The teacher and support person of the year from Rome City Schools both agree that they love what they do and they owe a lot to their mothers.

Rome City Schools named their Teacher of the Year and Support Person of the Year during a banquet held after the board of education meeting at Rome Middle School.

Gary Jones, a teacher of gifted students at East Central Elementary, was chosen as Teacher of the Year and Aquila Askew, a paraprofessional at Southeast Elementary School, was chosen as Support Person of the Year.

“My mom always told me that, through God, I can do anything,” said Jones.

He talked about trying to decide in college if he would continue with his original plan, the study of law, or choose another path. Then he remembered a fourth-grade teacher who also told him he could do anything, if he believed in himself.

“I realized I wanted to plant seeds like that, too,” he said. “When I told my mom I wasn’t going to do exactly what I’d planned, she told me that God chose me to do great things. A teacher is the greatest thing; that is why I chose it.”

Jones said he goes to school happy every day.

“I’m even happy when it is Monday,” he said.

Askew, who works at the same school she attended as a child, also credits her mother.

“I wouldn’t be here without my precious mom,” she said. “She is the reason I am who I am today.”

Askew expressed her own enjoyment for her job.

“I love each and every  one of you all and this is just awesome,” she said. “I want you all to know, if you ever need help at all, call me.”

The runner-up teacher of the year was Jennifer Short from Southeast Elementary.

“I’ve been asked what my dream job is,” Short said. “I am doing it. I wouldn’t trade Southeast for a million bucks.”

The runner-up for support person of the year was Teresa Price, administrative assistant to the superintendent.

“I feel like every support person we have deserves this award,” said Price. “I am lucky to have such a great team to work with.”

Individual school winners of the teacher of the year award were Vicky Reece, Elm Street Elementary; Amanda Mayo, Main Elementary; Brittany Little, North Heights Elementary; Keith Thrash, Rome High; Cynthia Ray, Rome Middle; Haley Wade, West Central Elementary; and Brant Amerman, West End Elementary.

Individual school winners for support person of the year award were Pam Pippen, East Central; Julie Clonts, Elm Street; Elaine Treglown, North Heights; Robin Miller, Main; Leanne Chambers, Rome High; Sherri Hinton, Rome Middle; Patti Blackmon, West Central; Stacey Bonner, West End; and Cynthia Henderson, maintenance and transportation.

Interim Superintendent John Jackson said he is proud of all of the winners, adding that the people are what makes a difference for schools.

“It isn’t just about having the best curriculum or the best bricks and mortar,” he said. “It is all about having caring, strong people working for us.”

Jones will be the system’s representative in the state teacher of the year contest, which will be decided in May.

Board business

Before the banquet, at the regular board meeting, the board heard about the new Rome City Schools website.

“It took about eight months to put together,” said Tim Fleming, technology director. “We have really tried to make sure that when people go to the site, they see immediately what we are all about.”

The new website includes tabs for the system’s math program, the technological innovations that schools are making and the points of pride for Rome City Schools.

“We wanted to highlight our successes,” Fleming said. “We also included highlights going on now at the bottom, where you can scroll through pictures from dances or plays and featured schools.”

The site also includes a place for parents to register to get updates about events, school closings or inclement weather. Each school also has a new, revamped site.

In other business, the board spent approximately 45 minutes in closed session listening to a presentation from Trudy Sowar, the Georgia School Board Association’s director of superintendent searches.

Sowar told the board about the candidates applying for the superintendent vacancy. The board will decide on a date to meet to discuss the applications.

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