Each April, the Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCS) seeks nominations of exemplary educators who made outstanding and significant contributions to students, staff, parents and the community during their employment at GSCS. All nominees must have been employed at GSCS for a minimum of 10 years and been retired for at least five years. In August, chosen inductees are honored at a pre-game induction ceremony at the Griffin High School vs. Spalding High School football game.
2018 INDUCTEES: Alberta Blanton, James Johnston, Georgie Matchett & William MatchettTop of Page
Alberta Blanton served the Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCS) as an educator for almost 30 years. She was raised in the Birdie Community of Griffin where she received her elementary and middle education in a one-room school house named Red Oak School and graduated in the Class of 1945 from Griffin Vocational High School. Because of her love of teaching, Blanton was recruited to teach at the Red Oak School for one year before receiving her teaching degree from Clark College in 1954. She began her career at GSCS teaching at Cora Nimmons Elementary School in 1959. In 1967, she transferred to Beaverbrook Elementary School where she holds the distinct title of becoming the school’s first African American teacher. Ms. Blanton was selected as a STAR Teacher by two outstanding graduating seniors and received numerous recognitions and accolades before retiring in 1987.
During his 30+ year career at Griffin High School, James F. Johnston contributed to the education and well being of his students and peers in various capacities. He served as the foreign language department chair and taught English, French, humanities, photography and journalism. In addition, he was the organist for chapel, sold tickets to the home football games and helped his students produce several national award winning yearbooks as the yearbook adviser. Johnston received numerous awards and recognition for his work in education and his community service. After his retirement, Johnston became an active member of the Georgia Retired Teachers Association and served as the president.
Georgie McCrary Matchett was a committed GSCS educator for 35 years. She began her career in 1964 teaching typing, business math and English at Fairmont High School. In 1969, she was one of few teachers to integrate the faculty at Griffin High School teaching typing and businesses classes. In addition to teaching, Matchett served as an advisor to many organizations including the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Vocational Office Training (VOT) and Cooperative Vocational Education (CVE). She was also instrumental in expanding the male Bogarzun Civic Club, introducing the female Bogarzette Civic Club and continuing the legacy of them both. She received numerous honors and awards throughout her teaching career.
William Matchett dedicated over 20 years of his life to educating the youth of Griffin-Spalding County. Matchett began his career in education teaching elementary physical education before becoming a teacher and coach at the middle and high school levels. With a desire to help more students than just those in his class, he sought and obtained a degree in school administration. Matchett served GSCS as a principal at every level serving Atkinson Elementary, Fourth Ward Elementary, Flynt Middle School and Spalding Junior High. As a leader, he was respected as a mentor and role model by his students and staff.
2017 INDUCTEES: Bonnie Ellerbee, Laymon Hattaway Jr. & Tom IsonTop of Page
Bonnie Ellerbee served the Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCS) as a teacher, math coordinator, assistant principal and principal for 30 years. During that time, she made tremendous contributions to the school and district, received numerous recognitions and influenced the lives of many. Mrs. Ellerbee received many grants and implemented many new math and science programs that can still be seen in classrooms. She started the county-wide Challenge 24 competition.
“Through hands-on problem-solving teaching methods, Bonnie Ellerbee created everlasting learning opportunities for GSCS students, parents and teachers” stated Ellerbee’s nominator.
Laymon Hattaway, Jr.
During his 32 year career at GSCS, Laymon Hattaway, Jr. contributed to the education of students in various capacities. He taught science at Spalding Junior High for five years, served as the principal for Third Ward Elementary School for 10 years, was the principal of Spalding Junior High Unit III from 1970 to 1980, during the integration of Fairmont High School and Kelsey Junior High, and served as the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction until he retired in 1986. Hattaway received numerous awards and recognition for his work in education and his community service.
One of Hattaway’s supporters stated, “Laymon Hattaway was a true professional in the field of education and a role model for teachers, parents and students. He was a strong leader with a larger than life personality, huge grin and contagious laughter who demonstrated genuine compassion and concern for all mankind.”
Tom Ison has encompassed many facets of the education profession in his 36 year career at GSCS. He has been a high school history teacher and football coach, guidance counselor, elementary principal and middle school principal. As an administrator, Ison set high expectations for his students and staff but also took the time and provided the support to ensure they excelled. Under his guidance Taylor Street Middle School was selected as a Georgia School of Excellence.
