It was hard to the students of Riverview Elementary School to keep quiet Wednesday afternoon as they sat in the stands of the gym, with fresh flowers in hand.
Students sitting at the top excitedly held up letters spelling out “We Love You!” as they waited for their principal, Julia Mashburn, to walk through the door.
Moments later, the gym erupted in thunderous applause and cheers as hundreds of students, parents and school faculty gave Mashburn a surprise assembly May 22 in honor of her retirement this year.
Mashburn is retiring this year after having a 29-year career in education. She has served as the principal of RvES since it first opened its doors in 2010. Prior to that she was the principal of Black’s Mill Elementary School and has worked as an educator in all of Dawson County’s elementary schools – including Dawson County Primary School where she got her first start as a kindergarten teacher.
Second grade teacher Paula Poss remembered meeting Mashburn at Dawson County Primary years ago when Poss was just a college intern.
“My very first impression of her was her kind heart, her dedication to her students and a smile that would brighten a room,” Poss said at the assembly.
Poss recounted that years later, Mashburn became her daughter’s principal, and in 2010 became her principal as she became one of the original teachers when Riverview opened its doors.
She noted Mashburn’s grace, integrity and strength as she led the way at Riverview.
“I watched Mrs. Mashburn become the truly an amazing leader she was meant to be,” Poss said.
During the assembly, lines of parents and students formed to express their thanks and well wishes to Mashburn.
“My whole entire elementary school has been blessed by you and I just thank you,” mother of two Jamie England said.
Fifth graders, speaking for the student body, expressed their thanks for Mashburn’s positive impact in their lives.
Each student presented Mashburn with fresh flowers and handmade cards and hugged her as they wished her well on her retirement.
The assembly ended with a group dance amongst teachers, students and parents and Mashburn, with tears in her eyes, saying a sincere “thank you” for the surprise send off.
Mashburn moved to Dawson County 38 years ago and went back to school in order to get back into education.
Under her leadership at Riverview, the school fostered a culture for its large population of economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities that impacts student and community success. The school also developed the SPARK program which promotes positive school culture as well as the PALS Mentoring Program which pairs students with school staff to support encouragement and success for RvES students.
In 2018, Mashburn was one of three elementary school principals in the state of Georgia to be recognized as a National Distinguished Principal.
In March, Dawson County Schools announced that Adam Maroney will be taking the reins as principal for the 2019-20 school year. He has 19 years of experience in education, with eight of those years as an elementary school principal.