PAGE One Magazine Fall 2022

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PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA EDUCATORS FALL 2022 Notes of Encouragement PAGE Members, Including Georgia Teacher of the Year, Share How They’re Preserving What They Love Most About Teaching ALSO: Teacher Burnout Report | PAGE Foundation Scholarship Winners



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PAGE Members Share How They’re

What They Love Most About Teaching


Scotty Brewington Notes of Encouragement


Official Publication of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators

Vol. 43 No. 3

As the largest independent educator association in the state and nation, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) exists to support our members who serve in every Georgia public school. PAGE provides unparalleled legal coverage, legislative advocacy, professional learning, grants, and scholarships. PAGE honors and encourages educational excellence through student programs including Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR), Future Georgia Educators (FGE), Georgia Academic Decathlon (GAD), and PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades.


Woodland High School in Bartow County’s Michael Kobito: “Ever Onward”


Michele Dechman Joins PAGE

Board Welcomes

PAGE Legal


Craig Harper Executive Director Ramona Mills Executive Editor/Writer EDITORIAL STAFF
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Membership Services
for K-12 Georgia Public School Educators NEW DISTRICT 1 BOARD MEMBER PAGE
Bryan County Principal
CONTENTS IN THIS ISSUE5 FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR8 TEACHER BURNOUT TASK FORCE FINDINGS Report Recommends Needed Change; State Launches EAP for Teachers & Staff 12 FROM THE PRESIDENT6 Mosaic of Education Thank You to All Who Submitted Photos 46 PAGE FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS Eighteen Recipients this Year; More than $600,000 Awarded to Date 10


There’s only one home for the traditions, stories and iconic figures of the 150 years of Saturdays: The Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame.

Fall 2022

In This Issue

Teacher burnout. Joy in Teaching. These are polar opposites. They are mutually exclusive. Each makes the other impossible. Yes? Not necessarily.

Ever-escalating statistics reveal that Georgia educators are tired, worn, discouraged, and very much in need of restorative policies and practices at the school, district, and state level. There can be no doubt educators are in crisis. Through surveys, reports, news stories, and media interviews, Georgia teachers, administrators, and school staff are sounding the alarm: transformative change must come - and it must come soon. Yet, at the same time, so many describe the incalculable joy they continue to derive from preparing the next generation. In this issue, PAGE members throughout the state speak about these dual realities and provide insight into how they are preserving what they love most about teaching - even in the midst of the storm. You’ll find these stories on pages 16 – 29.

This summer, an educator-led Teacher Burnout Task Force issued a report that defines the problems, describes the contributing factors, and outlines actionable steps for meaningful solutions. On page 12, the PAGE legislative team explores the report’s primary themes, demonstrates how those themes align with aggregate data from PAGE member surveys, and describes how PAGE is advocating with policymakers for needed change. Page 15 outlines next

steps in moving the work forward, including a new statewide Employee Assistance Program for full-time Pre-K through 12 public school teachers and staff.

PAGE member Michael Kobito, on our cover this issue, is 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year. Among his priorities for the role is to further the work initiated by his predecessor and fellow PAGE member, Georgia 2022 Teacher of the Year Cherie Bonder Goldman, as chair of the Teacher Burnout Task Force. “There is an opportunity to seize the day,” Kobito says of his plans to emphasize the need to address the many factors contributing to burnout. Turn to page 30 to read more about Kobito’s vision and platform.

Through these and other stories in this PAGE One, may you find both acknowledgement of the storm and some solace within it.

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From the President

Called to Purpose

At times, I wonder what was the deciding factor that made teaching the profession of choice for some. This thought comes to mind when I see a teacher walking through the hall holding a student’s hand in pleasant discourse, or another exiting the building as it nears dinnertime pulling a rolling cart overflowing with teacher “stuff,” or the sight of yet another joyously leading the fraction song with her class.

I wonder. Yet — I also know.

I know with certainty that each of us entered this profession with the awareness that we hold within us a gift so wondrous and bright that it can impact the future through its positive influence on the lives of children. We each heard this call. And each of us answered.

My encouragement today, to teachers, school nurses, educational leaders, support personnel, and all who heard and answered: Remember the call.

I know we answered when teaching looked much different from what we see and experience today. Yes, it’s a different time, a challenging time, a painful time. Yet, the call remains the same.

Our call was not to “work” but to a purpose. Work is for those who enter the building, punch the clock, wait for breaks, look for pats on the back, the perks, and anxiously wait for the work day/week to come to an end. But, for those who serve children, we appreciate those spontaneous gifts, praise, and promotions, while we also hold dearly the conviction of purpose.

It is easy to identify teachers who have purpose in their day. These educators, and those who support teaching, share ideas on how to make the school more than just a building. They know that they are key to helping students form their opinion about learning and who they want to become in the future.

These purpose-driven teachers find joy in knowing they are part of helping students answer the quintessential question: “What do I have to offer this world?” These educators don’t seek success for the accolades. Rather, they

are successful because they seek out ways for students to thrive. And, they also seek out professional learning and resources to hone the teaching craft of not one but all.

These are the educators who are transforming and redefining the teaching profession. The purpose-driven teacher demonstrates that it is with care, content, and meaningful experiences that one commits to another to improve their quality of learning today with the intent to expand their opportunities tomorrow.

It is also easy to identify school administrators who lead with vision and purpose. These leaders push beyond the weight of growing pressures with poise, grit, and passion. You see them - everywhere - relentlessly seeking opportunities to invest in teachers and creating opportunities for the community to partner in this empyrean charge to teach our most precious.

And to those who support learning, education now more than ever needs you. Your skill, knowledge, and holistic point of view is necessary. This field is perfected only when non-instructional personnel aid in addressing the full range of issues that impact learning.

Together, we — teachers, administrators, and those who support learning — have faced a global pandemic, varying accountability policies, political and social upheavals, and now, the ripple effects of learning loss. And we continue to face staffing shortages, shipping delays, emotional upsets, and other seemingly unyielding challenges. It’s difficult. We’re tired. Yet, I encourage us to remember the call — the call to purpose in education that each of us heard and answered. Our “why.”

This call to purpose will forever be our guiding light, the innermost conviction that we, in fact, did not choose teaching. Teaching chose us.

“It’s difficult. We’re tired. Yet, I encourage us to remember the call.”
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PAGE President Oatanisha Dawson, lower right, with a group of educators from her school. “We visited the Ron Clark Academy to learn about innovative ways to keep students and families engaged in learning,” says Dawson. “Because of this visit, we will implement at least two major ideas to bring about a sense of belonging and accountability. Our purpose was refocused and passion reignited.”

Oatanisha Dawson received her teacher certification from Armstrong Atlantic University in 2004. She holds a Master of Middle Grades Education (2007), a Specialist degree in Leadership (2010), and a Doctor of Education (2013) all of which were completed at Georgia Southern University. She presently serves as principal of Goodyear Elementary in Brunswick, Georgia.

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The Mosaic of Education

Teaching presents a unique work environment: often solitary, but never alone. Educators spend many hours as the sole adult in a classroom full of students. Yet, that work is informed and enhanced through the collaborative support of peers.

As an educator, you fulfill many roles. Sometimes you are the leader in the foreground - visible and recognizable to all. Often, you are the leader in the background - doing all the important things in your classroom and school with your students and fellow educators - that make it possible for the bigger picture to emerge.

This issue’s cover, as well as the image at the top of this column and the photos within the feature story, illustrate the cooperative nature of our profession. As mosaics - singular

images made up of multiple images - they demonstrate the mosaic nature of education: it takes all of us, working together and helping one another, to make it work.

A huge thank you to the many PAGE members who submitted photos for use in the mosaic illustrations. As this young school year gears up, I encourage all Georgia teachers and school staff to consider the many opportunities within the mosaic of education that will enable you to help others while building your own professional practice:

Be a Mentor

The importance of veterans supporting novices has never been more evident. Numerous sources - including PAGE member survey results - highlight the critical

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positive difference an experienced teacher can make in the effectiveness of someone new to the classroom or other role. Gaining a deeper understanding of how to do the work and the reassuring encouragement from another who’s made mistakes and learned from them can make the difference between giving up or going forward.