In addition to his degrees in education, Ison is also a licensed attorney. Since he retired, 18 years ago, Ison has served as the Disciplinary Hearing Officer for all school system tribunals.
“Tom Ison’s dedication has and continues to impact student lives. He has been a leader, positive role model, mentor, colleague, motivator, storyteller and friend to many students, teachers, administrators and parents. Our school system is fortunate to have his influence as part of our legacy,” stated a supporter.
2016 INDUCTEES: Dr. Cynthia Anderson and William WalkerTop of Page
Dr. Cynthia Anderson
Dr. Cynthia Anderson taught at Fourth Ward Elementary for 11 years and was named a Teacher of the Year. She then served as an instructional lead teacher at Kelsey Middle School for 10 years and the principal for Anne Street Elementary during a year of leadership transition. She spent her last 13 years at GSCS at the district office serving as the Director of Professional Learning and Director of Elementary and Middle Grades Curriculum. After retiring, she volunteers her time to help GSCS by reading and judging scholarship applications and serving as a Literacy Day judge.
“Dr. Anderson was determined to provide learning opportunities for her students that were innovative, relevant, authentic and responsive,” stated a letter of support.
William Walker taught sixth grade at Moore Elementary for two years and history and math at Fairmont High School for two years. He then served as the principal at Kelsey Middle School for 10 years and Spalding High Unit II for six years. His last 17 years at GSCS were served at the district office as the Director of Federal Programs.
One of Walker’s nominators stated, “William Walker was a hard-working principal with a vision. He went beyond the call of duty to establish and implement a productive learning environment. He was forward thinking for a principal in 1974. Everything I have read as best practices by well-respected leaders in education,
Mr. Walker practiced during the three years that I worked under his leadership.”
2015 INDUCTEES: Nancy Gresham, Margery King, Juliette McCann and Lemuel (Lem) WatkinsTop of Page
Nancy Gresham taught at Griffin High School (GHS) for over 30 years. During that time, she made tremendous contributions to the school, received numerous awards and recognitions and influenced the lives of many. Nancy was named GHS Teacher of the Year, STAR teacher in 1974 and 2004, Who’s Who Among American Educators and received the Golden Apple Award twice. Nancy Gresham taught AP English with a 100% passing rate. In addition, she served as the fine arts department head, literary coordinator and on the graduation committee. She also introduced the television journalism course to GHS which allowed students to broadcast a daily news show to the entire school.
“Nancy Gresham is a gifted person who inspires learning and cares deeply for her students. Her instilling of a desire to learn and challenge myself has likely been one of the most deciding factors in a long road of academic success,” said a former student.
Margery King taught elementary school at GSCS for almost 40 years. She was named Third Ward Elementary Teacher of the Year. Margery chaired the student support team, produced the school’s annual play or musical, judged the geography and spelling bees and assisted in writing the fourth grade science curriculum for the system.
“Margery King’s planning, classroom management and instruction was exceptional. Perhaps more importantly, she demonstrated genuine compassion and concern for every student. She worked tirelessly with underachievers and challenged all students,” wrote her former principal.
For 35 years, Juliette McCann contributed to the education of students in various capacities. She served in a leadership role as the department head for Griffin High Language Arts and also taught standardized test preparation classes. She also served as a judge for Governors Honors, Y-Club advisor, African American History Club advisor and on the graduation committee.
“Mrs. McCann always found creative ways to teach classic literature. She encouraged students to use their talents by writing, playing instruments, constructing objects and acting to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the subject matter,” stated her former student.
Lemuel (Lem) Watkins
Lemuel (Lem) Watkins (deceased) was an educator for almost 40 years. He began teaching Industrial Arts at Griffin High School in 1958. Lem Watkins changed the focus of vocational education from general skills to teaching marketable skills for success regardless of career choice. Through his instruction, education gained value and drop-out rates declined. Students gained a sense of pride in their projects, their expectations increased and their career options were expanded. He also successfully chartered the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA), which unified vocational youth.
