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Bulloch Local Spotlight

Bulloch County Schools’ Educators Recognized for Excellence and Leadership

Many Bulloch County Schools’ educators are being recognized for excellence and leadership in their schools, the community, and the state. 

Rogers elected president of state association 

Members of the Georgia Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences have elected Kristen Rogers as their next president.

Rogers, a teacher at Statesboro High School, serves as the school’s Work-Based Learning coordinator and chairperson of its Career Technical & Agricultural Education Department. She worked 14 years as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher before transitioning to Work-Based Learning.

“We are extremely proud of Mrs. Rogers and the leadership she is demonstrating as she represents Bulloch County at the state level,” said Bethany Gilliam, Bulloch County Schools’ director of Career Technical & Agricultural Education.

Wellman wins state award for counseling & career development

The Georgia Association for Career & Technical Education has selected a Bulloch County educator for its Counseling and Career Development Professional Award.

Katherine Wellman, a counselor at Southeast Bulloch High School, received the award during the association’s 75th Annual Summer Conference held June 12-17, at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. Bethany Gilliam, Bulloch County’s director of Career Technical & Agricultural Education and the 2021-2022 president of the association, had the honor of presenting Wellman with her award in front of more than 1,500 career and technical educators from around the state.

Wellman was nominated by the members, and then she was selected by the association’s awards committee. She received a plaque and a $500 stipend to attend the Association for Career & Technical Education’s Region II Conference to be held October 5-7, in Virginia Beach, VA, where she will represent Georgia in the next level of the competition.

Georgia Music Educators Association to showcase Whitaker’s choral program

The Georgia Music Educators Association will showcase Brent Whitaker’s Southeast Bulloch High School Choral Program during its annual In-Service Conference at the Classic Center in Athens, on January 26-28.

Touted as one of the premiere professional development events for music educators, each year the association selects a limited number of choirs (usually four or less) to perform in mini concerts during the event to showcase the best of what Georgia schools have to offer in choral music.

“Choir directors go to these concerts to see the pinnacle of what is possible and to motivate themselves,” said Whitaker, who is the director of choral activities and the Fine Arts Department chairman for SEBHS, where he has served since 2001. “For myself, this is what opened my eyes up to what a choir program could be, and immediately set me on fire to try to become one of them. This is an incredible honor for us, and this is the second time we have been chosen.”

More than 4,000 music directors from elementary to college levels, fine arts supervisors, college students, school administrators, students, and professional musicians performing with selected performing groups will be in attendance at the event.

Whitaker, who has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a master’s degree in Music Technology from Georgia Southern University, established the choral program at Southeast Bulloch High School, which now features an Advanced, a Women’s and a Concert Choir.

The program has achieved international acclaim, has performed at Carnegie Hall, and has been awarded top honors at many national and state competitions, including being twice selected as the Best Overall Choir at Festival Disney in 2017 and 2022. Each year as many as 11 of its student vocalists audition and are selected for the prestigious All-State Chorus and All-State Reading Chorus due to the vocal and sight reading musical skills learned in Whitaker’s program.

McCombs honored by Georgia Junior Science & Humanities Symposium

Statesboro High School Science Teacher Rich McCombs was selected as the 2022 Georgia Region Teacher of the Year by the Georgia Junior Science & Humanities Symposium during its annual event held on the campus of the University of Georgia.

As part of the National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium, each state region selects one teacher whom they believe demonstrates exceptional contributions to promoting student research. McCombs received a $500 stipend as part of the recognition.

The Georgia Junior Science & Humanities Symposium provides an opportunity for high school students from across the state to present the results of their original science, engineering, technology, or mathematics research before a panel of judges to compete for military-sponsored scholarships awards. The top five presenters are invited to advance to the national level of the event.

McCombs is a three-time teacher of the year receiving the coveted accolade at all three schools he’s served: Pahokee Middle Senior and Lake Worth High Schools in Florida and Statesboro High. He was also a top-three finalist for the SECME National Teacher of the Year.