Encourage Others

With all that you must accomplish within your own responsibilities, it’s easy to miss the signs that someone else might be struggling and overwhelmed. Sometimes, just a few encouraging words is enough to help a colleague find the energy to go a little further. And, if there’s something you can do to provide support, that’s even better. Take the time to ask, “How may I help you?” and find a way to follow through in response.

Ask for Help

In addition to helping others, don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. Being part of a community means working together with a common purpose. Just as you may provide the strength for someone else to keep going, there are times you need that boost of support, too. All too often, we needlessly face our struggles alone.

Improve Your Practice

Educators consistently encourage life-long learning, yet often find it difficult to prioritize their own. Commit to learning something new - or going deeper into something you want to know more about - during this school year. Resources have never been more accessible. Getting excited about your own learning can lead to getting more enthusiastic when teaching others.

Contribute to Learning

Be generous in sharing what has been effective in your professional practice. Contributing your knowledge can help others and build positive relationships and networks of support.

Advocate for the Profession

Support current and future educators by taking part in advocacy opportunities: Participate in the annual

PAGE Legislative Survey to help shape our advocacy with lawmakers and state agencies like the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, and the Teachers Retirement System. You can also talk with your legislators this semester before the 2023 session and let them know how they can better support your work. We invite you to attend PAGE Day on Capitol Hill each February to learn more about developing legislation and interact with policymakers. If you’re in a Georgia high school, encourage students to consider a career in teaching and join Future Georgia Educators (FGE). If you don’t have an FGE chapter, please start one. You can learn how at https://www.pageinc. org/fge/fge-how-to-start-a-chapter/

Thank you for your contribution to the beautiful mosaic of education for the children of Georgia.

Executive Director Craig Harper joined PAGE in 2015 after more than 22 years in Georgia public school leadership positions. A certified trainer for Crucial Conversations and host of the PAGE Talks podcast, Harper holds a master’s in public administration from Valdosta State University.

“As mosaics singular images made up of multiple images they demonstrate the mosaic nature of education: it takes all of us, working together and helping one another, to make it work.”
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PAGE Foundation Scholarship Winners

The PAGE Foundation announced annual scholarship awards this summer.

Eighteen recipients, representing a variety of disciplines, received the scholarships to help with furthering their education and to

enhance their capabilities in the classroom and beyond.

To date, the PAGE Foundation has awarded more than $600,000 in scholarship funds to members throughout the state.


Professional Scholarship


Oak Grove STEAM Academy Cherokee County Schools


Undergraduate Scholarship

Elementary Education major at Reinhardt University


Professional Scholarship


Bulloch Academy Bulloch County Independent School


Professional Scholarship


Washington-Wilkes High School Wilkes County Schools


S. Marvin Griffin Scholarship

Elementary Education major at Piedmont University

MANDI DEAN Professional Scholarship Teacher Ridgeland High School Walker County Schools


Professional Scholarship


Pharr Elementary School Gwinnett County Schools

SHELLY HORTON Professional Scholarship

Media Specialist

Altamaha Elementary School Appling County Schools

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Jack Christmas Scholarship Teacher

Central Elementary School

Carroll County Schools

ABBY LONG Jack Christmas Scholarship Teacher

Dames Ferry Elementary School

Jones County Schools


Dr. Allene Magill Support Personnel Scholarship


Arnold Mill Elementary School

Cherokee County Schools


Professional Scholarship Teacher

Troup County High School

Troup County Schools


Support Personnel Scholarship


Westside Elementary School

Houston County Schools


Dr. Alton Crews Future Georgia Educators Scholarship

Graduate of Tattnall County High School

Attending East Georgia College

CHRISTINA LONG Charles “Coach” Cooper Scholarship Teacher

Cartersville High School

Cartersville City Schools

ALTHEA ROY Professional Scholarship Teacher

South Cobb High School

Cobb County Schools


PAGE DeKalb Scholarship Teacher

Pleasantdale Elementary School DeKalb County Schools

JESSICA YOUNG Professional Scholarship Teacher

Crisp County High School

Crisp County Schools

About PAGE Foundation Scholarships

• Applications are available annually before the end of fall semester • Open to all PAGE members • Scholarships for teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, and college students • Learn more and apply at
PAGE One | 11Fall 2022

Teacher Burnout Report Reiterates

PAGE Survey Findings & Recommends Needed Change

This summer, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) released Teacher Burnout in Georgia: Voices from the Classroom, a report which highlights growing challenges that erode the appeal of teaching for prospective newcomers and make it harder for veteran educators to continue teaching.

The report identifies five areas where action is needed to address teacher burnout:

• Assessment

• Preserving and Protecting Time

• Pressures / Unrealistic Expectations

• Teacher Voice and Professional Growth

• Mental Health and Wellness

The Georgia Teacher Burnout Task Force - convened by State Superintendent Richard Woods and chaired by PAGE member and 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Bonder Goldman - developed the report. PAGE board member Daerzio Harris also served on the task force.

These findings reiterate issues PAGE members have called attention to through survey responses and that PAGE has advocated for with policymakers.

The report also outlines recommendations and specific actions that state and local leaders can take to

Daerzio HarrisCherie GoldmanRichard Woods
12 | PAGE One Fall 2022

respond to teacher burnout. Highlights of the themes and recommendations as well as findings from PAGE member surveys follow.


Theme: “While at the state level, high-stakes testing requirements have been reduced to be more in line with federal requirements, the number of district-level tests has increased.”

Recommendation Highlights: 1) Reduce the number of tests at the local level to preserve instructional time and reduce redundancy; 2) Lower the emphasis on high-stakes testing in the accountability system.

PAGE Survey Highlights: Fewer than 18 percent of educators believe Georgia Milestones provides them with information to improve instruction.1

Preserving and Protecting Time

Theme: “Teachers’ planning and instructional time must be treated as sacred, both for our state’s academic recovery to be successful and effective going forward (from the pandemic).”

Recommendation Highlights: 1) Prioritize teachers’ time to plan for and deliver quality instruction without interruptions for excessive meetings, trainings, and other duties; 2) Streamline and reduce time-intensive paperwork and processes.

PAGE Survey Highlights: More than 75 percent of teachers ranked uninterrupted planning time as the first

or second most important support they need to best meet student academic needs.2

Pressures/Unrealistic Expectations

Theme: “Coming out of the pandemic, the desire to ‘return to normal’ has also come with an unrealistic expectation that student learning and achievement should immediately return to pre-pandemic levels without giving teachers the time, support, resources, and compassion to meet students at their current academic levels.”

Recommendation Highlights: 1) Set realistic postpandemic academic benchmarks; 2) Identify ways to communicate a fair and clear picture of the hard work occurring in classrooms; 3) Establish productive partnerships among educators, students, families, and community stakeholders.

PAGE Survey Highlights: The widespread substitute shortage has disrupted instruction and increased teacher responsibilities. About 52 percent of teachers lost planning time to cover classes for absent colleagues, nearly 38 percent taught combined classes, and 30 percent lost dutyfree lunch while filling in for colleagues.3

Teacher Voice and Professional Growth

Theme: “Teachers serve on the front lines and directly impact student learning; we must support those who support our students.”

Recommendation Highlights: 1) Reimagine an educational system that engages teacher voice and treats teachers as professionals; 2) Define and provide support for teachers throughout their professional careers.

PAGE Survey Highlights: More than 20 percent of new teachers do not have a mentor to support them during their first years of teaching.4

Mental Health and Wellness

Theme: “Just as it created stress on students and families, the pandemic both contributed additional stressors and exposed existing stressors.”

Recommendation Highlights: 1) Provide a stable and supportive work environment where teachers and teacher morale are valued; 2) Provide additional administrative support, recognition, and access to wellness programs.

PAGE Survey Highlights: Nearly 40 percent of educators identified school leadership and school climate as the most important factor affecting recruitment and retention.5

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The recommendations developed by the task force align with proposals PAGE has consistently outlined. PAGE has called on policymakers to make Georgia the number one state in which to teach. PAGE recommendations to policymakers include:

• Invest in high quality induction and mentoring programs for early career teachers.

• Provide student loan reimbursements prioritizing educators in high-poverty schools or shortage areas.

• Develop ongoing professional learning for emerging and experienced school leaders to better support school staff and their work.

• Reduce state-mandated tests to the minimum required under federal law.

