ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) is moving forward for a change on one front while maybe avoiding change on another for next year.
First, the BOE has approved a motion to begin the process to change the board members compensation from $50 per meeting to $400 per month. Initial response from citizens have been conflicted with such a drastic increase. However, with this approval, the item will be sent to the General Assembly to be considered in the next session in early 2018. Then, if approved, Gilmer County Board of Education Member Michael Bramlett tells FYN that the change will not take effect for board members until the next time their seat is elected.
This means that the current Board of Education members will have to be re-elected before they, or the newly elected member, could take advantage of the compensation change, and that is if it is approved at the General Assembly.
Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN the Board has never set anything about compensation previously, which means it was automatically set at $50 per meeting. But a feeling now that the $50 was insufficient for the work put in ushered forth the motion for a change.
Wilkes also stated that this is already being done by neighboring Fannin County. The switch means going from some months with only the work session and regular session and some with at least five or more meetings. Wilkes stated it was likely, more when the Board was searching for a Superintendent before she was hired, to a set rate for the month regardless of the number of meetings.
As for avoiding a change, the BOE listened to one citizen who signed up to speak at their regular meeting. Brian Pritchard spoke to the board to ask them not to change the leadership of their football program. The Gilmer Bobcats football team has seen a lot of change over the last three years with continuing shifts in coaches across two 0-10 seasons. While Pritchard never mentioned names, he stated the current leadership was what the kids needed. It was a leadership “they would play for.”
The point to note came later in the meeting when the Board approved its November personnel changes. No resignations, terminations or retirements were shown on the list. While personnel was discussed earlier in the week during executive session, before Pritchard’s comments, it will be something they say they consider moving forward.
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.”
ELLIJAY, GA – Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston visited Ellijay on Wednesday, September 13, to speak with the Retired Teachers Association.
Before holding a regular meeting, the Association received Ralston with a lunch reception and a meet and greet with the members. As he began his remarks, Ralston noted he was returning to the capital the same day to continue working through Georgia’s recovery of Hurricane Irma.
Taking a moment to recognize those involved, Ralston praised workers and volunteers who continue to clean up and restore Georgia in the aftermath. “I have never been prouder of the response that our state has had to what has been a tremendous storm. Hurricane Irma has really brought a lot of destruction to our state,” said Ralston.
Ralston continued his remarks speaking on the state’s budget. He said, “I tell people, there is only one thing we have to do every legislative session, and that’s pass a budget. We have passed a balanced budget in Georgia with no tax increases for the seven years that I have been honored to hold this position.”
Saying they had managed this in a conservative and responsible way, Ralston continued telling those in attendance the number one spending item in the budget every year is Education. According to the Speaker, last years $24.9 billion budget held 62% of new revenue budgeted for K-12 Education. This included $162 million for a 2% adjustment to state teachers salary.
The Teachers Retirement System (TRS), holding 218,000 active members and 118,000 retired members, was a focus of Ralston as he spoke about strengthening the system, protecting pensions against ideas of certain candidates for governor, and maintaining his “covenant” with teachers for their future and the future of their careers. Continuing in the financial aspect of education, Ralston commented, “I insist on a very strict actuarial study of what works and what don’t, between what is sound and what is not.”
The Speaker also talked of Georgia as a whole saying the state has added almost 600,00 new jobs in the private sector over the last 6 years. We are one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. Businesses are leaving other states in order to move here to Goergia. He continued, “We are now the number two state in the nation for the entertainment industry.”
Taking a moment to recognize complaints on the film tax credit, Ralston noted the $60 million a year credit generates over $9 billion a year saying, “Sometimes we have to invest a little to gain a lot, and I think strategic investment is a good thing.”
In an effort to spread the growth that Georgia is experiencing, he began speaking of the the challenges of rural Georgia. The Speaker spoke of a new two-year initiative called the ‘Rural Development Council.” The council’s plan is to examine every component of rural Georgia’s economy through education, healthcare, transportation, infrastructure, and more.
Ralston closed his comments thanking the teachers present for what the mean to the community and for the honor of representing the area in Atlanta.
However, before leaving, the Speaker took time to answer a few questions including one about the concept of Casino gambling in Atlanta saying, “I think the casino companies are a whole lot more interested in it than the members of the General Assembly.”
He went on to say there were several issues at play such as the general question of “Do you favor the expansion of gambling?” But if yes, more questions arise of “How many do you allow in the state?” “Do you allow one big one and one small one?” Ralston went further to say the next issues then would be about the tax rate and the distribution of proceeds.
ELLIJAY, GA – Pictured above Left to Right, Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley, and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech Rick Clark celebrated the announcement of Georgia Tech’s “Georgia Scholars Program” at Gilmer High School Thursday, August 17, 2017.
The Scholars Program automatically accepts Valedictorians and Salutatorians in Georgia high schools into Georgia Tech. According to Peterson, “This Georgia Tech Scholars Program is the outgrowth of our commitment to improve college access for students from throughout the state, and supports our goal of putting a Georgia Tech degree within reach of every qualified student.”
This new program goes into effect with this year’s graduating class. This means current seniors are eligible for this program.
Scholars will be accepted into the program when they are named either valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school, submit an application, and have successfully completed the prerequisite courses for entrance.
Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston called it “truly a great day for young people in Georgia.” Ralston praised the program as an encouragement of excellence in the classroom. He went on to note the importance of workforce development in Georgia’s public policy discussions and its future.
“Programs like this will help recognize, reward, and retain our best and brightest scholars. That is a critical part of ensuring Georgia’s economic growth and success for generations to come,” said Ralston.
Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission, spoke with FYN about the program. Clark said the Institute has close to 15,000 undergraduates attending the college with around 2,850 in the freshman class this year. The program aims to extend the already established APS Scholars for Atlanta Public school further out to the entire state. Traveling to Gilmer County to announce the program was another embodiment of that desire to spread the program statewide.
While announcing the Scholars Program, Clark also expanded Georgia Tech’s invitation to all students saying that they wanted them to apply. Don’t let the prices and money you see keep you from applying. Financial Aid and other programs are making colleges far more achievable than they first appear. Georgia Tech is wanting to let students all across the state know that they are a viable option and students should not see them as unattainable.
Gilmer County Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes commented on the announcement saying, “We’re honored that they are here in Gilmer County, that they chose our high school to make that announcement. We are very proud of our students who will be attending there.”
Dr. Wilkes agreed that having two of the last year’s top three students attending Georgia Tech this fall and the announcement of the Georgia Scholars Program at Gilmer, Georgia Tech has become a more accessible reality for the many students who work towards that goal.
Constitutional conservative GA Senator and Candidate for GA Governor Hunter Hill came on the show this morning to discuss why he is running for Governor. Hill has been a member of the GA Senate since 2012 after returning home from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. During this interview Hunter Hill talks about the importance of the core competencies that he would focus on in the state if elected as Governor. These being public safety, education, and transportation. Hill made the statement that the current restrictions on the education system is “stifling leadership” not just within the classroom but even into the administration within the schools. Hear all these details and more in this interview.