The National Trade and Industrial Education Association awarded him with the Outstanding Teacher Award for his contributions in the improvement, promotion, development and progress in trade and industrial education. Lem Watkins also assisted in establishing the Griffin Technical School to ensure vocational instruction would continue after high school.
“Hundreds of lives were transformed by this one man who refused to give up on his students, even when they had given up on themselves,” wrote a former student and supporter.
2014 INDUCTEES: Elizabeth Watkins, Nina Williams Melton Jones and Chappelle Wesley CalhounTop of Page
Elizabeth Watkins was a pioneer in education and taught at GSCS for over 30 years. She began her career as an English teacher and quickly became well known for her ability to motivate students. Elizabeth also became a Hospital Homebound Teacher, taking her teaching skills from the classroom into student homes where she not only educated them but, in many cases, their parents also. In the early years of Special Education, she led the charge for equal educational opportunities for all children.
Elizabeth’s nominee wrote, “Her kind, soft, tough and motivating manner continues to encourage everyone who knows her to learn, study and to keep increasing their knowledge of the world around them. As a role model she is proof that learning never stops, educating yourself never ends and once an educator, always an educator!”
Nina Williams Melton Jones
Nina Williams Melton Jones began her career at GSCS in 1958 as a first grade teacher. Nina later taught high school science and eventually became one of the first elementary school counselors, eventually working with five different schools. During her tenure, she was honored as the District’s Science Teacher of the Year in 1972 as well as the District’s Elementary School Counselor of the Year in 1990.
“Nina Jones cared about people as individuals and was a mentor to many. Her love for learning, her immense compassion for children and her desire to help others drove her. Nina has left us a legacy that will carry on to future generations,” said her nominee.
Chappelle Wesley Calhoun
Chappelle Wesley Calhoun served GSCS as an eighth grade social studies teacher for 34 years. To his students, Mr. Calhoun, was far more than a teacher. He was a mentor, role-model, surrogate parent, counselor, coach, encourager and confidant.
“During his 34 years as an exemplary educator he taught students to correct wrongs, do what is right, ask questions, find answers, earn respect, be a friend, be an example, make a difference, not to live in fear of failure because failure is not final, live their best lives and to live a life that matters,” stated his nominee.
A former student of his wrote, “In 1949, Mr. Calhoun turned our one room school house into a learning wonderland by bringing the subject matter to life. He emphasized the importance of reading, writing and arithmetic as a solid foundation for future learning. I attribute a large part of my academic success to my early learning experiences in that one room under the direction of Wesley Calhoun.”
2013 INDUCTEES: Dr. Richard Beaton, Anne-Marie Lombardo and Frank Touchstone Jr.Top of Page
Dr. Richard Beaton (a.k.a. Doc)
Dr. Richard Beaton, a.k.a. Doc, was a Griffin-Spalding County School System educator for over 30 years. Dr. Beaton taught Latin, English, Greek, German, and reading at Griffin High School.
Dr. Beaton is also known for supporting GHS extracurricular activities, especially football. “Doc” was the ultimate Bear fan; he was in the stands every Friday night helping cheer the Bears to victory. This was a testament to his role as an educator, not simply a teacher, because it demonstrated his support for his students even outside of the classroom.
Anne-Marie Lombardo was a math teacher at Griffin High School for 30 years. She dedicated her career to making our school system successful and touched the lives of countless students.
One of Lombardo’s nominators stated, “Ms. Lombardo knew how to connect with her students and how to present the material in a way that will enable them to learn not just enough to survive but for them to thrive and enjoy math. She is a perfect example of a great educator…with the correct approach and attitude, like Ms. Lombardo’s, it’s possible to take any subject and any student and create success.”
Frank Touchstone, Jr.
Frank Touchstone, Jr., began his teaching career in 1953, the same year of consolidation, at Moore Elementary School. In 1959, Mr. Touchstone became the principal for Kelsey Elementary School. In 1969 Susie B. Atkinson Elementary School opened where Mr. Touchstone devoted 25 years as the principal and leader.
“Mr. Touchstone has been a positive role model for a long time in Griffin. Through his dedication, Mr. Touchstone has mentored many children, families, teachers, and other staff. Because of his power connection, many of his former employees still travel long distances to come visit him every year,” wrote one supporter.