FORT VALLEY -- When Brandi Dents name was called, a loud yelp came from the crowd, and several people leapt to their feet. Dent immediately began wiping tears.
Dent, choral director at Byron Middle School, was overwhelmed and honored to be named Peach County Teacher of the Year on Tuesday during a Board of Education work session.
Brandi could even teach me to sing, Principal Jeff Bell said. Thats how good she is.
A graduate of Valdosta State and Troy universities, Dent got involved with music education after being inspired by her own music teachers as a child. Dent, who has worked for Peach County schools for seven years, is a singer.
Other teachers taught me to want to give hope to others, she said, and music was my inspiration.
Over the years, she has helped several students gain superior ratings at state and regional chorus performances. Currently, she is preparing for a December choral concert and working with eight students who recently made All State Chorus.
We make the music come to life, she said. We give it a heartbeat.
Five other educators were Teachers of the Year at their individual schools and were eligible for the district-wide award. Those teachers are: Dietrich Everett of Fort Valley Middle School, Martha Elliott-Green of Peach County High School, Nicole Kimbrough of Byron Elementary School; Terri Moore of Kay Road Elementary School and Carol Olajide of Hunt Elementary School.
High cost of busmaintenance
In addition to the awards ceremony, the board also received a report that stated $158,000 was spent over the past year on necessary bus maintenance -- more than double the average amount for a district its size, officials said.
The report came from Durham School Services, a company that services school buses and signed a contract with Peach County schools in December 2012. The required maintenance included new brakes and tires, as well as repairs to serious oil leaks and other work. If not repaired, some of those issues could have been dangerous, said Dave Brabender, regional manager for Durham School Services.
Elementary schools present improvement plans
Principals from Byron and Hunt elementary schools made their routine improvement plan presentations Tuesday. At Byron, some of those strategies include increasing professional development and adopting new teaching strategies, particularly in writing, among other efforts, Principal Dannelly Martin said.
At Hunt, administrators also are incorporating more professional development, boosting writing curriculum and other strategies, Principal LaNessia Miller said.