• Revise accountability metrics to include information more relevant to parents.

PAGE will continue calling attention to and advocating for solutions to critical teacher workforce issues identified by the task force and by PAGE members. For more information, follow PAGE Capitol Reports at www. under the Legislative tab, and contact the PAGE Legislative Department for assistance at legislative@

1 Professional Association of Georgia Educators. 2021). Voices from Georgia Schools: Georgia Educators on Supporting Public Education During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

2 Professional Association of Georgia Educators. (2021).

3 Professional Association of Georgia Educators. (2022). Views from the Schoolhouse: Insights from Georgia Educators on the Education Profession and Supporting Students

4 Professional Association of Georgia Educators. (2022).

5 Professional Association of Georgia Educators. (2021).

To read Teacher Burnout in Georgia: Voices from the Classroom, visit

Moving the Work Forward

In the report, 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Bonder Goldman, writes: “We cannot change how we got here, but we can change how we go forward.” That forward momentum has begun. Here’s a look at what’s next.

PAGE Legislative Advocacy: The Burnout Report will inform the work of the PAGE Legislative Advisory Committee, which will draft PAGE’s 2023 state level legislative priorities. PAGE legislative staff will focus advocacy efforts on these priorities during the Georgia General Assembly.

Georgia Teacher of the Year: 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year, PAGE member Michael Kobito, will continue the work initiated by the task force. Kobito will represent Georgia educators as a non-voting member of the State Board of Education and serve as an advocate for public education

and the teaching profession. “There is an opportunity to seize the day,” says Kobito. Turn to page 30 to read more.

Working Together for the Good of All: As the report specifies in multiple locations, “state, local school districts, and school leaders should work collaboratively” to address the many factors contributing to teacher burnout. This essential collaboration has begun and must continue. Evidence points to a concerning rise in burnout among additional school stakeholder groups as well.

The Teacher Burnout report provides the starting point for solutions to address burnout for all who teach and care for Georgia’s students. PAGE will continue to encourage and support this work.

Michael Kobito
14 | PAGE One Fall 2022

State Launches Employee Assistance Program

In direct response to recommendations made in the Burnout Report, the Georgia Department of Education has created an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for fulltime, Pre-K through 12 public school teachers and staff.

The EAP provides 24/7 access to numerous services including counseling, legal and financial consultations, work/life referral resources, and manager/ supervisor supports.

All services are free to full-time public

school teachers and staff. They're also confidential. Program materials specify that no information shared in EAP sessions will be available to schools, districts, or the state.

Goldman and Kobito celebrate the program as a much-needed resource.

"Teachers cannot take care of those whom they have been called upon to take care of if they are not taken care of themselves," Goldman observes.

"Supporting our teachers and staff is

the key to setting our students up for success," adds Kobito. "We can only give our best when we can be our best."

There are additional helps on the way, State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement:

"It is absolutely essential that we support those who support our kids. That includes putting mental health resources in place ... This is the first of many actions we plan to take in response to (the) report."


GENERAL INQUIRIES 770-216-8555 (option 3) 800-334-6861 (option 3)

PAGE ATTORNEYS / LEGAL SERVICES 770-216-8555 (option 1)



MEMBER SERVICES 770-216-8555 (option 2)

For your membership services representative’s contact information, turn to page 39 of this issue or visit

PAGE One | 15Fall 2022
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Notes Of Encouragement

PAGE Members Throughout the State Share How They’re

Preserving What They Love Most about Teaching

Teaching is never easy, but the past few years have been exceptionally challenging for educators.

Yet, despite the stressors of the pandemic and escalating burnout, so many continue to find joy, meaning, and purpose in their roles — inspiring students and making a positive impact on current and future generations.

To what can this be attributed? We asked educators throughout the state.

Some reference a higher calling that keeps them in the classroom, while some see it as their opportunity to give

back to students what a beloved teacher once gave to them. Others speak of loving the challenge of connecting with students and finding out what motivates them. Still, others highlight the fulfillment that comes from helping students find confidence within themselves.

Though each answer is unique, all agree that teaching takes a lot of heart, a deep love of learning, and an even deeper love for students.

Read on to hear from eight Georgia educators as they share insight into what sustains them and how they continue to cultivate joy in their work amid extreme difficulties.

PAGE One | 17Fall 2022


Gordon County, Calhoun City Schools

Kindergarten, Calhoun Early Learning Academy



It can be draining. Every hour, you are responsible for the kids in the classroom ... but, at the same time, it’s exhilarating that you can have that impact on how they view school.

For Angela Irwin, teaching has always come naturally. She started when she was 12.

“I recognized that our small church didn’t have a class on Wednesday nights for the twoyear olds, so I asked our pastor if I could start one,” says Irwin, whose teaching career now spans 27 years. Today, Irwin teaches kindergarteners, her favorite age group.

“I guess I just love everything related to teaching,” says Irwin. “This is my niche. I was always able to connect and appreciate the character and innocence and the awe on students’ faces when they discover something new.”

Despite her enthusiasm, Irwin is no stranger to the extreme difficulties of the past few years.

“It can be draining,” she observes. “Every hour, you are responsible for the kids in your classroom and laying the foundation for their education.”

“But at the same time,” she continues, “it’s exhilarating that you can have that impact on how they view school. They know they belong — not just in my classroom, but in school.”

Irwin says she’s able to stay positive and motivated by focusing on her certainty that the classroom is where she belongs. She uses the

summers to recuperate and she focuses on the opportunity she has to positively impact the lives of children.

One of Irwin’s biggest joys is seeing students progress during their Pre-K and kindergarten years.

“They come in barely having alphabet knowledge to reading books by the end. They’re so proud of themselves, and I’m so proud of them,” she says. “To see that maturity and growth is amazing.”

One of Irwin’s main goals is to have fun while learning. As often as possible, she uses puppets, games, and songs in class to make learning fun and to help students retain

18 | PAGE One Fall 2022

information. She also uses call and response. For example, last year, she would call out, “Class, be the light!” Students responded with, “Bright light!”

A teacher with Calhoun City Schools for the past six years, Irwin started this year at the new Calhoun Early Learning Academy, which houses both Pre-K and kindergarten students in one building. She teaches an inclusive classroom with students of all different learning levels.

“Some struggle to write their name while others can read at a first or second grade level, but even the ones having difficulty have something they are good at,” says

Irwin. “It’s my job to make them feel valued and included and to help them discover what they are good at so they can apply that expertise or talent to grow in other areas.”

Irwin says she loves the challenge of finding the key that unlocks a student’s self-motivation.

“I want to point out their strengths so they know their worth,” she says. “We’re not all great at everything, but there is always something we’re good at, and we will focus on that. Everywhere else, we will at least achieve growth.”

Irwin says she finds joy in making connections with her

students and finding ways to challenge them and help them grow. At the beginning of each school year, she has her class sit in a circle with a ball of yarn. Students tell something about themselves and then throw the yarn to someone else. Eventually, the yarn creates a spider web representing how they are all connected.

“At the end of the day, I play a lot of roles - wife, friend, a singer at my church - but I am my best self when I am teaching. I absolutely believe that I am called to teach. It has to be renewed, of course, but I feel an innate drive to teach and help others and with that, I think, the joy comes easy.”

Angela Irwin’s students share her joy, joining her for a special photo op.
PAGE One | 19Fall 2022





Jenna Allenson believes that making connections with students, even with cartoons, is key to success. Photo by Dolly Purvis.
20 | PAGE One Fall 2022
County Schools 504/Response to Intervention Coordinator, Centennial High School

This is Jenna Allenson’s seventh year teaching, and this year, she assumes a new role as 504/ Response to Intervention (RTI) coordinator at Centennial High School as the primary intervention specialist. In this position, Allenson will work in an instructional capacity to provide professional learning, technical guidance and best practices, and materials in the area of Section 504 and RTI. Previously, she was a middle school math teacher.

Allenson, an enthusiastic PAGE member since college, always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“In kindergarten, I would play teacher with my stuffed animals,” says Allenson. “My mom would take me to School Box, and I would buy things to set up my pretend classroom.”

For Allenson, making lasting connections and building relationships with her students and colleagues is her favorite part of the job. Though connecting with middle schoolers can be especially challenging, it is also critically important, Allenson says.

