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‘Thank you’ to teachers and parents

Thank you.

These are two words not said nearly enough, according to Rod Henderson, assistant superintendent of the Brookhaven School District.

But Henderson said them several times Thursday as he recognized parents, teachers and staff in the district during the end-of-the-year awards ceremony held at Brookhaven High School.

Though he also paid tribute to the five women recognized as Parents of the Year, he showered most of his praise on the teachers and staff seated in the auditorium.

“For everyone in here, those who are not here, and those who have gone on before us and have been in these chairs here, I think you each understand the special roles that you play in the lives of each and every one of our students. I hope you do,” he said. “The world does not understand the pressures and the responsibility that go into the job that you have.”

He said the “thank yous” need to be given more often.

“This here is, in my opinion, the most difficult task — I’m not going to call it a job — in the world in trying our best to educate our students, which everyone knows is our future,” he said. “For everyone who ever wiped a nose, wiped a tear, fixed a wound, fed a child, comforted a child, counseled a child. All these things go along with teaching our students. You’re more than teachers. We’re more than teachers. We’re counselors. We’re parents. We’re nurses. We’re doctors. We’re all of that.

“We, in some of their lives, we’re the best thing that’s going for them each and every day.”

Henderson said that test scores mean a lot, but they’re not as important at the end of the school year as him saying “thank you” to the district’s teachers and staff.

He urged them to enjoy vacation.

“Get away from it all. Find a way to relax your mind, because we all know we’ll be right back here in August,” he said, as laughter erupted in the auditorium. “It will be time to fight the good fight once again.”

Henderson believes it’s a worthwhile fight.

“We’re all going to get weak and weary at times. We’re going to get very tired. We’re going to get discouraged. That’s when we have to lean on each other. That’s when we have to depend on each other,” he said. “The battle is never going to stop, but I believe this district is equipped with the right people, the right individuals to continue the battle. We’re going to lose some and we’re going to gain some more soldiers, and we’re going to keep going, each and every day.”

Recognition was given to the following individuals:

Parents of the Year: Christy Lee from Mamie Martin Elementary, Kristina Mason from Brookhaven Elementary, Suzanne Britt from Lipsey Middle School, Beth King from Alexander Jr. High and Anita Donegan from Brookhaven High School.

Teachers of the Year: Jennifer Hutson of Mamie Martin Elementary, Bridgett Gilmore of Brookhaven Elementary, Shunta Davis of Lipsey Middle School, Kimberly Kolpek of Alexander Jr. High, David Williams of Brookhaven High School, Leah Ann Peavey of Brookhaven Technical Center and Dorothy Quinn of Fannie Mullins School. Gilmore was also recognized as District Teacher of the Year.

Retirees: Amy Valentine, Cheryl Spence, Patricia Smith, Linda Newell, Deborah Davis, Fred Daniel, Jimmie Butler and Howard Franklin.

Urban Teacher Appreciation Grant winners: Katie Cole at Brookhaven High School, Jillian Fuller at Alexander Jr. High, Susannah Godard at Mamie Martin Elementary, Kimberly Kolpek at Alexander High School, Leah Ann Peavey at Brookhaven Technical Center, Mandy Vinson at Brookhaven High School and Markeyta Wilson at Alexander Jr. High.

Recognition pins were also given to employees who marked five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years with the district.