When it came to the safety of McDuffie County school children, just getting by wasn't enough. The local school system -- and especially Assistant Superintendent Jim Franklin -- recently was recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty.
A state representative from Georgia Emergency Management Agency attended the January meeting of the McDuffie County Board of Education and presented certificates to Superintendent Jim LeBrun and the principal of all eight schools for completing safe school plans.
"By law, school are required to follow certain rules and procedures to ensure safety, but McDuffie County schools go a step above the requirements," said Anna Lumpkin, the GEMA school safety coordinator. "Other school systems ask me what can they do to get by, but that's not enough for Dr. Franklin. He asks for 'any and all recommendations that you have,' and then he implements all of them."
Ms. Lumpkin had been present during the meeting, when Mr. LeBrun earlier had noted the system received appreciation or awards for a school chorus performance (from Augusta Technical College), for high percentage of breakfast and lunch participation (from the Georgia Department of Education) and for achievements of students with disabilities (from the Georgia DOE).
"Y'all go well beyond AYP and academics. Your system is concerned about everything," Ms. Lumpkin said. "It's good to see you are a well-rounded school system."
McDuffie County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner, who also serves as the county's EMA director, also was at the school board meeting. Chief Tanner explained that school safety programs began immediately after the Columbine tragedy.
"McDuffie County was one of the first in the state to have a safety program due to Dr. Franklin," Chief Tanner said. "I'm proud to say I'm from the same county as this school system. It's said that those of us in public safety are hometown heroes, and I appreciate that. But my heroes are those in education. Without y'all, we have no future."
Ms. Lumpkin presented certificates to Mr. LeBrun, Chief Tanner, Maxwell Elementary Principal Donna Bennett, Thomson Elementary Principal Anita Cummings, Norris Elementary Principal Nancy Lovelady, Dearing Elementary Principal Laura Hughes, Thomson Middle Principal Claude Powell, Thomson-McDuffie Junior High Principal Steve Rhodes, Thomson High School Principal Rudy Falana and McDuffie Achievement Center Principal Cecil Strong.