Aiming for Archery Excellence : Kale Renfro

“If you believe you can, you might. If you know you can, you will.”
~Steve Mariboli
story by Katrice Williams     photos by Tonya Perry
Thirteen-year-old Kale Renfro is quite comfortable “following his own arrow,” believing that striving and aiming towards excellence will always be right on target. The young Effingham native is an 8th grader at South Effingham Middle School, and he is already an avid archer. Kale’s mom and dad, Staci and Alex Renfro, learned of their son’s interest in the sport about three years ago. Actually, Kale’s school is affiliated with the Springfield 4-H Club, which offers an archery program. Kale’s interest in archery was of little surprise, since his dad, one of his biggest mentors, “has always loved hunting.” Though Kale “never cared much for hunting,” archery was the next best thing.
“You don’t have to be a hunter to love archery,” he said.
Kale enjoys practicing with his 4-H team and at home. Whether practicing for the indoor season in Springfield at the 4-H gym or the outdoor season at Honey Ridge plantation, Kale already knows that his skill level grows with each practice. He also understands the necessity of having good equipment. He remembers his mom and dad taking him to get his very first bow.
“It was a Bear Bow…a compound bow. It looked really cool…an orange camo,” he recalled. A compound bow “uses a cable and pulley levering system to bend the limbs;” this gives the sportsman a “mechanical advantage.” Hence, it is a great choice for beginners. The limbs are “stiffer” than those on other bows, thus “improving accuracy and power” especially over longer distances, greatly due to its uniquely modernized construction and design. That can be a plus, especially since 4-H has a maximum shooting range of 50 yards. What’s more, with the rigidity of the bow, Kale “pulls approximately 45-50 pounds each time he pulls back [his] bowstring.” That can certainly be a workout, considering how often Kale uses his bow, both in practices and tournaments. He normally uses paper targets when performing with his 4-H team. Kale values his time practicing; all of his preparation definitely pays off. Outdoor tournaments are held at the 4-H camp in Eatonton, Georgia, while indoor competitions are held at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia.
As 4-H was his introduction into archery, Kale is very grateful to all of his 4-H volunteer coaches that have helped him over the years. Alongside his dad, Nicky Smith, Steven Sewell, Henry Kessler, Derrick Zipperer and Josh Mosley have all played an instrumental role in him being the talented, young archer that he is today. Their selfless dedication to the entire team has been remarkable.
Kale, too, has been participating in Scholastic 3-D Archery, S3DA, at Warrior Archery in Tattnall County under the leadership of coordinator Aric Clements. S3DA is a nationwide program and has been rapidly growing for quite a while, allowing for both indoor and outdoor archery fun. It benefits young, aspiring archers by introducing them to the “fundamentals of archery and principles of marksmanship.” Group instruction is offered by skilled coaches with various tournament opportunities on local, state and national levels. Much like the 4-H program, S3DA strives to instill such skills as discipline and self-confidence into young enthusiasts. Kale, however, found that there were notable differences in S3DA and 4-H archery, especially the target. Targets are usually 3-D and are either paper or various animal-forms that are made of durable foam; some animals include deer, hog, boar, bear, coyote and various others. Each target features rings that are scored using a scale from 0-12, with 12 being the highest. Interestingly enough, Kale’s parents bought him a 3-D animal target for practice, a pig, who he calls “Joey.” Further, Kale now uses an additional bow, a High-Country Bow, which is commonly used with 3-D targets and is effective for both beginners and advanced archers. S3DA archers use a variety of ranges, with a maximum range of 30 yards.
S3DA offers an array of great scholarships to its high school archers who qualify, some even getting a “full-ride.” Staci and Alex are certainly excited about that. Staci mentions that many college representatives are often present at the national competition. S3DA athletes may also earn monetary rewards when they win competitions. Understanding the benefit of the organization, the parents would like to have an S3DA club in the local area, since the closest one is in Tattnall. Aric Clements is currently trying to assist with those efforts.
“He is really trying to help us get one,” Staci said.
Kale has competed in several states, but normally competes in North Georgia. In fact, he won the “Georgia State Title for Middle School Fixed Pins” this past May in Maysville, Georgia. It afforded him several medals, trophies and even a uniquely elaborate state championship belt buckle. Staci remembers that it was quite a nail-biting event, as Kale and four other competitors went head-to-head in a shoot-off.
“Only three points separated 1st and 5th place,” Kale recalled.
Staci and Alex were anxiously awaiting the outcome. The two were nervous when they noticed that Kale had “zeroed in on the wrong target,” which is very easy to do with an array of various random targets lined up and down a long range; however, hitting the wrong target will land a competitor a zero. Only seconds prior to shooting, Kale quickly and nearly unnoticeably changed his aim.
The state coordinator, who was anxiously pacing back-and-forth, yelled, “Oh my gosh…I think he’s gotten a 10!” That proved to be quite a memorable event for Kale.
“I was lucky on that,” he said.
Kale then went to nationals in Metropolis, Illinois in June. Over 1,000 other young archers from all over the US competed in various categories. He was proud to place 3rd in the “Superman City Tournament.”
Kale knows that without the consistent support of some outstanding mentors in his life, he would not be where he is now. He mentions Bill Whalley and Evan Fox. He appreciates “their knowledge and skill,” along with all of their help in the sport; their diligence and dedication have been priceless.
“I look up to both of them,” he said.
Additionally, Kale is incredibly thankful for Freddie Jones, who he feels is an “all-around mentor.” He feels very privileged to have the love, support and efforts of his mom and dad, who are “persistent to assure that he follows his dreams.” In addition, Kale is extremely grateful to have some truly supportive and proud grandparents: his “NeNe” Pam White and “PaPa” David White, along with his “Nan-Nan” Shelley Renfro. He also appreciates all of his sponsors, whose support helps him to accomplish his archery goals.
Aside from archery, Kale is an honor student with various interests, including his participation in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at school. He has been an “inventive, creative, problem-solver” for quite some time. Kale enjoys basketball and plays football for his school. He has also been deemed as quite the “handy-man” with an incredible work ethic, as he often helps his NeNe and PaPa with tons of projects around the house.
“I’m very proud of him; I can really see him going places,” NeNe stated.
Kale is going places, indeed, and the target certainly looks good for this talented young man.