“They are at an age where you can really make a difference. Peer pressure is starting to happen, and they are in need of a mentor. That’s the time when you can help shape the person they will be,” says Allenson. “Also, they have a great sense of humor. You can joke around with them. They are still young enough that they need you and want your help, but they also have a little more maturity and can be a little more independent.”

Allenson, who describes herself as “super-social” says the lack of social interaction during the COVID closures definitely took its toll. Despite the challenges and burnout, she tries to focus on the positive elements that came out of virtual learning such as videotaped lessons and digital notebooks that

students could use to help them with homework or as ongoing support.

Allenson says she still uses many of these tools as resources for her students today even though school is no longer virtual.

“I like to interact with people all day. Going virtual was a new challenge in my career — trying to make learning meaningful over a computer, especially math — but it also challenged me and opened my eyes to new technology tools that I still use and will continue to use going forward,” she says. “But, it definitely burned me out.”

Allenson says that while she briefly considered leaving teaching, she realized that the classroom is still where she belongs. She has looked forward to this new school year and the fresh start that will hopefully be more “normal” than years past.

Though she knew she was destined to be an educator, Allenson remembers two of her own teachers who helped her find her path: a seventh-grade English teacher who conveyed the importance of building relationships with students by relating to them on a personal level,

and a high school math teacher who ultimately inspired her to teach math, her previous subject as a middle school educator.

“Math was an area of struggle for me throughout most of school. Then, in high school, I had a really great math teacher. She poured her heart and soul into helping me and really shifted my confidence in math. I ended up excelling in it,” says Allenson. “I want kids to feel confident and that this is achievable for them.”

Allenson fondly remembers her own excellent teachers, and those treasured memories serve as inspiration to remind her that she can make a difference in her students’ lives. She says the best feeling is when former students come back to visit and share the impact she had on them in class.

“For me, the biggest payoff is the growth that students havenot just academically, but cognitively and social-emotionally,” she says. “I love when a student has struggled in math and then says, ‘you have made me love math.’ That fuels my fire. My biggest goal as a teacher is to give back what that high school math teacher gave me. ‘You can do this. You can do a hard thing.’”

Going virtual was a new challenge in my career ... I still use and will continue to use (technology) going forward, but it definitely burned me out.
PAGE One | 21Fall 2022


Oconee County School District English/Language Arts, North Oconee High School


Cynthia Moore has been teaching English and language arts at North Oconee High School for the past 18 years. Last school year, she was named Teacher of the Year for both her school and her district. It was her 23rd year teaching in public schools.

“It was a nice shot in the arm for me to get that. I have been doing this a while, and it’s very encouraging,” says Moore.

“Sometimes being a veteran teacher and being older, you wonder, ‘do I still matter? What can I bring to

the table?’ It’s encouraging to see that what I am doing still makes a difference and that I still have something to offer.”

Moore says she definitely sees the effects of the pandemic and the learning disruptions of the past few years. The learning curve to get back on track has been steep, and trying to get everyone caught up has been especially hard on teachers, she observes.

The impact was especially severe on her 11th-grade students

last year, says Moore. They began dealing with COVID during their freshman year, and now that school is back in-person, they’ve had to adhere to deadlines and be more accountable overall. This has been an adjustment from the previous two years which were more “fluid,” Moore says.

The lack of social interaction during the pandemic also made it difficult to build relationships and connections with students and colleagues, which Moore says is her favorite part of the job.

I still love kids and love teaching English. That has always kind of been my thing. If you love your students and love what you are teaching if those are still in the forefront you will still find the joy. Teaching is hard, but if you have those two things, a lot of other things fall into place after that.

22 | PAGE One Fall 2022

More than anything, Moore says she is excited about a new school year, a return to normal, and getting back to what brings her the most joy: building relationships. In addition to working with students, Moore says she also finds inspiration serving as a mentor to new teachers.

“It has been good to get back with my colleagues. I have had some special relationships with new teachers. Being a veteran and trying to embrace that role, that has kept that spark of joy and that wonder alive in my teaching,” says Moore. “When a new teacher is really enthusiastic and on fire, it is so invigorating. That has been really good for me.”

She says becoming an English teacher was a natural choice for her because of her love for reading, and also because the teachers who impacted her most as a studentthose she felt really cared about her as a person - happened to be English teachers. Moore tries to show her own students that she cares about them while instilling in them that same love of reading.

“I have kids come up to me and say that this is the first time they have read a book on their own. I feel some success in that. That will help them be successful in life and make them a lifelong learner,” says Moore. “And they will also have good memories about English class and me, and they will know that

I cared about them. I try to make a connection with them. I pay attention to what they choose to read in their free time. It tells me what they are into.”

Moore’s husband - also an English teacher - recently retired, but Moore says she has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

“I still get excited for the school year. I still love kids and love teaching English. That has always kind of been my thing,” says Moore. “If you love your students and love what you are teaching - if those are still in the forefront - you will still find the joy. Teaching is hard, but if you have those two things, a lot of other things fall into place.”

Cynthia Moore brings her love of teaching and students to a PAGE Future Georgia Educators (FGE) Day participant at the University of Georgia. Photo by Dolly Purvis.
PAGE One | 23Fall 2022




LaQuananisha Adams has been teaching for seven years, all of them at Lindley Middle School’s Sixth Grade Academy, a Title 1 school in Mableton.

The past few years have been frustrating, Adams says, with many students lacking motivation and not fully participating in class - just some of the effects of so much missed in-person school.

“These last few years have been unprecedented. Coming back to the classroom, it was a lot to deal with,” says Adams. “We had some students who did participate, but some did not. There were definitely deficits because of that year or two of missed school.”

Despite these challenges, Adams still finds joy in being back in the classroom and connecting with her students one-on-one. She feels a special connection to middle schoolers, who are coming into their own and figuring out who they are.

“The best thing about my job is influencing students and making a big impact on their lives,” says Adams. “You don’t know where students are coming from until you get to know them. When they get to middle school, it’s a transition period. There’s a lot going on and they are getting to know themselves. I feel that I can relate to them.”

During the pandemic, as head of her social studies team, Adams enjoyed being able to use her new specialist degree in instructional technology to help her colleagues -who ranged in age from 25 to 70 years old - adapt to the move to virtual learning.

“I love technology, but that was a real strain for a lot of teachers - jumping from face-to-face to being online. A lot of teachers and administrators had a hard time transferring everything over to online,” she says. “My technology experience really helped me with that during the pandemic.”

Adams, who played basketball in high school and at Georgia Tech, considered being a college basketball coach before eventually deciding on teaching as a career. Today, she is able to find joy and fulfillment both in the classroom and on the court as a basketball coach at Pebblebrook High School, also in Mableton.

“I enjoy being around the sport and being around the girls, having a good time and sharing my experiences with them,” says Adams. “I hope I can motivate them to do more in life through basketball or education.”

Adams says her first group of students is graduating this year, which is exciting. As a coach at Pebblebrook,

24 | PAGE One Fall 2022

she gets to see many of the students she taught in middle school continue on as high school students.

“I tell my students all the time, ‘make sure you invite me to graduation - you were my first group!’ I have a lot of love for my first group of kids,” says Adams. “I always hear other teachers talking about their students and getting to go back to graduation to see them graduate. Now, I finally get to experience that!”

Adams says coaching high school basketball reminds her of Carolyn Kelly, her own coach at Liberty County High School in Hinesville, Georgia, who inspired and motivated her. For Adams, giving back by coaching the next generation of high school girls is an important part of her job.

“I started playing basketball in the eighth grade, which is kind of late to start. My coach from high school put a lot of time and energy into me. I feel like now I am giving back to the kids and the community - even if it’s not the community I came from,” says Adams. “It feels good to give back in this way.”

Coming back to the classroom, it was a lot to deal with ... There were definitely deficits because of that year or two of missed school ... (but) the best thing about my job is influencing students and making a big impact on their lives.

LaQuananisha Adams believes that giving back is paramount to helping students achieve success.
PAGE One | 25Fall 2022


Forsyth County Schools

School Nurse, Chattahoochee Elementary School


There is perhaps no one in a school setting more on the frontline during a pandemic than school nurses.

For Louisa Holcomb, one of the hardest parts of her job was worrying about her students while they were away from campus and not being able to support them in-person.

