Dawson County lost a long-time teacher and supporter of the arts last week.
Chris Gore, a retired art teacher at Dawson County High School, died in Dahlonega.
A 37-year veteran of teaching, Gore retired from the high school last year.
"I've been in education a long time and been at several places and, without a doubt, he was one of the biggest advocates for children that I have seen - more than most teachers I have ever been around," said Rick Brown, former Dawson County High School principal and current chief academic officer for the Dawson County School System. "He could get kids to do and perform at high levels. He was totally committed to students and their work and it showed.
"He was passionate and the kids loved him. His passing is a great loss to our community. He touched a lot of lives over the years."
During his time at the high school, Gore touched the lives of nearly every student that went through his class, including former student Nicole Stewart.
"Mr. Gore was my favorite teacher. He treated all of his students as equals," she said. "If you pushed the boundaries, he would of course bring you back in line, but everyone was equal in his class and he was fair, no matter what."
Stewart said that Gore always pushed his students to be the best that they could be and supported them along the way.
"When I was working on my senior art show [in 2002], he was so awesome and supportive. We would come up with crazy and ridiculous ideas for it and he would just say: ‘Sounds great. If you can do it, do it,'" she said. "We managed to pull some things off and he was skeptical at first, but when he saw the final product, I remember him saying: ‘Wow. Y'all really did it. It looks really good.' He was always very supportive."
This support was just one of the many ways that Gore himself said he used to teach his students to grow.
"I've always tried to teach my students to problem solve," Gore said about his teaching style in an interview just before his retirement. "Whatever task they are coming across, they need to learn to find a solution to it, and there can be many solutions."
And Gore was no stranger to staying on task, according to Brown.
"During one class period, he could have four courses going on at the same time," Brown said. "Was that difficult? Of course it was, but he did it so that students could have an opportunity to learn. He could have several photography students, several ceramic students and general art students - all at the same time."
Stewart said that, despite his ability to multitask, Gore always made sure he finished what he started and expected his students to do the same.
"I have always been bad about starting things and not finishing them. Mr. Gore had a big discussion with me one day about that," she said. "He said: ‘You've already started one project. Just do it and get it over with and finish it.' I've stuck with that since then, because, as he said, the more you wait around to finish something, the harder it is to get it done. That really stuck with me, so, no matter what I'm doing, I finish it before moving on now."
The local board of education discussed plans for a memorial piece for Gore during its Monday night meeting, but nothing permanent has been decided yet.
"We are talking with the high school [about a memorial piece] for Mr. Gore. I think it is absolutely appropriate to have something for him," said Dawson County School Superintendent Damon Gibbs. "We're not sure exactly what it will be yet, but we want to be respectful and make sure it is appropriate."
While Gore may be gone, Brown said that his sacrifices for his students will always be remembered.
"The sacrifices he would make were phenomenal just so kids could have opportunities," he said. "He had a huge amount of generosity and gave himself to do what he thought was best for the kids and could get them to perform."
Gore, a resident of Dahlonega, is survived by his parents, Ray and Margaret Gore, also of Dahlonega.
Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. Aug. 7 at Davis-Struempf Funeral Home Chapel in Austell. Gore was interred at Rosehill Cemetery in Austell.