Keeping Our Students Safe

The Effingham County School District makes every effort to equip our students with the educational foundation necessary to succeed in today’s society.  However, we recognize that, in order for our children to learn effectively, they must feel safe in their environment.  Recurring news of tragedies on school campuses has heightened public awareness to the undeniable need for practical and effective school safety measures, and our school district is no exception.  In response to that need, we have taken proactive steps to ensure the ongoing protection of our students and employees.  After all, preparedness is key, and no child should fear going to school, just as no parent should fear sending their child to school any more than any other public place

The Effingham County Board of Education has opted for some common-sense approaches to strengthening our safety measures.  Our Board has approved the allocation of additional dollars in this year’s budget to be utilized towards measures such as increasing our number of resource officers as well as purchasing safety vestibules for our middle and high schools.  Through the existing partnership we have with the Effingham County Commissioner’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office, we have been able to secure two additional full-time resource officers for our school system.  These officers will provide relief when a school resource officer is out or called away to another duty.  We are sincerely grateful for our remarkable partnerships with local law enforcement including the Springfield, Guyton, and Rincon Police Departments as well as the Effingham County Sherriff’s Office.   The ongoing communication and cooperation we maintain with these agencies have allowed us to offer our students a level of security that would, otherwise, be unavailable to them.
The installation of safety vestibules is forthcoming for each of our middle and high schools as well as our Effingham College and Career Academy.  We deeply appreciate our local delegation for their successful efforts to secure state dollars to help fund this project.  Plans are currently underway to begin the installation of these vestibules as soon as possible, and we are confident that these will provide an extra layer of security for our students.  In fact, each of our eight elementary schools currently benefit from safety vestibules whose purchase would not have been possible without ESPLOST revenues.  Our school district would like to thank each of the members of the Effingham community who support the ESPLOST tax that makes projects like our vestibules a reality.
Moving forward, the Effingham County Board of Education has voted to designate additional ESPLOST funds to be used towards school safety for any capital improvement.  Thoughts for the future include the purchase of additional cameras as well as the update of our current locking systems.
While our school district recognizes the need for school safety expenditures, our greatest safety resources are the eyes and ears of our teachers, students, and parents.  We ask that you always be aware of your surroundings and report anything that seems odd or out of the ordinary.  Even if your suspicions are determined to be unfounded, you will have played a critical role towards protecting our children and ensuring their wellbeing.
Thank you for entrusting your children to us each year.  We do not take this responsibility lightly, and we hope to continue earning your trust as we educate and protect your children throughout each new school day.
Randy Shearouse
Superintendent of Schools