Yet, despite all the uncertainties in the early days of COVID-19 and all the unprecedented challenges that continue around keeping students and staff members healthy, Holcomb says she never once thought of leaving education.

Before joining the staff of Chattahoochee Elementary School 21 years ago, Holcomb worked in adult critical care as an emergency room nurse. Though working with students was scary at first because it was so different from working with adults, Holcomb says she wouldn’t trade it now for anything.

The best part, she says, is seeing kindergartners come into the building for the first time and knowing how much their lives will change over the next six years.

“One of my favorite things is when a kindergartner or first grader comes into my clinic for the very first time. They are so scared,” says Holcomb. “But then I get to share with them that coming to the clinic is a good thing. My job is to make sure each child is the healthiest they can be so they can learn and can learn to be healthy.”

Holcomb, who was named the state’s School Nurse of the Year in 2018, says the best part of her job is being part of a student support team that works together to address students’ needs.

“I’m part of a team that includes school social workers, counselors, administrators, and psychologists,” says Holcomb. “If I’m in a bubble by myself and see a student repeatedly in my clinic with headaches and stomachaches, but I don’t know what is going on in their lives at home, I can’t guide them to a solution. Working together as a team, we are able to address the whole child, and that’s my favorite part.”

S chool nurse Louisa Holcomb with a product mascot at the National School Nurse Association Conference held in Atlanta in June.
26 | PAGE One Fall 2022


Walton County School District Teacher, 5th Grade, Loganville Elementary School


Clint Myers began his teaching career in Fulton County, but eventually returned to his home county of Walton. This is his ninth year teaching elementary school.

“I attended Loganville schools my whole life,” says Myers. “It’s cool to be back at the school that molded me. My fifth grade teacher just retired. I worked alongside her the past three years.”

Myers says the last few years have been challenging. Though things have now mostly returned to normal, there are still lasting effects of the pandemic.

“We’re seeing some gaps in maturity level, organizational

skills, interpersonal skills, and communication skills in addition to academics,” says Myers.

Despite these recent challenges, Myers reports that he still finds joy in the classroom.

“I enjoy the challenge of building connections with my students. Finding a topic in each student’s life to build a relationship around really motivates me,” Myers says. “It helps with student buy-in and also helps me as an instructor. Students who know their teacher is enthusiastic about somethingand their teacher likes them as a person and wants them to become a better person - give more effort overall.”

One of Myers’ former students, now a junior, recently sent him a photo of a note he had written her during her fourth-grade year. She said she still remembered him and how he had invested in her as a student all those years ago.

For Myers, he always knew he wanted a career where he could positively impact kids’ lives. “I want to challenge them academically, but when students leave my classroom, the most important thing to me is to have been a strong role model,” says Myers. “The ability to be organized, responsible, a good team player and pleasant to be around is just as if not more important than being strong academically.”

Clint Meyers and his students share the joy of storybook character dress-up day.
PAGE One | 27Fall 2022


Tift County Schools

1st Grade, Matt Wilson Elementary


Ashly Webster is celebrating her 17th year in the classroom. While most of those years have been at the elementary school level, she also taught the early childhood pathway to Tift County High School students for four years, mentoring those interested in teaching early education.

The pandemic hit while Webster was teaching at the high school, which posed a new set of challenges for her pathway students. One of the biggest hurdles, she says, was helping her third-level students complete their practicums virtually instead of in the classroom.

Despite the difficulties, Webster says she still loved seeing her older students interact with younger students and get bitten by the “bug” to pursue a career in teaching.

“For me, the best part of teaching is helping each student gain confidence not only in their education but also in themselves,” says Webster. “Building that family bond in the classroom and seeing them support each other and lift each other up - that’s my favorite part.”

For Webster, it’s important to show kids that school can be fun. Webster reminds herself to pick her daily battles and not focus on every small infraction, which can lead to teacher burnout.

“I have learned over time that if you can make students believe you are there for them - that you want what is best for them, that you truly love them and are truly interested in the stories they want to tell you - you will gain their

respect,” Webster says. “And once you gain their respect, their trust, and their love, the teaching is the easy part.”

Webster says she runs into students often whom she taught her very first year. They stop her to tell her how much they appreciated her genuine caring for them.

“I run into kids all the time from that first year of teaching, when I felt like I was in the ocean trying not to drown. Every day, I would get in my car crying, thinking I had failed. But to them, I was wonderful,” she says. “They are sponges, soaking everything up. You have to decide if you want to put positivity in their sponge for them to squeeze onto other people or negativity to squeeze out onto everyone.”

Ashly Webster with students in her Early Childhood Education 3 class. These students earned certification in child abuse and neglect recognition.
28 | PAGE One Fall 2022



Rhonda Gulley has been in education for 29 years.

“This is my 13th year at Upson-Lee Middle School,” says Gulley. “The first two years of my career, I was a parapro here and now I’m the principal.”

The last few years, Gulley says, have been tough.

“When we first shut down, I got on Facebook Live to talk to our families and before I knew it, I was crying. It was such a heartbreaking time,” she says.

Gulley says her biggest joy comes from being around students, whether it’s chaperoning an eighth grade formal or helping them prepare for a test.

“It’s exciting for me to see them enjoying learning and having fun with what they are doing,” says Gulley. “I’m a true middle school person. It can be such an impressionable time for a kid. There are so many changes in their bodies and minds. It’s fun to watch them find themselves.”

Gulley says she finds fulfillment in ensuring that students in her community have access to extracurricular activities. One of Gulley’s students - Travon Walker - went on to play football at the University of Georgia and was the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

“For some students, that’s the way to change their outlook on life,” says Gulley. “Things like football and BETA Club conventions, Future Farmers of America

- those things can change their lives and get them to different places to grow.”

A PAGE member since college who has earned several education awards throughout her career, Gully notes that teaching is in her blood. Both of her parents and her two brothers are educators in Georgia. One of her children will be working as a parapro this year.

“When we all get together for lunch on Sundays, we are hilarious. We all have different philosophies about education,” says Gulley. “It’s all we know.”

Thomaston-Upson School System Principal, Upson-Lee Middle School Rhonda Gulley with one of her students who performed in a local production of The Little Mermaid.
PAGE One | 29Fall 2022
Photo by Dolly Purvis
30 | PAGE One Fall 2022


Bartow County School System

Woodland High School



PAGE member Michael Kobito, the 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year, employs strategies and techniques that keep students learning and achieving success. He strives to make his classroom (mainly the Band Room at Bartow County’s Woodland High School) a center for students’ good experiences. “I try always to remember why I do what I do,” he says. “The biggest part is helping kids be the best they can be.”

Now in his eighth year as an educator, the pandemic has affected more than a third of his career. Yet, as the Woodland band’s motto declares, Kobito looks “ever onward and upward!”

“Being a band director — like any classroom teacher — is not fun during COVID,” Kobito says. “It was very hard when we were hybrid with some kids on screen and some kids in class. I had to be creative to find ways to make it a good experience. Now, we’re starting to get back to where we used to be.”

And getting back to where the Woodland band program used to be includes its wind symphony performance at Janfest 2023 at the University of Georgia and an upcoming trip to England for the

marching band to play at the London New Year’s Day Parade.

Despite the challenges — both old and new — that face educators, Kobito keeps his feet firmly planted at the school in the rolling hills around Cartersville because it is home.

“I stay because the community supports and shows appreciation for the band program, and I’m proud to be part of that.” Kobito says. “I genuinely love what I do, and the kids mean a lot to me. I stick around for them.”

To keep his love of the craft enduring, Kobito prioritizes work-life balance.

“During my first three or four years of teaching, I was at work from sunup to sundown,” he recalls. “I know band directors who never made time to go to the doctor, and they ended up with some bad stuff. School leaders need to understand that work-life balance is a priority, set up expectations that are clear, and think through best practices.”

As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Kobito will focus on the state’s teacher evaluation system and how feedback from the process needs to help educators grow into

PAGE One | 31Fall 2022

School leaders need to understand that work-life balance is a priority, set up expectations that are clear, and think through best practices.

2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year Michael Kobito provides instruction to members of Bartow County’s Woodland High School Marching Band. Photo by Dolly Purvis.
32 | PAGE One Fall 2022

better educators. Also, he looks forward to continuing the work that fellow PAGE member Cherie Bonder Goldman, the previous Georgia Teacher of the Year, began as chair of the Georgia Department of Education’s Teacher Burnout Task Force.

