During the Nov. 8 meeting of the Dawson County Board of Education, the superintendent and board members recognized and celebrated Black’s Mill Elementary School, Andy and Lindsey Wallace and Tammy Wood for receiving awards from the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals (GAESP).
Each year, the GAESP gives awards to local educators and groups in several categories. Two of these categories are the School Bell award and Education Patron awards.
School Bell Award
According to the GAESP website, the School Bell award is given each year to no more than 10 schools across the state that have “outstanding programs in the area of curriculum and organizational leadership”. This year, the Black’s Mill Elementary School (BMES) Reading Club was awarded a 2022 School Bell award.
“The purpose of the Black’s Mill reading club is to offer a place of belonging to students who enjoy reading and discussing interesting books,” BMES Principal Cindy Kinney said. “The Black’s Mill reading club allows students to be a part of a team while strengthening their reading skills and setting a positive reading example for their peers.”
The ultimate goal of the club, she said, is to create a knowledgable team of students to represent BMES in the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Competition. Readers of all levels at BMES are allowed to join, giving them a place to feel they belong and to grow their reading skills.
“We believe that the Black’s Mill reading club is an important part of our school and makes a positive impact on our school community, and we could not be prouder that they are recognized as one of the top 10 programs in the state of Georgia,” Kinney said.
Several of the students and teachers from the reading club were present at the board meeting to accept the School Bell award.
Education Patron awards
Another category of awards that the GAESP awards is the GAESP Education Patron award. These awards are given to educational supporters in each district across the state. This year, Andy and Lindsey Wallace with 400 Waste and Scrap, LLC and Tammy Wood with the Farm Bureau each received 2022 Education Patron awards.
Andy and Lindsey Wallace with 400 Waste and Scrap, LLC are huge supporters of all of the schools in the district including Black’s Mill Elementary School, so they were nominated for the award by BMES leadership, Kinney said.
“They’re invested stakeholders and they have two precious children in the Dawson County School System that I was blessed to have at Black’s Mill,” Kinney said. “They encourage and they motivate all the stakeholders to not only get involved at their children’s school but to get involved at every school in the county.”
Kinney went on to say that their family has sponsored several events at BMES, including the Father Daughter Dance, Trunk or Treat, school dances and take home folders for all of the students, as well as supporting the school’s PBIS program, special events team, Shop with a Cop and the Little Tiger Theatre Company. They are also very involved with the Hightower Food Bank, the Dawson County Senior Center, their church and many other facets of the community.
Tammy Wood with the Farm Bureau also received a 2022 Education Patron award, which she was nominated for by Robinson Elementary School (RES) in honor of the support she gives to all of the schools in the district.
"She volunteers regularly for full days to teach our kids,” RES Principal Linda Bearden said. “She just is so passionate and makes learning so fun, so we are so grateful for her.”
Wood reaches local students about agriculture in a fun way, Bearden said, with hands-on learning experiences like making their own butter, learning all about popcorn and learning about the life cycles and different types of pumpkins.
“And all of her lessons are tied to literacy, so there’s always a story that goes with the lesson which continues to encourage our kids to read more and more,” Bearden said. “She brings things to life for our kids and things that they otherwise might not get to experience.”
Bearden added that Wood is also instrumental with organizing other organizations to come in and teach the children, like local beekeepers and the recent Georgia Mobile Ag classroom bus.
Both the Wallace family and Wood were presented with their Education Patron awards during the board meeting.