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BCHS, RHHS hold future educator signing days
BCHS future educators
Bryan County High School principal Mary Beth Blankenship, above, talks to Faith Bautista, Logan Brazell and Krista DuBose about their decision to become teachers on Tuesday at the school. Photo provided.

Editor's note: We have combined our coverage of both the Bryan County High and Richmond Hill High School events into this one story..


By Jeff Whitten, Editor.

Faith Bautista plans to teach early childhood education. Logan Brazell aims on becoming a high school history teacher and baseball coach. Krista DuBose wants to each deaf children.

Tuesday, the three Bryan County High School seniors participated in Georgia Future Educators Signing Day, a statewide effort sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education to celebrate seniors who plan on pursuing education careers.

Bautista, the daughter of Ernesto and Aimee Bautista, will attend Brewton Parker College in Mount Vernon. Brazell, the son of Jay and Stephanie Brazell, is headed to East Georgia State College, where he’ll also play baseball on scholarship. DuBose, daughter of Tonya and David DuBose, will attend Valdosta State University.

Their decision to get into education is important, the students were told – starting with video congratulations from State School Superintendent Richard Woods, a former teacher, who called their decision something capable of impacting the entire state.

That was followed by welcome letters from the respective schools read by Dr. Jana Sheilds, the school’s CTAE Family and Consumer Science teacher, and a welcome from Jesse Taylor, admissions director from Valdosta State University.

DuBose chose to study deaf education “because there are not a lot of people that go into the field,” according to brief biographies provided during the ceremony. “She wants to be able to give deaf students the same opportunities that everyone else has.”

Brazell will seek a degree in secondary education and wants to coach “because he can see himself making a difference,” his bio said, noting he sees a need for teachers and role models and “he wants to become that role model and be able to change a kid’s life.”

Bautista chose early childhood education because “she has always loved working with children through church, camps,” and student teaching opportunities in Bryan County Schools. “She couldn’t see herself becoming anything else.”

The students heard from a number of speakers during the ceremony, including Professional Association of Georgia Educators representative Mary Ruth Ray, a longtime educator and school board member from Tattnall County; Mikia Frazier, a second year teacher at Joseph Martin Elementary in Hinesville; Kim Culverhouse, BCHS’ 2019 Teacher of the Year; Counselor Kirstie Mosier; and Principal Mary Beth Blankenship.

They took turns reminded the three aspiring teachers they are embarking on careers that will impact lives in ways they can’t imagine and might never know. “It’s not a job, it’s not work, it’s a calling,” Blankenship said, adding, “Don’t ever take your calling lightly. You could be teaching a future president, a future governor. Remember, it’s a calling, it’s important. The world needs great teachers. Don’t ever forget that what you do is special, and nobody can take your place if you’re not there.”

Frazier told the students to remember their chosen profession is the one that makes all other professions possible. Culverhouse said it is important teachers remember why they teach.

“In becoming a teacher you face long hours of work for very low pay,” she said. “You’re going to be ignored, sometimes you’re going to be belittled.

You’re going to be asked to do more with less, every day. You’re going to leave the classroom most days mentally and physically drained. You’re going to question yourselves, you’re going to sweat and be anxious, and be anxious for your kids, anxious for you, and you’re not going to believe me when I say it’s worth it, but it’s worth it.

Your legacy is going to live on through every student who walks through that room.” And that’s why it is important teachers persevere no matter what, she said.

“Don’t ever give up,” Culverhouse added. “Don’t ever change your expectations. Inspire and motivate your students the best way you know how, try to be the best influence you can be. Don’t teach for money, don’t teach for glory, don’t teach for those mythical summers off … teach to contribute to an educated society, yeah, we know that. But teach because the kids need you. They need somebody like you.”


RH educator signees
Richmond Hill educator signees (l-r) McKenna Winbon, Nikita Snow, Hannah Smith, Akira Privette. Photo by Mike Brown.

By Mike Brown, correspondent.

On a day on which Gov. Brian Kemp signed a half dozen education-related bills into law eight Richmond Hill students signed a letter of commitment to becoming future educators.

