that. In fact, the 2016 report found the majority of veterans dying by suicide – 65 percent – were aged 50 and older. The VA concluded the overall risk for suicide among veterans was 21 percent higher than for civilian adults.
Psychologists have long known that mental health disorders, including major depression and other mood disorders, are associated with an increased risk of suicide. And although not everyone that attempts suicide has mental illness, the vast majority – by some estimates, 90 percent – of individuals that complete suicide suffer from a mental health disorder.
There may be several conclusions that can be drawn from these reports, but a primary one is that many veterans are in need of mental and other behavioral health services. In addition, it would seem, many veterans are not receiving the services they need to successfully deal with the psychological effects of their military service – whatever those may be and however they occurred.
As the number of veterans in need of mental health services – and healthcare services in general – surged with the wars in the Middle East, the Veterans Administration found itself overwhelmed. In order to help meet the needs of these and other veterans, the VA began partnering with local healthcare providers.
In Georgia, the Atlanta VA Medical Center partners with Highland Rivers Health to provide behavioral health services for veterans – and Highland Rivers has become one of the largest providers of these services to veterans in the state.
As a VA partner, Highland Rivers is able to provide services to veterans who have VA healthcare benefits. But all of our services are available to veterans, even those that do not have VA benefits or are uninsured.
Highland Rivers has worked to tailor our services to the unique needs of veterans as well, and several of our therapists are STAR-certified behavioral health providers (meaning they have completed intensive training developed by the Center for Deployment Psychology to meet the deployment-related psychological needs of veterans and their families).
Currently, Highland Rivers provides a variety of services specifically for veterans, including outpatient counseling for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), prolonged exposure and military sexual abuse. We also offer PTSD and veteran peer support groups, so veterans can learn from others who have had similar experiences and can relate to their challenges.
In addition, Highland Rivers provides crisis intervention and stabilization, veteran-specific supportive housing assistance, supported employment, substance use treatment and community support services, among other programs.
Although there is no easy solution to the problem of veteran suicide, it is critical that veterans receive the mental health treatment services they need to help them recover from trauma, depression, mood disorders or substance use disorders associated with their service.
Highland Rivers believes that recovery is always possible and that no veteran should feel the only choice is to end his or her life. Highland Rivers is close by and ready to help. For an appointment, call us at (800) 729-5700 or speak with your VA case manager about receiving services from Highland Rivers Health.
Melanie Dallas is a licensed professional counselor and CEO of Highland Rivers Health, which provides treatment and recovery services for individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities in a 12-county region of northwest Georgia that includes Bartow, Cherokee, Floyd, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk and Whitfield counties.