“There is an opportunity to seize the day,” Kobito says of the Task Force report* issued in June.

While the report identified problems statewide, Kobito says he hopes individual school systems will create their own task forces to study contributing factors with the goal of creating actionable steps.

His plans for his role as Georgia Teacher of the Year also include highlighting the meaningfulness of arts education to “help people see the benefits of student participation (in the arts) and the need for more support” of these programs.

*On pages 12-15, the PAGE legislative team explores the report’s primary themes, demonstrates how those themes align with aggregate data from PAGE member surveys, and describes how PAGE is advocating with policymakers for needed change. To access the Task Force report, PAGE survey data, and related materials, visit, choose the Legislative tab, and select Reports.

About 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year Michael Kobito

• Earned his Bachelor of Music degree in music education (cum laude) from the University of Georgia where he was the Redcoat Marching Band’s drum major for two years

• Received his Master of Education in music education from Georgia College & State University

• Teaches AP music theory and leads a band program that consists of multiple concert bands, marching band, jazz band, basketball pep band, pit orchestra, chamber ensembles, and a private lessons institute

• His bands have performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., and the Southeastern United States Honor Band Festival at Troy University

Associate conductor of Tara Winds and guest conductor of the Georgia Brass Band

In 2022-23, Michael Kobito will mark his eighth year conducting the Woodland High School bands in Cartersville. Photo by Emily Kobito.
PAGE One | 33Fall 2022

AdvocAcy Growth

Protection economy

We’ve Got You Covered.

• $1 million liability coverage


• $10,000 coverage policy for legal defense of employment, criminal, and ethics cases with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission

• All coverage is “win or lose” with no reimbursements, deductibles, or up-front costs

• Direct access to one-on-one, privileged, and confidential guidance from an expert legal team with more than 75 years combined education and labor law experience

• Interactive Code of Ethics presentations, FAQs, and informative resources.

• See page 44 for this month’s legal column


• Your voice at the Capitol — and with policymakers at the local, state, and national level

• PAGE engages lawmakers on a variety of issues that affect educators and students throughout the year and especially during each session of the Georgia General Assembly.

• Advocacy focus areas include salary increases and pay supplements, school funding, teacher evaluation, assessment and accountability, the Teachers Retirement System, and preventing the expansion of private school vouchers


• Growth-focused professional learning opportunities throughout the state.

• Grants to support your classroom and growth as a Georgia educator. PAGE Educator Grants have assisted more than 500 members to date.

• Scholarships to support your continuing education and career goals. More than $600,000 awarded since program inception. Learn more about this year’s winners on page 10 or visit www.pageinc. org/scholarships/ for details

• Teacher and student recognition programs and academic competitions: STAR, Academic Decathlon, and more.

• Future Georgia Educators initiatives support Georgia’s teacher pipeline.

• PAGE One magazine, annual New Teacher Guide, educator resource materials, and more to keep you informed


• More benefits than any other Georgia educator association

• Your best value:

— Less than $15 monthly for certified personnel

— Less than $8 monthly for support staff

• Dues support you — not political action committees; local, state, or national candidates; national organizations; or non-education issues

• Dues stay in Georgia to work for you

• Turn to page 39 to locate contact information for the PAGE representative in your area

PAGE is the nation’s largest independent educator association with members serving in every Georgia school district and the best option for your professional future. Membership is available to all Georgia educators and school employees as well as college and high school students enrolled in education courses. Learn more at

Michele Dechman Joins PAGE as District 2 Membership Services Representative

Michele Dechman, the new PAGE District 2 Membership Services Representative (MSR), brings her love of learning and teaching to her new role of supporting educators. She also brings a personal understanding of the value of PAGE membership.

“Serving as a PAGE MSR is the perfect second career for me. I can remain in the field of education, enjoy driving some of the most beautiful country roads in the state, meet and support new people, and build lasting relationships.”

And as she travels her southwest Georgia district, Dechman spreads the message that PAGE is ready to support educators in myriad ways.

“People often think of PAGE solely from a legal point of view, but the professional learning and legislative advocacy, as well as the grant and scholarship opportunities PAGE

offers are great as well. I will be the one to help District 2 educators realize all the benefits that being a PAGE member has to offer,” Dechman said.

A relationship-builder, Dechman joins PAGE after a 30year career in education, including 21 years for Thomas County Schools. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida State University and her specialist’s degree from Valdosta State University. Dechman grew up in Arcadia, Florida, but settled with her husband in Thomasville two decades ago.

During her first few years as an educator, she was the instructor for the school system’s three-year-old developmentally delayed program. She then moved to the middle school where she was an inclusion teacher in addition to supporting students with visual disabilities throughout the district. From there, she returned to elementary grades and worked with students with disabilities, students in the early intervention program, and gifted students. She also developed a coding and robotics course, complete with a wide variety of robots and drones for student use.

The following chapter of Dechman’s career took her to Thomas County’s Bishop Hall Charter School. While there, Dechman was an instructional coach and was eventually named an assistant principal.

Dechman and her husband have one son, a student at Kennesaw State University. She enjoys acrylic painting and is a devoted Florida State University sports fan.

“Serving as a PAGE MSR is the perfect second career for me. I can remain in the field of education, enjoy driving some of the most beautiful country roads in the state, meet and support new people, and build lasting relationships.”
- Michele Dechman
Michele Dechman, the newest PAGE Membership Services Representative, serves southwest Georgia. ■ Michele Dechman
PAGE One | 37Fall 2022


Who Are They and How Can They Help?

• Wondering who to reach out to when you have questions about your PAGE membership?

• Have an issue or concern that you need to bring to PAGE’s attention — but aren’t sure what department or staff member to contact?

• Interested in scheduling a Code of Ethics presentation at your school or district office?

• Looking for information about a Future Georgia Educators (FGE) program or event?

• Need to know the name of your PAGE building contact or how to subscribe to PAGE Capitol Reports?

For answers to these questions and more, call or email your PAGE Membership Services Representative (MSR) or College Services Representative (CSR). You’ll find MSR contact information on the map to your right and CSR contact information below. If preferred, send an email to

North Georgia

College Services

South Georgia


Jo Breedlove-Johnson Mary Ruth Ray Diane Ray
38 | PAGE One Fall 2022
58 | PAGE One Spring 2022

Hayley Gilreath District

Membership Services Representatives



Shirley Wright District 5

Larrell Lewis-Oliver

Gina Tucker District 4B

Kathy Arena District 10

Dr. Bob Heaberlin District 6


Spalding County

Peggy Brown District 11

Linda Woods District 1

Joey Kirk


Michele Dechman District 2

Laura Clements District 13

PAGE One | 39Fall 2022
Visit to access additional details about PAGE membership — including this MSR / CSR map. Spring 2022 PAGE One | 59 1 11 3B 12 8 13 2 10 Valdosta City Pelham City Thomasville City 6 Carrollton City Bremen City 5 Marietta City 3A 4B 4A Decatur City Buford City Social Circle City 9 Gainesville City Commerce City Je erson City7 Diann Branch District 9
Provost District 3B
District 4A
Joy Robinson District 8
Breedlove -Johnson District 3A Chickamauga City Calhoun City Dalton City Rome City Cartersville City Dade Walker Catoosa Whit eld Murray Gilmer Gordon PickensChattooga Floyd Bartow Polk Paulding Cherokee APS Fulton Clayton DeKalb Gwinnett Cobb Hart Forsyth Stephens Franklin Habersham Hall Dawson Rabun White Fannin Banks Towns Lumpkin Union Madison Jackson Barrow Spalding Dougla Lamar Fayett Troup Coweta Haralson Carroll Meriwether Heard Pike Upson Harris Talbot Chattahoochee Muscogee Houston Bibb Macon Peach Crawford Schley Taylor Marion Decatur Grady Thomas Colquitt Mitchell Bake Calhoun Randolph Miller Early Clay Quitman Dougherty Worth LeeTerrell SumteWebster Stewar Seminole Jones Morgan Monroe Newton Putnam Henry Jasper Rock dale Butts Walton Baldwin Je erson Richmond Columbia Glascock McDu eW Greene LincolnWilkes Taliaf Hancock Oglethorpe Elber Clark Oconee Burke Je Davis Co ee Irwim Ben Hill Turner Wilcox Crisp Dooly Pulask Dodge Telfair Wheeler Mont gomery Treutlen Johnson Laurens Bleckley Twiggs Wilkinson Washington Appling Bacon Pierce Wa AtkinsonBerrien Tift Wayne McIntosh Long Liberty Bryan Chatham Evans Tattnal Toombs E ngham BullochCandler Screven Jenkins Emanuel Brooks Lowndes Lanier Echols Clinch Charlton Camden GlynnBrantley Cook


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Tina Folsom Joins the PAGE Legal Team

Tina Folsom, who joined the PAGE legal team in August, is devoted to the law — especially education law.