CTAE – Career Technical and Agriculture Education Getting Effingham Students on Track for the Future

Career Technical and Agriculture, Education (CTAE), (formerly known as Vocational Education) is offered in Effingham County Schools to give our youth the opportunity to be highly skilled when they are out of school and entering into the work force.
CTAE courses will get our students on the fast track to their future. Whatever their plans may be after high school, CTAE courses and career pathways will give them a head start in many technical and professional careers.
Students participating in CTAE will attend project-based classes that give them hands-on experience in their chosen field.  This will enable them to learn whether they like doing the work in their chosen path and challenge them to gain skills they can use wherever life takes them. They will learn how to take these skills and apply them to real life.
As students complete the steps in working toward their goals, they will find that they are no longer wondering what they will do after graduation. They will know what they want to do and where they are going, and they will have the education and plan to take them there.
Effingham County School’s CTAE program offers career-related educational areas – called Program Concentrations and related Pathways. The Program Concentrations and Pathways gives students insights into the possible occupations in each program.
Todd Wall is the CTAE District Coordinator. His job is to provide expertise and leadership in the operational management and support of the program to enhance student achievement at the middle and high school levels. He also has the task of developing the system CTAE instructional budget and ensure the timely and appropriate expenditure of local, state, and federal grants and funds, all while supervising and supporting all CTAE instructors and assisting in implementing curriculum and instruction across all CTAE pathways.
Sounds like a big job?  Not to Wall, who has 17 years in Career Technical Agriculture Education.  Wall came to Effingham County three years ago as the CTAE Supervisor for the 2015-16 school year for Effingham County High School. Now, he is serving his second year as CTAE District Coordinator.
Currently, there are approximately 2100 students in the high schools and 1100 middle school students in the CTAE program throughout the Effingham County School System. To be in this program, all students must complete three elective units in a coherent sequence in Career Technical and Agricultural Education, Modern Foreign Language or Fine Arts.
The Career Pathways currently being offered in our school system are Logistics, Intro to Digital Technology, Work-Based Learning, Computer Science, Automotive Service Technology, Engineering and Technology, Healthcare Science, Culinary Arts, Agriculture, Early Childhood Education, Audio/Video Technology, Business, JROTC, Public Safety and Forensic Science. In this program, students must complete three levels/classes of instruction, plus a 4th level in some areas.
When asked about new things for the new school term, Mr. Wall shares, “Project Lead the Way… we started PLTW at Effingham College and Career Academy two years ago and we are now in our third year. As of 2018-19 school year, we starting to implement PLTW in the middle and elementary schools.”
He adds, “We piloted Computer Science at ECCA last year and this year we are in full implementation.”
Project Lead the Way provides transformative learning experiences for PreK-12 students and teachers. It creates an engaging, hands-on classroom environment and empowers students to develop in-demand knowledge and skills they need to thrive. PLTW also provides teachers with the training, resources and support they need to engage students in real-world learning.
Work-Based Learning placements represent the pinnacle of the Career-Related Education experience. To qualify for a WBL placement, a student must be in grades 11 or 12 and at least 16 years old. Students must also have a defined Career Pathway in order to participate in a Work-Based Learning placement.
This is especially important for successful completion of a student’s pathway in that their job placement is directly related to the curriculum of the pathway classes they have completed or in which they are concurrently enrolled. There are several opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning. These opportunities include employability skill development, Cooperative Education, Internship, Youth Apprenticeship, and Clinical Experiences.
“We have a very strong Work-Based Learning program in Effingham County.  Our WBL coordinators, Ms. Sherry Duff at ECHS and Ms. Sherry Baggot at SEHS, do an outstanding job of placing our students each year.  This year we will have over 140 students placed in different career related jobs, internships, apprenticeships and clinical experiences throughout our area,” says Wall.  “Students are prepared and have the opportunity to enter directly into the workforce or continue their education in a post-secondary option or both.”