Atlanta Falcons honor Southeast Bulloch Flag Football Coach

Cochran (second from left) along with Coach Nick Cochran and the Flag Football Teams’ captains during the award presentation.

The Atlanta Falcons presented Southeast Bulloch High School Flag Football Coach Marci Cochran with a State Champion Award during the NFL team’s inaugural High School Football Awards Show presented by Emory Healthcare on March 7, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Cochran, along with team captains, led the school’s Flag Football Team to an undefeated 19-win season and a Georgia High School Association Division I Class A-AAAA State Championship in their very first season as a team.

The Atlanta Falcons invited all Georgia High School Association-member tackle and flag football teams to attend the event to celebrate the best of high school football and crown the Atlanta Falcons High School Man of the Year.

First-Year teacher honored by First District Regional Educational Service Area

Brack (fifth from left) is pictured with First District and school and district leaders.

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week in May, the First District Regional Educational Service Agency (First District) recognized Keri Brack, a first-year Kindergarten teacher at Mattie Lively Elementary School, as the First-Year Teacher of the Year for Bulloch County.

“It really was an honor to win such an award,” Brack said. “This award means so much to me. I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was little, so to be living this out now really feels like a dream. It is also extremely rewarding to see all of my hard work pay off. I enjoy what I do so much and I have had tremendous support from my coworkers at Mattie Lively.”

“We are honored to partner with southeast Georgia’s educators and support the important work they do every day to serve students and communities,” said Richard Smith, executive director of First District.

A 2021 graduate of Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Brack is currently pursuing her master’s degree from the university as well.

Oliver honored as exceptional mentor to future teachers

During its 2021-2022 biannual meeting, the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, presented nine educators with Georgia Outstanding Mentor Awards.

Cindy Oliver, a teacher at Southeast Bulloch Middle School, was one of the nine teachers who was recognized for exceptional work as a mentor to future teachers.

“I am thrilled to be chosen as an Outstanding Mentor Teacher for our region,” said Oliver. “As a longtime educator, it is vitally important for me to be a supportive mentor to colleagues, especially the new teachers to the profession. A mentoring relationship begins before teachers ever step foot into the classroom – making contact and establishing the relationship upon hiring, and walking those teachers through the induction phase with coaching, mentoring, and support with not only instructional strategies, but classroom and behavior management skills as well.”

The Association’s nine regional collaboratives each selected a teacher, who in addition to fulfilling their roles to teach children, models, instructs, encourages, and invests time in the development of future teachers to ultimately improve the educational outcomes of children. Oliver was selected by the Southeast District P-20 Regional Collaborative.

Oliver stated that being a clinical supervisor for Georgia Southern University’s College of Education has given her a platform to work with pre-service teachers and help develop their skills of excellence through the teacher education program.

“At the end of my tenure as an educator, I hope to be known for having a commitment to high expectations and high quality instruction,” Oliver said. “By modeling these attributes for other teachers, I will have helped maintain the level of excellence in educators which will have a direct impact on the students of Bulloch County.”

The award is also co-sponsored by the Georgia Association of Educators, the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

Gilliam & Newkirk selected for 2023 Leadership Bulloch class

The Statesboro Bulloch Chamber of Commerce has announced its 2023 Leadership Bulloch class. The 24-member cohort includes Bulloch County Schools’ director of Career Technical & Agricultural Education, Bethany Gilliam, and District 4 Board of Education Member April Newkirk.

According to the Chamber of Commerce’s website, Leadership Bulloch is one of its flagship programs. It is designed to expose business leaders to the opportunities and challenges facing our community as well as to promote and foster the development of leadership. The program educates and prepares community leaders who are committed to shaping the future of our community.

The ten-month program engages the selected leaders in day-long class sessions that cover topics such as regional economics, healthcare, public safety, education, workforce, demographics, diversification and agribusiness.

Bulloch County Schools

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