She has 23 years of experience, including 16 years as a PAGE network attorney. She first practiced in Albany but moved with her husband to Valdosta where she joined the firm of Langdale Vallotton. There, she practiced various areas of law, but education law, she says, was her favorite.

“Ever since I was a young child, I wanted to be an attorney so I could help people,” says Folsom. “My connection to education both through family and PAGE has offered an ideal way to pursue that passion.”

Folsom arrived at PAGE with a nexus of contacts. “Relationships are key,” she notes, “and I bring relationships with administrators, human resources, and legal counsel.”

Folsom received her Juris Doctor degree from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law in 1999 and is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Court of Appeals for the State of Georgia, as well as the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. She is past president of the board of directors for the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL). Folsom is also a member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.

In 2012, Tina was chosen by her peers as a Georgia Rising Star, being among the top up-and-coming lawyers in the state. Each year, no more than two and a half percent of Georgia lawyers receive this honor. In 2019, Tina received the Chief Justice

Robert Benham’s Commission on Professionalism Community Service Award. In 2020, Tina was selected to the Super Lawyers list.

Folsom is active in her ValdostaLowndes community and is currently a president of the board of directors for the Turner Center for the Arts. She is past president of the Tennis Valdosta board of directors and has served as a dedicated volunteer for many other groups, including as a member of the Leadership Lowndes board of trustees and past president of the board of directors for Lowndes Associated Ministry for People, Inc. (LAMP)Valdosta’s organization serving people experiencing homelessness.

Tina Folsom, who has served as a PAGE network attorney for many years and is the latest addition to the PAGE legal team, prepares to lead a Georgia Professional Standards Commission Code of Ethics training.

She is married to Brad Folsom (also an attorney) and they have two children, Madison, who will be a senior at UGA, and Lauren, who will be a freshman at Mercer this year.

To contact the PAGE Legal Department, call 770-216-8555 or 800-334-6861 and choose option 1 or send an e-mail to

Tina Folsom
“Ever since I was a young child, I wanted to be an attorney so I could help people. My connection to education both through family and PAGE has offered an ideal way to pursue that passion.”
PAGE One | 41Fall 2022


BIVINS MILLER: PAGE District 1 Board of Directors Member

New PAGE board member Bivins Miller was called to education early in life - by incredible Georgia teachers: “Miss Bigham. Miss Burke. Mr. Pope. So many others. I could name someone at every grade level who has had a profound impact on me,” he says. “My public school experience has revolutionized who I am as a person.”

Miller heeded the call, and he continues to answer it with passionate intensity. “Education is the essence of everything,” he notes. “The work is hard - and vital. It is the educators of today who are ultimately shaping

the society of the future by providing our children with the academic, social, and emotional tools to become citizens of the world. Given this, education should be upheld with the highest regard.”

An inherently positive person, Miller seeks to identify opportunities within challenges. During this time of extreme adversity, he says, “we need to seek out opportunities to lead, engage, and network. If we can weather this storm - and we will - we will be better.”

“As teachers, we need to ensure that we’re telling our story to legislators also,” Miller continues, “by contacting Bivins Miller

“The work is hard — and vital. Education is the essence of everything.”
42 | PAGE One Fall 2022

them and letting them know what’s going on, spotlighting education in the most positive way possible.” The annual PAGE Day on Capitol Hill events, as well as one-on-one personal advocacy with lawmakers, Miller observes, are excellent ways “to make our voices heard.”

Miller is also positive about his role on the PAGE board. “I’ve been a PAGE member since college,” he notes. “Being a member has enabled me to understand current educational policy while also maintaining awareness of effective implementation of professional practices throughout the great state of Georgia. Now, as a board member, I want to help educators understand that PAGE is more than liability insurance. I hope to spread the word that PAGE also provides legislative advocacy and professional learning with a purpose - supplying educators with what they actually need in the classroom.”

These are difficult times in public education, observes Miller, with much progress needed. “Creativity is essential to progress,” he says, “and educators are the most creative people I know. We’ll continue to assess how we do things and what refinements can be made so that we can work smarter, not harder, and find even more ways to be creative - for teachers, staff, and always doing our best for kids.”

Currently serving as principal of Richmond Hill High School in Bryan County, Miller has more than 14 years of teaching and administrative experience - all in Georgia.

His wife Danielle is also a Bryan County educator, a first grade teacher. The Millers have five daughtersChloe, Molly, Lucy, Kallie, and Kelsie. ■

Above, new District 1 board member and Richmond Hill High School principal Bivins Miller dressed as a turkey with Richmond Hill students on the Friday before Thanksgiving break.

“I’ve done it at both the elementary and high school levels,” says Miller, “and regardless of age, it has always brightened the spirit and day of all involved.”

At left, Miller is joined by his wife and five daughters on a trip to the coast.

PAGE One | 43Fall 2022
To locate your PAGE Board of Directors member, scan the QR code at right or visit


Tenure for K-12 Georgia Public School Educators

The assurance of job security during turbulent economic times provides comfort and reduces anxiety. Tenure protections, for that reason, have become increasingly important to educators. With that in mind, let’s review the current status of tenure for public school educators in Georgia.

What Is Tenure?

The Georgia Fair Dismissal Act (FDA) establishes and sets the parameters for tenure rights for K-12 public school educators. A tenured employee is one who has the right to expect continuous employment by their school system. Tenure, or fair dismissal rights as it is also commonly known, does not guarantee lifetime employment. Rather, under the FDA, in the event of a non-renewal or demotion, a tenured employee has the right to a formal due process hearing to contest that adverse employment action. The school system must show cause at that hearing to sustain the non-renewal or demotion. Cause includes, but is not limited to, such grounds as incompetence, insubordination, willful neglect of duties, and failure to secure and maintain necessary educational training.

How To Acquire Tenure

In Georgia, an educator establishes tenure by accepting four consecutive, full-year, full-time employment contracts with the same public school system. All those elements must be fulfilled. Once an educator has established tenure in one Georgia system, he or she can establish tenure in another system by accepting two consecutive, full-year, full-time contracts with that new system.

Who Can Establish Tenure?

Teachers, counselors, media specialists, social workers, school psychologists, and other teacher-level employees can establish tenure in Georgia. Classified staff and the vast majority of administrators are not entitled to tenure protections under state law. Tenure for administrators was eliminated in 1995.

Where Tenure May Not Exist

Tenure may not exist in some charter systems or Strategic Waiver School Systems (SWSS). A charter system is one that has received a broad waiver from most state laws and rules, including the FDA. Tenure rights exist in a charter system only if the charter, board policy manual, contract, or some other writing from the system indicates it applies. A SWSS is a public school system that operates under a contract with the Georgia State Board of Education. It may or may not have waived the FDA as part of that contract with the state. Educators should be aware and keep abreast of the types of systems they are in and if the FDA is applicable, as their school systems’ statuses may change. Therefore, it is imperative to review your system’s board policy manual, employment contract, employee handbook and related documents, and, if applicable, its charter or Strategic Waiver contract. Tenure protections rarely, if ever, exist for educators employed by private schools in Georgia.

Contact PAGE

As a PAGE member, you have access to one-on-one, privileged, and confidential guidance from a legal team with more than 75 years combined education and labor law experience. If you would like to discuss your tenure status, have questions about the FDA and related laws, or would like input from a PAGE attorney on any legal matter, please contact us for assistance. You can reach the PAGE legal department by calling 770-216-8555 or 800334-6861 and selecting option 1, or by sending an email to ■

Leonard D. Williams is a staff attorney with PAGE. A graduate of Georgia State University College of Law, Leonard has a wealth of knowledge in and experience with education and employment law. Leonard has served PAGE members since 2002.
44 | PAGE One Fall 2022
PAGE One | 45Fall 2022

Thanks for all the great photos!

