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A Lifetime of Dedication to Chattooga County Students: Kathy Floyd

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As October closed so did an era in the hallowed halls of Chattooga Academia. Kathy Floyd started her teaching career 3 decades ago. Join us on a walk through the career of one of Chattooga County’s favorite teacher, Ms. Kathy Floyd.

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Kathy Floyd’s teaching career, in her words:

After graduating form Chattooga High School in 1978, I went to Young Harris College (a two year school then) and graduated in 1980.  I then graduated from the University of Georgia in 1983 with a degree in Criminal Justice.  I did not want to be a teacher.  (We had four in my family) I wanted to work with juvenile delinquents as a probation officer. I think I saw a movie one time about that and decided that is what I wanted to do.  While waiting for that “perfect” opportunity to come along, I worked for my father at the Super D Dime store in Trion.  I was the assistant manager there while he ran the one in Summerville.  After two years there I was offered a position at Cherokee Estates in Dalton.  This is a home for children who, for whatever reason, could not be in their home.  I was a house parent for middle grades to high school girls in the emergency house.  They would come and go while waiting for their permanent placement.  I got them up and ready for school, fixed their breakfast and they left.  I was pretty much left alone until they got home.  Needless to say, I was bored to death and knew this wasn’t the place for someone young and ready to work!!!

 

I left after 6 weeks and went back to the Super D.  One day, then Chattooga County Superintendent Donnie Hayes, came in to the store and we talked about my latest situation.  He told me I should think about going back to school to get certified to teach.  I looked into it.  It didn’t seem too overwhelming so I did.  And in 1985 he hired me to teach.  The gifted resource teacher had taken a leave of absence and I replaced her.  I went to Lyerly, Menlo, Pennville, and Summerville Elementary.  With no teaching experience and only two education classes, I was lost.  So I turned to Wanda Petitt at the junior high to help me.  She got me pointed in the right direction and I was off.  However, when the state finally got back to me after applying for a provisional certificate, we found out they would not allow me to teach gifted without at least a year’s teaching experience. So I had to finish up to the end of December on substitute pay, take a Children’s Literature independent study class in two weeks, and reapply in January.  I could teach, just not gifted.  Thank goodness for two things at that point.  One, my mother was a librarian at the Chattooga County Library (she helped me in the Children’s Lit class) and two, Brenda Harris, a remedial reading teacher at SES, agreed to swap jobs with me.  She became the gifted teacher at the four different schools and I became the remedial reading teacher at SES.

 

In the fall of 1986, the “new” Summerville Middle School opened.  Because they were offering full “exploratory” classes(now we call them connections classes) Robbie Robison, who had taught 7th grade Social Studies at the SJHS was now going to teach art full time.  That left a SS job opened and they gave it to me.  This is when I found my true calling.  I was finally a teacher.  Had I not been so stubborn and refused to major in education I would have had at least two years under my belt (and towards my retirement) by this point.  We live and we learn I guess.

 

I remember that first day at SMS.  It was a brand new school and so nice.  David Jones, principal, was very proud of it.  He stayed on the faculty, the students and the custodians to keep it nice.  It was his pride and joy.  I don’t blame him at all.  In fact, I believe that is one reason the school still looks so good after 30 years.  I remember a boy getting sick in my class about the second week of school.  I told him to run to the bathroom (I would have thrown up if he had done it in my room) but he didn’t make it and threw up right outside my door on the brand new carpet.  Mr. Jones was so upset.  He wasn’t upset at the boy but that there was a permanent stain on that carpet.  It was kind of shaped like map of the USA.  I guess I should have offered him the trashcan.

 

Throughout my career I have taught mainly Social Studies which I love.  I have also taught reading, science, English (grammar), gifted resource and even art for 5 years.  In 1998, Mr. Robison was teaching art and gifted.  I had just gotten my gifted endorsement and I so wanted to teach it.  He was leaving us to go into administration in Calhoun and I knew that I would have to teach art or something in the exploratory field if I was to teach gifted.  So I convinced Mitch Williams that I could teach art.  Even though he was skeptical and several teachers thought I couldn’t do it, those 5 years I did was some of the best years I taught.  I learned that I did not have to be an artist.  I just had to offer students the materials to the students to create their own work.  I think they did great.   Mr. Williams gave me many opportunities to try different things.  I believe that is why he was one of my favorite principals for which to work.

 

1994 was one of the greatest highlights of my career.  I was team teaching with Missy Lanier and Jeffney Fletcher.  We made a great team.  We played off each other and meshed so well that I feel our students benefitted from that camaraderie.  We were given the title of “Team of the Year.”  What an honor among so many outstanding teams that year.  We also were able to present at the Georgia Middle School Conference in Savannah.  We had compiled a book of fun, creative things to do with middle school curriculum.  We had examples of our student’s work and ways we had done activities creatively.  It was scary to present to 100’s of other middle school teachers.  We had standing room only as we presented but it went great.  We were able to bring remarkable feedback from those at the convention.  It was truly a great year.