PTO

What Is A PTO?
 PTO stands for Parent Teacher Organization. A PTO is a group comprised of parents, teachers, and staff dedicated to improving the educational experience of all students at the Elementary School level. The goals are to encourage interaction between family and school, serve as a source of support, and work with teachers, staff, and the community at large to improve each child’s educational experience. The PTO works closely with the school administration to meet these goals.
If you look up “PTO” in the dictionary you might find words like: organize, support, help, and volunteer. The PTO organizes special events and fundraises for the schools they represent. Any parent or guardian of a current enrolled student as well as all current faculty and staff can join.
Each elementary school in Effingham County has an active Parent, Teacher Organization. Following you will find their plans for the 2018-19 school term.Blandford Elementary
Leaders: Teri Massey and Ashley Boyette
What are your goals for the 2018-19 school term?
The goal for the Blandford Elementary School PTO is to serve our teachers, staff, and administrators in any way possible in order to make this the most successful year our children can possibly have.  The core PTO team for the school coordinates the various projects throughout the year.  Our school motto is One School, One Team.
So far this year, we have several events planned.  There will be a BooHoo Breakfast for the parents of our kindergarten students, Teacher Appreciation Events, and a Daddy/Daughter dance.  We are also working to establish a Spirit Store with the help of Peachy Tees, another small local business in Springfield.  They are creating a website that will allow parents to directly order spirit wear throughout the year.  This will be in addition to the campus spirit store that will be open weekly.  The store will be staffed by our awesome parent volunteers.  We plan to create a network of local businesses that will contribute and help us throughout the year.
Our goal for the 2018-2019 school year is to raise funds to increase the ratio of available technology per student.  We are working to finalize our list of fundraising opportunities.
Ebenezer Elementary
Leader:  Kara Gelderman
The mission of Ebenezer Elementary School PTSO is to work in cooperation with our parents and teachers to reach our common goal of providing the best educational experience for our students. We support the students and school both monetarily, as well as through volunteering, while providing opportunities for our families to connect.
A few of the events that are planned for the 2018-2019 school term are Family Painting Night, Supper with Santa, Bingo for Books and the Boosterthon Program.
In the fall, Ebenezer Elementary PTSO will be offering a catalog sale which includes a variety of items for purchase. For the spring, we will partner again with the Boosterthon Program. Both of these types of fundraisers have been very successful for us in the past and we look forward to applying those funds directly to areas of the school where improvements are needed.
The Ebenezer Elementary School PTSO has a three-part goal for the upcoming school year:
1. We place great emphasis on hosting a variety of family centered events and activities to help foster connections between
our families and the school. This also provides an excellent opportunity to get involved through volunteering.
2. Through our annual fundraisers, we support the financial needs of our school which are not met by other sources of
funding.
3. Family connections and support of our fundraisers help make our third goal of providing educational enrichment a
reality.
Meeting our technology demands is something we have focused on for several years and will continue to be one of our primary objectives for the coming year.
Guyton Elementary
Leader: Heather Thompson
The mission of the Guyton Elementary School PTO is to raise funds for things that will help our children’s education. We enjoy working with parents, teachers and students to make our fundraising something that will benefit everyone.
The biggest event we have planned for this school year is our Fall Festival. Our school will be turned into a place of fun for all ages. The most popular at this event is the Haunted Hallway. Our amazing 4th and 5th grade teachers and staff make the entire hallway scary. In the past we have had obstacle courses, trick-or-treating, cake walks and hay rides, along with several other games and food. We also open The Santa Shop for a week in December. This gives students and families a chance to shop for the people they care about. It is so exciting to be a part of this event and watch how happy the kids are for the opportunity to shop. We also do a birthday celebration where we give each student a cupcake and drink during the month of his or her birthday.
We are excited about the fundraisers we have planned for the 2018-2019 school year. We like to call them “Fun”raisers because we    like to plan things that get the students and their families involved by making them fun activities. We have Bingo Nights planned, Santa Night, lollipop sale for Valentine’s Day, and we are hoping to team up with a Fun Run at the end of the year. There is a monthly fundraiser, Fun Friday, where we sell the students a snack and a drink for $1.00. This happens the last Friday of every month.
One of the goals of the PTO for this school year is to purchase a covered area that will give our students a place to sit in the shade during their recess time. Most of the school year is very hot and we feel that this will be a great way to spend the funds that are raised throughout the year.Rincon Elementary
Leaders: Tiffany Altman, Courtney Barnwell
The mission for the Rincon Elementary School PTO is to create a strong community that serves our students, families, teachers and staff. We promote communication between administration, faculty, parents and the community to enrich our children’s’ education.
We have a couple of events planned for the 2018-2019 school year. We are going to have a grand opening ceremony for the new school this fall, and in December, we are planning a Christmas Family Fun Night.
Our fundraisers kick off this fall when the students will be selling chocolate. We are also planning a Boosterthon Fun Run in January. The students approach parents, grandparents and friends for pledges for the laps that they will run or walk. The Boosterthon actually lasts for two weeks and is not limited to the Fun Run. During this time we also hold character building workshops and pep rallies for the students.
During the 2017-2018 school year, we launched a 3 year campaign to raise at least $100,000 for new school expenses. We were able to raise $30,000 that will go directly toward the new school expenses. Our goal for this school term is to continue and increase the pace that was set so that we can reach our financial goal.
Sandhill Elementary
Leader: Angela Wise
The mission of the Sandhill Elementary School PTA is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.
Some of the events planned for the 2018-2019 school year are a Boo Hoo Breakfast, Spooky Supper, Santa Shop, and Family Fun Nights.
We are planning on a fall fundraiser with the help of Otis Spunkmeyer and a chocolate fundraiser in the spring.
Our goal for the upcoming school year is to bring the families of Sand Hill Elementary School together to support and help our students grow in an enriching environment.