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos for the “mosaic of education” design of this issue’s cover and feature story. PAGE selected 10 submissions in a random drawing. To the educators pictured here, your $25 Amazon gift card will arrive by email in the next few weeks. Thank you all so much!

Frances Ford Pelham City Schools Teshia Stovall Dula Gwinnett County Schools Dillon McFry Gordon County Schools Samantha Ott Bryan County Schools Tommicko Griffith Clayton County Schools Janet Kirby Gwinnett County Schools Dr. Meitra Perry Paulding County Schools
46 | PAGE One Fall 2022
Ellen Tarleton Jones County Schools LaDonna Stevenson Fulton County Schools Tyler Sapp Bleckley County Schools
PAGE One | 47Fall 2022 C M Y CM MY CY CMY K ZooATL-Page-One-Virtual-Ivan.pdf 1 8/1/2022 4:14:59 PM
REGISTER NOW FOR PAGE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING Cohorts for the spring sessions of PAGE Engage!, The Transformational Principal Institute, The Exceptional Assistant Principal, and PAGE Engage! Induction are now forming. All resources are provided. And there are no registration fees for PAGE members. To learn more, scan the QR code at right or visit

100% Online Education Programs

Your students deserve your best. Brenau University will bring it out of you, without taking you out of the classroom. Our online programs give you an advanced education to reach your full potential and help your students reach theirs.




Grades Education

48 | PAGE One Fall 2022
Choose from: •
in Elementary Education •
in Middle
in Special Education • Ed.S. in Elementary Education • Ed.S. in Middle Grades Education • 5 Education Endorsements, including ESOL and Autism REACH YOUR POTENTIAL TO UNLOCK THEIRS Call 888-822-1832 or visit to become the best teacher you can be.


I ntroduces New Membership Platform

Keeping pace with your needs, PAGE has streamlined the system for joining, renewing, and updating your member profile. Visit or scan the QR code below to create an account and access this new, easy-to-use platform.

It’s Now Simpler Than Ever To:


If you transfer from a school system where you are on payroll deduction, you’ll need to provide PAGE with this new information in order to maintain membership and prevent a lapse in coverage and benefits.


Review your contact information, updating if needed, to ensure accuracy. Providing a personal email rather than a work email address is preferred as some school system filters will prevent receipt of messages.


When transitioning from student to teacher, ensure continued coverage by also transitioning your membership to professional. And you’ll receive your first year at half price!

Visit or scan the QR code below to access the platform.

PAGE One | 49Fall 2022
Learn More About Our Graduate Programs ADVANCE YOUR CAREER. GO WEST. THE UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA’S COLLEGE OF EDUCATION IS #1 IN COMPLETERS IN THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMS: • Educational Leadership - Tier 1 • Media Specialist • Reading Specialist Education • School Counselor • Special Education Adapted Curriculum • Special Education General Curriculum • Speech and Language Pathology *Data extracted from Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) Traditional Program Management System for AY21 Completers

The PAGE One Team


President-Elect Khrista Henry Treasurer Lamar Scott

President Dr. Oatanisha Dawson District 1 Bivins Miller

Past President Lindsey Martin Secretary Dr. Susan Mullins


District 2

Dr. Brecca Pope

District 3

Mary Case District 4

Rochelle Lofstrand

District 5

Dr. Shannon Watkins

District 6

To Be Filled

District 7

Lance James

District 8

To Be Filled District 9

Jennie Persinger District 10

To Be Filled District 11 Amy Carter District 12 TaKera Harris District 13 Daerzio Harris


Vickie Hammond

Dr. Sheryl Holmes

The PAGE Board of Directors is made up of five Officers (President, PresidentElect, Secretary, Treasurer, and Past President), 13 District Directors and two Retired Georgia educators. A District Director must be an active member of the association and have his/her place of business and office in the district which such member represents. Nominations for District Directors and Officers are made by a nominating committee after an interview process of those who have been recommended or expressed interest in serving. District Directors and Officers are then elected for a three-year term via the annual online business meeting of the Association by a majority vote of the members. The two retired Georgia educators who serve on the Board are appointed by the President and approved by the Board for a three-year term. To express interest or apply for a District Director position, please contact your MSR (info. on page 39 of this issue and at https://www. or Dr. Hayward Cordy ( Each year, there are four or five District Directors with expiring terms that are up for election.

Passionate about clear, engaging communications, Ramona is an alumna of UCLA who honed her craft in the film industry before founding a Georgia-based creative agency. An education policy fellow and former district II chair of the Georgia School Public Relations Association, Ramona led DeKalb County School District’s stakeholder engagement initiative – launching an awardwinning magazine and branding campaign. Ramona joined the PAGE Communications team in 2019.

Dolly brings to PAGE experience in the Atlanta news media, in higher education, and at several non-profits. An Agnes Scott College alumna and Leadership DeKalb graduate, she has garnered top awards for writing and photography from Georgia Press Association, Suburban Newspapers of America, Georgia PTA, and others. She is NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity’s photographer in her spare time.

To contact the PAGE One Team, email us at

The articles and advertisements published in PAGE One represent the views of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, except where clearly stated.

To submit a topic for consideration, visit

For advertising rates and opportunities, contact Sherry Gasaway of New South Publishing: 678-689-8303 or

Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contributions by federal law. Costs for PAGE advocacy on behalf of members are not deductible. PAGE estimates that seven percent of the nondeductible portion of dues is allocated to advocacy.

PAGE One (ISSN 1523-6188) ©copyright 2022 is mailed to all PAGE members, selected higher education units, and other school-related professionals. An annual subscription is included in PAGE membership dues. A subscription for others is $10 annually. Periodicals class nonprofit postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. (USPS 017-347) Postmaster: Send address changes to PAGE One, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141–2270.

PAGE One is published by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. ©Copyright 2022.

PAGE One | 51Fall 2022
COLLEGE of EDUCATION James L. & Dorothy H. Dewar


Elementary and Special Education

Middle Grades Education

Secondary Education in English, Mathematics, History, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics

P-12 Education in Art, Music, and Physical Education

Education leaders choose UNG.

For more than 140 years, the University of North Georgia has been developing education leaders who are highly sought after for their skills and experience. Our innovative graduate degrees and endorsement programs help educators advance their education and their careers.

Melissa Silva ‘19 UNG graduate and Fulbright scholar now teaching in Hall County Schools.


Post-Baccalaureate Initial Teaching Certification Program

Master of Arts in Teaching Initial Certification Program

Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Master of Education in Middle Grades Mathematics and Science

Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Tier I Educational Leadership Certification Program

Tier II Educational Leadership Educational Specialist Degree Program or Certification-Only Program

Educational Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Practice

Autism Endorsement

English for Speakers of Other Languages Endorsement

Gifted Education Endorsement

Reading Endorsement

International Baccalaureate Certificate

Diversity Certificate

Post Master’s Certificate in Transfer Leadership and Practice

Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate

Learn More UNG.EDU/COLLEGE-OF-EDUCATION Email or Blue Ridge • Cumming • Dahlonega • Gainesville • Oconee • Online UNG is designated as a State Leadership Institution and as The Military College of Georgia®.


Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, ’10 Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, ’17 Principal, Springdale Elementary School Bibb County Public

Mercer’s College of Education influenced me to be the kind of leader who inspires and motivates teams to lead innovative change . I am living my personal mission statement of re-imagining learning for students to flourish in a changing world.
MERCER UNIVERSITY IS HERE TO HELP YOU LEAD THE WAY IN EDUCATION THROUGH OUR PH.D. IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN P-12 SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Advance your career in elementary, middle grades, P-12, or secondary education and educational leadership | . M.ED. | ED.S. | PH.D. | ENDORSEMENTS Mercer University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Education programs that lead to initial and advanced certification are approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). “ FIND YOUR PROGRAM 800.762.5404 NO GRE REQUIRED for most programs Tuition benefit through Enterprise Learning Partnership program Blended combination of online and on-campus classes Embedded Tier II Certification within degree program ”