The local business community last week paid tribute to the county's top teachers.
"Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions," said Gloria Wyatt, chairwoman of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.
"If it weren't for you all starting their education, putting them on the right track, I wouldn't have a job. None of us would."
The chamber continued its longstanding tradition of recognizing the school system's teachers of the year with a luncheon in their honor.
"You're very special people and it is a calling. I truly believe that. We thank you for the difference that you all make in the lives of the children in our community," Wyatt said.
The luncheon also gave the chamber the opportunity to recognize the nearly 30 year career of Superintendent Keith Porter, who is retiring at the end of May.
"I know we're all going to miss him," said Chamber President Christie Haynes. "I just want to thank our amazing superintendent, who for me will always be superintendent of the year."
Systemwide teacher of the year Tami Barrett, a seventh-grade social studies educator at Dawson County Middle School, also took time to honor Porter.
"Keith was my mentor before mentoring was a popular word. He showed me what it means to be [a] kindhearted and caring and Christian professional," she said. "Keith we're going to miss you. I'm going to miss you so much."
Haynes congratulated the honorees and recalled her fourth-grade teacher, with whom she remains in contact.
"There are those all-stars that you remember for the rest of your life. I know that whatever grade you teach, you're really impacting lives," she said. "We appreciate everything you do and the sacrifices you make."