A GIFT THAT WILL KEEP ON GIVING : JOSH REDDICK STADIUM

Some dreams do come true.  And, Effingham County is benefitting from a dream of one certain man, Josh Reddick. Josh is a former SEHS standout and now a member of the Houston Astro’s World Series Championship team.
The Josh Reddick Stadium recently opened at the Clarence E. Morgan Recreational Complex, a dream Josh has had since he was in junior high school.
The Josh Reddick Stadium has a unique field, unlike any other in the county, or in the state for that matter. This field is entirely wheelchair accessible.  The stadium has an all turf field and is accessible to all children, including those with special needs. The stadium is also fully decked out with a 10-foot by 36-foot scoreboard, covered seating with fans to cool off on those hot days and a brick dugout.
“This is a dream that I have been wanting to come true, and now that it is here, it is definitely heartwarming,” Josh says. “I think the biggest moment of it was seeing the teams that played on it.  We have a group called the Effingham Navigators, a group we sponsor for, and we couldn’t think of anyone else who should be able to play the first game there,” he adds.
The Effingham County Navigator Team, made of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their siblings, played the inaugural game, and the entire team wore Reddick’s number 22.
By “we,” Josh is referring to himself and the Josh Reddick Foundation Board of Directors.   Since its inception in 2014, The Josh Reddick Foundation has been on a mission to advocate for the youth of Effingham County with a focus on supporting students, preserving recreational parks, and helping those in need.
The Josh Reddick Foundation puts on charitable events annually to raise money for county needs and provides money for four college scholarships (two boys and two girls) at South Effingham and Effingham County high schools.
Josh was nearly 2,500 miles from home in Anaheim for a game during the stadium opening, Foundation President Trey Saxon says seeing Reddick’s dream become a reality is surreal.
“When you make it celebrity status if you want to call it – it’s weird for me to say that – you kind of get to pick what you leave behind or what you want your legacy to be, “For Josh to pick a baseball field, that’s pretty cool, “Trey expresses.
Saxon said the stadium’s longevity will likely outlive them and be a place their children and grandchildren can play.
Clarence Morgan, Effingham County Recreation Director and the namesake of the Clarence E. Morgan Recreational Complex feels the same way and said he’s grateful Reddick hasn’t lost sight of his roots.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I was watching the Astros Network about 18 months ago, and they were talking about one of the ballplayers who had done something for the community. I told my wife, ‘Josh is going to do that for us one day,’ and within two months, I got a call from Trey. In a little more than a year, we had it built.”
Clarence, who has known Josh since he was a youngster playing ball within the recreation department, continues to be amazed by the generosity of Effingham’s favorite son.  “It’s a field of dreams come true,” he says.
The Josh Reddick Stadium, which resembles the new, state-of-the-art minor-league stadiums, only continues Josh’s  local legacy. Those close to the project couldn’t have been more excited to unveil the stadium to the public. “That’s probably one of the coolest things to see, a vision become a reality, that’s even cool in itself but for something to come out way more exceptional than you already expected … that’s even cooler to be able to come out and be a part of something like that,” said Trey.
“It’s hard to describe this facility,” Clarence said. “I call the stadium the Lamborghini and the rest of the complex, the Cadillac. This is an amazing facility. Our grand opening is just what we had hoped for… a family affair. We had a great turnout.”
There is no doubt this stadium will be used by hundreds of thousands of kids over the next several decades.  This million dollar stadium given to the county by Josh and his Foundation, is a gift that one could never put a price tag on. The joy of the children’s faces seen by the many crowds visiting this Josh Reddick Stadium is priceless.
Josh Reddick Stadium is definitely a Grand Slam for Effingham County.