 

Teaching gifted the past 8 years has also been a highlight of my career.  I was given a group of students who for the most part wanted to learn and wanted to do elaborate projects.  I gave them that opportunity to go beyond the regular classroom.  Some times I assigned projects to them but the best projects were when I said, “Here is a list of criteria, now you go with it and pick your own topics.”  The best times in those 8 years has been our annual overnight field trips.  I will miss those.

 

Another highlight of my career was being the Y-Club sponsor, along with Susan Reece, at SMS for 12 years.  I had to give it up due to family obligations but we had such fun with our members through the years and hopefully instilled in some, Christian leadership and values.

 

I think faith is something that people will remember me for.  Maybe the Y-Club years is the reason for that.  In teaching in my classroom, I hope my students saw I loved them (still do) and that I just wanted them to be as good as they could be in taking a test or doing my work, but more importantly to be as good as they could be in anything they did.  I never preached or prayed with my students.  I do not feel that was my job.  But I hope they saw a little of Christ in me in the love I tried to show to them even if it sometimes it was tough love.

 

I have many students I am so proud of.  I could never mention all their names but some are doctors and pharmacists, some are lawyers, some are teachers, some are nurses and x-ray technicians and some have served or are serving in our military.  Some are businessmen and women. Some work at Mt. Vernon or Mohawk or Roper.  Some work at Wal-Mart or McDonalds. Some are mothers and fathers.  I am proud of them all.  I pray for those who have not been as fortunate and have fallen on hard times mostly through drugs.  I read the paper each week and my heart hurts for some I read about.  I wish they had listened more and taken another road.  So I continue to pray for them.

 

I can honestly say that my 30 years in Chattooga County has been great.  I will miss the students.  I will miss the fellowship with other teachers.  I will miss a lot.  But I won’t miss the meetings for this and for that, or the detailed lesson planning, and the testing and the way society makes you feel you have never done enough.  I will not miss the blame of the fall of society on teachers and lack of a good education.  Times have changed so much in 30 years but I am sure those teaching 30 years ago felt it had changed as well.  Change is good sometimes.  We need to keep up with the times but we should never stop loving our students.  They need to feel you love them and care about them.  I hope mine did.  I have no idea how many students I have taught in all these years but I hope they knew I did care.

 

One Chattooga.  As I stated I graduated from Chattooga High, my two brothers and sister also graduated from Chattooga.  I started at Summerville Elementary (after Miss Rosemary McWhorter’s kindergarten), then to North Summerville, and the Summerville Junior High before the high school.  My father was instrumental in building the stadium we play in on Friday nights.  I have always been proud to be from Chattooga and always will.  I was “One Chattooga” before it was cool.  I will always remember and tear up when I hear “In Chattooga’s lovely valleys, hills on every side, stands our noble alma mater, our joy and pride.”  Thank you from the bottom of my heart everyone who has made the past 30 years of teaching so wonderful and the past 50 years in the school (minus college years) system so great.  Don’t forget me.

Kathy Floyd’s teaching career, in our words:

Former Chattooga County Superintendent Skipper Stewart, “when I worked as AP at the middle school I had the opportunity to observe Ms. Floyd and immediately realized the impact she had on students. Her compassion for students and teaching was evident in both the classroom and commitment to support students in their after school activities. Years later, when I serves as superintendent, Ms Floyd came to my office and asked if I would consider recommending her for an administrative position. My response was, “we just can’t afford to loose you in the classroom.” I could see the dissatisfaction in her face but know her presence for the remainder of her career had significant impact on many students. Good teachers are called to tender the needs of a community and Ms Floyd answered that call. Thank you Kathy for giving it your all – job well done.”

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Former student Maurice Farmer  (soldier above) still visits Ms. Floyd and her students when he is in town. “She is awesome teacher and person. She genuinely cared about all her students. A lot of life lessons I learned while in her class I will carry with me the rest of my life. Chattooga County is losing a wonderful teacher. Love you Miss Floyd.”

 

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Co-worker Phyllis Odom, “Mrs. Floyd loves her students and they love her. She encourages them to reach out and help others. For example, she and her students sent a care package to a former student who was serving in Afghanistan. She also reaches out to people in other parts of the world. She has helped to secure a home for a young woman and her family in Haiti for several years.”

 

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Co-worker, Missy Lanier, “Kathy Floyd has done so much for the children of Chattooga County. It was a joy teaching with her for so many years. Some of the best memories I have from teaching include her; we really made a great team. I wish her all the joys of retirement, but we will miss her.”

 

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“Kathy and I have been best friends since 1986. We were both at SMS when the school began. We have many great memories of teachers, students and events from the halls of SMS. She has influenced many lives during the past 30 years and I wish her many years of happiness and health !!’- Susan Reece

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