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DCHS STAR Student, Teacher announced
2018 STAR student and teacher
Marley Hamby was named the Dawson County High School STAR Student for having the highest SAT scores in her class. Hamby named her chemistry teacher, Laura Hendrix, as the STAR Teacher for 2018. - photo by Jessica Taylor

 “I love learning. I love sitting in a classroom and just reading about things that I’m interested in,” says Dawson County High School Senior Marley Hamby. “I could read a science textbook and it would be for enjoyment which is really nerdy and I understand but it’s just something I enjoy learning.”

Hamby, who received the highest SAT score and is ranked first her class, was recognized by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators’ Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program as DCHS’s 2018 STAR Student.

Getting an impressive SAT score takes work, and it took Hamby a few practice tests and hard studying to earn the scores she wanted. After taking the PSAT her sophomore and junior years, reading an SAT study book from cover to cover and taking the SAT several times, Hamby gave it her all and walked away with a composite score of 1510, scoring 760 in math and 750 in reading.

“I was ecstatic because I’d worked for that for a long time,” said Hamby.

Hamby, who dreams of attending a prestigious college, said receiving her SAT scores and being named STAR Student reassured her that she has what it takes to fit in at the schools she has been applying to. Already accepted to the University of Georgia and Clemson, she is waiting to hear back from Vanderbilt, Duke and Harvard.

Hamby has been a member of the high school’s cross country team for four years and was a member of the track team for two. She is the editor of the high school yearbook, president of FBLA, Public Relations Chair in NHS and a member of Beta Club as well as the Spanish Honor Society. Hamby is also very involved with her church, Bethel Baptist, and has volunteered for numerous local charities including the Hightower Baptist Association and Operation Christmas Child.

As if her extracurricular and community involvement wasn’t already impressive enough, Hamby also has aspirations to study biochemistry and become either a neurosurgeon or cardiothoracic surgeon.

Recently, she has become interested in working with stem cell research and organ regeneration after studying the subject in her free time.

After overcoming several health issues that landed her in physical therapy three separate times, Hamby was inspired to help others improve their lives. 

And while most people would groan about completing physical therapy, Hamby loved it.

“You ask most people about physical therapy and they hate it,” Hamby said. “I loved learning how to improve my mechanics and improve my body overall.”

She loved it so much, in fact, she volunteered at BenchMark Physical Therapy for the entire summer her junior year, cleaning the tables, talking with patients and shadowing the therapists.

Last summer she volunteered at Emory University Hospital and Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta.

According to Hamby, Harvard is one of the leaders in regenerative medicine and works closely with Massachusetts General Hospital on reconstructing hearts and lungs with the use of stem cells.

“That’s what I’d like to eventually study,” Hamby said.

While she awaits her response from Harvard, Hamby said she would be perfectly happy to attend the University of Georgia.

As STAR Student, Hamby was tasked with picking her STAR Teacher. It wasn’t a hard choice for her to choose her Chemistry I and II teacher Laura Hendrix.

“We are honored to have these two represent us as STAR Student and STAR Teacher,” said DCHS Principal Richard Crumley. “To be recognized by your peers or by the people that you stand in front of each day and teach – I can’t think of a better honor than that because they’re the ones that spend time together. They’re the ones that have multiple teachers to choose from and to be picked from all the teachers that Marley’s ever had, it’s truly an honor and well deserving.”

“(Hendrix) brought science to life for me,” said Hamby. “I think chemistry is something you either love it or you hate it and at first before I got into high school I liked science but it wasn’t always my favorite. Mrs. Hendrix took what could have been a very boring subject and created it into the most beautiful subject I have ever known.”

Hendrix is passionate about her subject and is always entertaining, and that’s what Hamby loves most about her.

“She actually cares what she’s trying to teach us and I think it’s so much easier to learn from somebody who’s passionate about what they teach,” said Hamby. “Her passion inspired me to learn more about the subject.”

She also encouraged Hamby to seek out the answers to her questions and expand her knowledge.

 “In her Chemistry II class I did more experiments in that one semester than I did in all my years of high school combined,” said Hamby. “It was great though because it made me learn the lessons on a different level and apply them to my own life.”

Hamby described Hendrix’s classroom experiments as experiments one wouldn’t get from a textbook. They weren’t random and meaningless. They were tangible and something Hamby could apply to her own life.

“Anything that I brought up to her that I was interested in, she totally encouraged me and pushed me in everything and did her best to give me the resources I needed to succeed,” said Hamby.

“Ms. Hendrix has a way of connecting with her kids that’s very, very fun to watch,” said Crumley.

Originally from Maryland, Hendrix has spent her entire 30 years of teaching in Dawson County High School. She described being named STAR Teacher as “unbelievably rewarding.”

“Having a student recognize you and that feeling that you get when someone comes up to you and says ‘you’ve made an impact on my life and I want you to be my STAR Teacher’ - what’s the word I need to say for that? I mean it’s the most wonderful experience,” said Hendrix. “It’s every teacher’s dream to be recognized as a STAR Teacher. It really is. That is a dream come true.”

Hendrix said it was fun teaching Hamby because she loved seeing a student so interested in science and chemistry.

“Nothing stops her. She has a drive and there will be nothing to inhibit her aspirations,” said Hendrix.