December 2017


As 2017 draws to a close, we would like to thank you for your contributions to our schools. Everyone in our community plays a part in our success. We wish you and yours a happy and healthy new year.
Reconfiguration Update
Currently, Tift County students will attend six schools if they attend Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our new plan for how our schools will be arranged will cut that number to three. All current primary and elementary schools will become Kindergarten through fifth grade schools, Eighth Street Middle School and Northeast Campus will house sixth – eighth grades and Tift County High School will become a true high school for ninth – twelfth graders.

Our school reconfiguration will be in place for the next school year which begins Aug. 13, 2018. We have approximately seven months until the transition, and here’s where we are in the process:
  • Teachers have been notified of their assigned schools. School administrators are now making plans at their individual schools for classroom/duty assignments.
  • Athletic realignment plans are now in the works. With two middle schools (grades 6-8) and ninth grade being at TCHS, athletic teams will need to be reconfigured.
  • ESMS and Northeast athletic facilities are being assessed to make sure they are equal to one another and equipped to handle middle school teams.
  • Construction at TCHS continues. Work is underway on the new auxiliary gym (pictured above).
A Day at the Movies
Students at Charles Spencer Elementary School enjoyed a very special field trip right before the Christmas break. They headed to the theater to see the movie "Wonder". Everyone in the school had read the book, and themes from the book were discussed in class and used for activities.

"Wonder" tells the inspiring story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, had prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates and the community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey unites them all and proves you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Students learned kindness is always the best choice.
A Day of Giving Back
Our students are THE BEST! Nearly 200 ESMS students collected more than $3,000 to give 42 of our primary students a fantastic Christmas. The primary students got to choose a gift for themselves, but then the rest of their money had to be spent on gifts for their entire family. Faculty and staff at ESMS created this wonderful opportunity to teach their students the importance of giving back. After they took over Wal-Mart for their shopping trip, the students all returned to ESMS for a wrapping party. Thanks to everyone who made this day (and a happy Christmas morning) possible!

Ask Superintendent Patrick Atwater
What is one of the biggest challenges facing Tift County Schools today?

"Other than the effects of poverty, mental health is by far the biggest issue we face right now. So many of our children are trying to cope with problems without access to proper, professional treatment. We already have more than 120 students on a suicide contract, and we are only half-way through the school year. To be on a suicide contract, a child has demonstrated a serious intent to harm themselves.

Some students also feel the effects of their parents suffering with mental illness without receiving adequate treatment.

Our school social workers and counselors work tirelessly to help as much as they can, but they are simply overwhelmed with the needs. We are working to find a way to hire more staff to assist our students. This is an issue we are going to need to address as a community."

What do you want to ask the superintendent? Send your questions to
Back in the Day
Pictured is G.O. Bailey, the namesake of one of our primary schools. In 1928, he was graduating from the University of Georgia with a Master’s Degree in Education, when he received a nickel telegram from Briggs Carson who was chairman of the Tift County Board of Education. Carson asked Bailey to come to Tift County to become the high school principal. Bailey agreed, and he and his wife Hazel Humber Bailey moved to Tifton. For $65 per month, he became not only the principal, but also a classroom teacher and athletic coach for four sports. He went on to become superintendent in the county for 30 years. He then served as the Curriculum Director before moving on to Norman Park College as Dean. His wife was a teacher, and then principal, at Annie Belle Clark School which was located on Park Avenue. After the school building was torn down, she continued teaching at Northside. 
If you have any historical photos or memorabilia you would be willing to share with us, please email us at
Christmas Spectacular
The choral program put on an outstanding performance during its recent Christmas Spectacular. The shows featured chorus students in grades 7-12 with special performances by One Voice, Ninth Harmony, Ladies' Choice, Eighth Street Singing Company and the TCHS Blue Devil Players.
Outside the Classroom
The TCHS Boys Basketball Team spent part of their break shopping for a child they "adopted" for Christmas. Great job, guys!
Meet the Board Member
Jonathan Jones became Chairman of the Board in January of this year. The TCHS alum has lived Tifton for 39 years with the only years away being spent in college and graduate school (Auburn University and Rice University). When he finished school, he joined the family business, Jones Construction Company and Double A Concrete Products.

He is married to Betsy, who has taught in Tift County for 22 years with most of those years as the music teacher at Annie Belle Clark. They have 15-year-old triplets, Will, Becca and Hays.

Jones was motivated to become a member of the Board by a willingness to serve in a capacity that can impact the future of our community.
“Our school system touches nearly every family within our community. We have a great public school system, and I am a big cheerleader for it,” he said. “The future of our community is dependent upon how well we develop and invest in the kids we are blessed to serve to help them reach their maximum potential. Shared goals with the community are to provide a skilled and motivated workforce that is equipped with the technological skills and ambition to lead and serve others. In addition, I hope to do all that I can do within my sphere of influence to provide the culture and environment that pursues excellence.”
Standout Students
While Principal Jim Torell didn’t appreciate getting a surprise pie in the face during a recent pep rally at J.T. Reddick, he said it couldn’t have come from a better girl. Sixth Grader Lindsey Kreschollek is one of Mr. Torell’s standouts in the Class of 2024.

“I love that girl,” said Torell. “She is super busy with tons of extracurricular stuff from swimming to dance to chorus, but her grades are some of the best in the school. Heck, that’s why she got to hit me with that pie!”

Kreschollek won a content-related trivia contest at the pep rally and was supposed to hit Assistant Principal Jennifer Howell with a pie as her prize. Instead, Ms. Howell and Lindsey conspired to hit Mr. Torell.

There are four accelerated math classes in sixth grade. They serve as the foundation for students who will go on to take some of the county’s most difficult classes. Not only did Lindsey not shy away from that challenge, she has the top average on her team. She was also a soloist in Stan Smith’s chorus concert recently. But if you wanted to congratulate her, you needed to act fast. Lindsey ran out the door from the Christmas Concert and into a waiting car to whisk her to her dance practice. Such is the life of a stand out student!
Board Meeting Highlights
December’s regular board meeting was a relatively short one.

  • Director of Operations Robby Dasher gave an update regarding on the Tift County High School construction project. He estimated that the TCHS renovations and modifications could possibly be completed before the April 2018 projected completion date, with the exception of the auxiliary gym.  

  • CTAE Director Craig Matthews discussed with the Board new selection of materials to be used in the Pharmacy Operations and Fundamentals/Pharmacy pathway at TCHS.
They said WHAT?
"Out of the mouths of babes" is an iconic saying for a good reason. Children generally have no filter, so what they think usually comes out, and it's usually the truth. And much of what they say is hilarious. Educators get a front-row seat for this on a daily basis. Here's where we will feature some of those situations.

"We were having a discussion in Social Studies about the responsibilities of being an adult. I asked the question. 'What makes you an adult?' One student responded so quickly and seriously, 'Drinking milk!' How do you argue with that logic?"

If you have a cute story, please share it with us at
It Takes a Village
Operating a school system of nearly 8,000 students takes a lot of work, and we couldn't do it without the amazing contributions of our community. This month, we want to thank Zaxby's. They are incredibly generous as a Partner in Education, donating money to our schools, rewarding students with free meals for their hard work and feeding many of our athletic teams. We appreciate all that you do!
Tift County Schools
207 N. Ridge Avenue
Tifton, Georgia 31794  
(229) 387-2400