If you told Lois Zangara as a teenager that she’d one day be a grade school principal, she might have called you crazy.
The Kilough Elementary administrator dropped out of school at 16 to go to work. Later realizing her love for kids, she studied hard, got her GED and graduated from North Georgia College & State University.
Now, as a retiring educator with 25 years of experience, Zangara can’t imagine another career choice.
Zangara announced her retirement last week to the board of education, ending a career that began in 1986 at Dawson County Primary School.
She taught third grade at the time. She later moved to second grade and taught for 10 years. She then taught reading to first through fifth graders and moved to Black’s Mill Elementary School.
She was looked upon for her leadership skills when the district opened a new elementary school in 2002.
She attributes much of her success in education to the principles she learned from her family.
The Trammells were a family of gold miners, who raised their children “to work hard.”
Zangara was born and raised in Auraria, a town located between Dawsonville and Dahlonega.
“My grandmother handed down a lot of stories,” said Zangara, adding that she plans to use part of her retirement chronicling the tales and photos left by her grandmother.
In the meantime, Zangara will finish out her career at Kilough Elementary School. Her last day is in June.
Fellow Kilough administrator Tracey Compton said Zangara will be missed at the school.
Compton called Zangara wise.
“I will go to her with a question that is impossible to answer, and she doesn’t even have to think about it,” Compton said.
Zangara said working with co-workers like Compton has been a pleasure.
“I have a strong commitment to Dawson County schools and the teachers and workers here,” she said.
Zangara said she’s considering part-time work as a substitute teacher with the school system.
Said Zangara: “Teaching is my heart and my passion.”