As part of a 14-year tradition, Dawson County educators have recognized one of their own for excellence in special education.
Betty Ann Bearden, a 28-year veteran with the system who serves as the Administrative Secretary for Special Education, was awarded the 2014 Philip Wright Award for Dawson County. She was recognized by the board of education Monday night during the board's March 10 meeting.
"The Philip Wright award was created about 14 years ago to honor people in the 14-county region who work with students with disabilities to make a difference in their lives," said Dawson County Special Education Director Hershel Bennett. "Each county nominates one person and this year's winner for us is Betty Ann Bearden. She was a unanimous selection among all the schools. I'm thrilled, as the director here, to be able to work with her every day."
The award is named for Philip Wright, an extensive advocate for children with special needs. Wright assisted in the establishment of many special education programs in school systems throughout Northeast Georgia.
"I was really surprised. I never dreamed I would be a recipient of this award," Bearden said. "It's a big honor. This is a big special education award."
According to Bennett, the special education department would not run nearly as smoothly as it does without her. Especially since Bearden has seen four special education directors come and go during her tenure.
"She comes in early. She stays late. She gets everything done to help the teachers, to support the students as far as records. When we get a new student in, she gets those records, gets them input and we get the kid in the proper classes," he said. "She handles so many things that don't even make it to my desk, just to keep the department running smoothly. It would be a very difficult job without her support."
But for Bearden, the real pride comes from being part of the special education department in Dawson County.
"I'm very honored and very blessed to work here," she said. "We have a great department and a wonderful director that will help in any way he can."