It was Georgia Future Educators Signing Day and appropriately the signings— similar to when an athlete signs a letter of intent to play his sport in college—took place during Teacher Appreciation Week. Georgia Future Educators is a program sponsored by the State Board of Education Superintendent’s Office, Division of Career and Technical Education (CTAE), Georgia Early Childhood Education Foundation (GECEF) and Georgia’s colleges and universities.

The purpose of the program is to promote education as a career choice. The signing day is designed to be a day of celebration for those who have chosen to become educators and thus fill future needs for teachers in the state.

Richmond Hill students committing to become teachers were Maia Catibog, Tyler DeVillars, Laura Hughes, Mackenzie Johnson, Helen Lynch, Akira Privett, Hannah Smith, Nikita Snow, Regan Waters and McKenna Winbon.

Of the eight only Privette will not be attending a state university.

Privette instead will be attending Notre Dame, one of the top academic schools in the country which is better known for turning out lawyers, doctors and football players than teachers. She plans on majoring in early childhood education.

Catibog is going to attend the University of Georgia and Waters will be attending Georgia College and State University. DeVillars and Hughes will be at Georgia Southern’s Statesboro campus while Johnson, Lynch, Snow and Winbon will attend Georgia Southern’s Armstrong campus.

Hughes, who wants to pursue a middle grades/ secondary education degree, is undecided about where she will be attending school this fall.

“Actually, I don’t know why I decided to go to Notre Dame,” Privette said. “I know it’s one of the best schools in the country. My Dad always wanted to go there and that influenced me.”

Privette said when she goes to Notre Dame this fall it will be her first time on the South Bend, Ind., campus. Due to COVID restrictions she has been limited to virtual tours.

Another reason Privette elected to attend an out of state such as Notre Dame, which attracts students from all over the world, was the opportunity to meet and assimilate with students who were from different cultures.

“I’m excited,” Privette said. “I want to be able to meet new people. I’ve always been around people who are here and they’re like me.”

Privette, the fourth of seven children, said she was inspired as a ninth-grader to pursue education by Amy Lewis, one of four teachers in the program at Richmond Hill. Lewis teaches Early Childhood Education and Teaching As A Profession along with Jennifer Lynch, Mary Ellen Daniel and Robin Koehler.

“In five short years we have grown from one ECE teacher to four,” said Lynch who was the program’s first teacher and has been teaching for 22 years. “This year Ms. Lewis has facilitated the addition of Teaching as a profession to the department to offer students insight into Middle and Secondary Education careers and philosophy of education.

“We want to continue to inspire students to pursue the profession of education.” A look at the other seven signees and what the said motivated them: Catibog said at Georgia she plans to earn a double major in early elementary education and psychology. She said her past educators have inspired her to want to work with children.

DeVillars plans to major in early childhood education. Her experiences in practicum working with pre-kindergartners encouraged her interest in education.

Hughes is still trying to decide where she plans to go to college but she wants to pursue a middle grades-secondary education degree. Eventually she wants to become a child psychologist.

Johnson plans to pursue a degree in early elementary education stating she has always had a desire to teach.

Lynch plans to major in early elementary education with a minor in counseling. She said she has always appreciated educators and the influence they have on young people.

Smith will be majoring in early elementary education and her motivation to teach comes from her experiences working with children.

Snow will major in early elementary education and she was influenced by all the teachers she has witnessed in her school career that have made a difference in the lives of children.

Waters will be pursuing a degree in early elementary education and her motivation, she said to become a teacher comes from her mother who is a first grade teacher.

Winbon will be looking into elementary education or history at the secondary level. Her practicum experience encouraged her to pursue being an educator as a career. “You have chosen the greatest profession,” Richmond Hill Principal Bivins Miller told the students. “It is the profession of all professions. “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” Miller said. “You have the opportunity to do that. I know the caliber student you are and I know the caliber of education you got.

“If I’m here four years from now we would love to have you back.”

RH educator commits
Richmond Hill Educator Commits (l-r) Helen Lynch, Mackenzie Johnson, Laura Hughes, Maia Catibog listen intently to the speaker. Photo by Mike Brown.

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