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Outstanding educator award issued to Dawson Schools Executive Director Janice Darnell
This month, Dawson County Schools Executive Director Janice Darnell won a Jim Puckett Outstanding Educator Award for her leadership and excellence as an educator. Photo courtesy of Janice Darnell.

This month, Dawson County Schools Executive Director of Instructional Support and Student Services Janice Darnell won a Jim Puckett Outstanding Educator Award for her leadership and excellence as an educator. 

According to Darnell, Jim Puckett Award winners are nominated by different groups affiliated with the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL) and selected to receive recognition at the GAEL conference. Darnell’s nomination was submitted by the Georgia Association of Curriculum and Instructional Supervisors (GACIS), an organization that covers the whole state. 

“I was thrilled and excited to be the recipient and to represent GACIS as an outstanding educator, it’s a huge honor for me,” Darnell said.

Darnell was presented the award at the GAEL conference in Jekyll Island earlier this week, and while she knew that she had been nominated for the award she said she had no idea she had won until she saw her name printed in the program. 

“At this conference, there’s at least a thousand if not more educators there from all over the state; the first session was on Sunday evening and that’s when the recognition occurred,” she said. “I didn’t know that it was official until I was at the conference and opened up the program and saw my name — I knew I was nominated but to be nominated doesn’t mean you won, so to see my name in print was so surprising.” 

Darnell was presented with the award and recognized at the conference, but the celebration didn’t stop there. She said that ever since the conference, she’s been receiving congratulatory messages from community members excited to hear about her accomplishment.

“I’ve received so many kind messages from my colleagues and peers and former students and my family; it’s just been very sweet,” she said. “I was very surprised and overwhelmed with honor that I would even be considered.” 

Receiving the award and recognition is an indicator that what she’s doing in her job as an educator is making a difference, she said. 

“Our organization covers the entire state and there are many who are much more deserving than I, but I’m very pleased to be the recipient,” Darnell said. “It’s a huge thing that lets me know that maybe all the work does pay off and it is helpful to others.”