Butts County educators gathered Friday to kick off the start of the 2019-20 school year.

The Opening of School Celebration is part pep rally and part awards ceremony, with honors being handed out for systemwide Teacher of the Year and Support Employee of the Year.

Both systemwide honorees are from Jackson Elementary — third-grade teacher Jackie Newman and special education paraprofessional Lisa Weaver.

The Opening of School Celebration was held at the Rufus Adams Auditorium, and after a performance by Jackson High School cheerleaders and the Red Regiment Marching Band, along with a presentation of the colors by the Naval JROTC, school system officials welcomed several new Partners in Education.

Joining the system in a program that has welcomed more than 50 partners since 2013 were The Brickery, the Butts County Historical Society, Fun Galaxy and Phillips Heating and Air.

Recognized as school-level Support Employees of the Year, in addition to Weaver, were Donna Smith of Daughtry Elementary School, Leeah Wiegele of Stark Elementary, Jessica Bolton of Henderson Middle School, Dary Myricks of Jackson High School and Daphne McDaniel of the central office.

Recognized as school-level Teachers of the Year were Newman, Misty Thompson of Daughtry Elementary School, Erin Downing of Stark Elementary, Sheila Small of Henderson Middle and Matthew Jordan of Jackson High.

A group of third-grade teachers from Daughtry Elementary was also presented with the first-ever Blue Ribbon Award for Instructional Excellence for having a unit of study accepted into the curriculum management system vendor’s platform of exemplary units to be used as a model by other systems.

Stark Elementary School preschool teacher Susan Moultrie was presented with the second Dr. Melinda Ellis Legacy Award. The criteria for the award includes having started a career with the Butts County School System as a parapro and obtaining a degree and certification to become a classroom teacher. The award was presented by Ellis, who began her classroom career similarly and rose to become deputy superintendent of the system before her retirement.

Butts County School System officials also recognized employees with five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service with the system.

Former state Rep. Brooks Coleman of Duluth, who served as chairman of the state House Education Committee, was the guest speaker closing out the Opening of School Celebration.

Managing Editor

Michael Davis has been the editor of the Jackson Progress-Argus since 2010. He previously worked as an editor and reporter for the Henry Daily Herald and Clayton News-Daily.