JOSH REDDICK FOUNDATION
Mission:
Our mission is to be an advocate for the youth and those in need in our community.
About JRF:
Since its inception in 2014, The Josh Reddick Foundation has been on a mission to advocate for the youth of Effingham County with a focus on supporting students, preserving recreational parks, and helping those in need.
The foundation hosts all charitable events in Effingham County and the money raised is given back to the community. Portions of all money raised go toward the recreation departments as well as the sheriff’s office, fire departments, animal shelters, the Manna House, the Treutlan House and more.
The foundation gives money back to the Board of Education by being a platinum level sponsor to both Effingham County High and South Effingham High. They also gave money to each elementary school this year and have plans to give to each middle school in the Effingham School District.
Athletics are not the only focus of the Foundation. Each year the organization awards four graduating seniors, one male and one female from each high school, a $1000 college scholarship for academic excellence. The foundation also awards a male and female high school “Athlete of the Month” every month.
On top of donations and fundraising events, Josh himself comes home during the offseason and gives back with his time. Some of the many things you can find Josh doing is reading to the elementary schools, doing speaking engagements around the county, and visiting sick children in the hospital to lift their spirits.
Board Members:
Trey Saxon, President
Donna Sheppard, Secretary
Jan Landing, Treasurer
Brian Coulter, Financial
Dino Oliver, Production Manager
Julie Hales, Marketing Director

Georgia Forestry Mulching

Georgia Forestry Mulching is a Land Management Company owned and operated by Effingham County resident, Alice Hurst. The company was formed in 2016 but the learning and research of clearing land via the mulching process was started well before then. Alice and her husband Clint’s love for the outdoors and finding a way to provide people with an affordable way to enjoy their land is what prompted them to start researching the land clearing process of mulching in 2014.  Both Clint and Alice are land owners and natives of Effingham County and have one son, Carson.

Mulching is done by using a high powered machine equipped with rotational drum style cutters to grind vegetation into mulch without the need for additional machinery.  In other words, the machine drives around and eats trees and underbrush, selectively reducing unwanted vegetation and woody debris into a bed of nutritive, soil stabilizing mulch.  This process is not right for all land clearing needs but can meet the needs of small residential tracts of land from small lots .25 acres in size up to large tracts of land 100+ acres and everything in between.  We can transform underbrush, stumps and trees up to 8” in diameter into mulch with mobile machinery in a single step while strategically avoiding keeper trees and erosion problems.  We can also create trail systems to get around on large tracts or hunting land and help owners trying to sale land by cutting paths to provide potential buyers a way to see what the land has to offer without spending a fortune to have someone bring several pieces of equipment in to clear.
I enjoy seeing the aftermath of the mulching job and seeing the owners face when they see my operator make the first pass! It’s a fascinating machine and does an amazing job.  It’s more than just about the machine though.  I can run the Skid Steer myself with the bucket and grapple and love to get in it with Carson and piddle but the forestry cutter head is a whole different ballgame.  It’s no game!  It takes someone that knows how to work the cutter head to mulch down the trees and not just “knock” them down per say.  It’s definitely a gift and a skill that my operator, Jamie Aldrich has!  Jamie is a native of Brooklet and grew up operating a variety of equipment on his family farm.  He now works with me and he enjoys the work and meeting the people just as much as we do.
It’s a true blessing and joy to be able to meet different people and provide them with an affordable service to help them reclaim their overgrown property or just to help them clean up property to sale, farm or hunt.  We’ve cleared food plots, land for owners to sale, pine tree farms, residential lots for homeowners and contractors, commercial property for surveying and several other scenarios.  There is nothing like seeing the excitement of people when Jamie gets done!  He has people trying to tip him all the time and he doesn’t understand why!  I can tell you why…it’s hard to find people to do what they say they are going to do and together that is just what we do!

New Horizons : Paige Dickey and Rincon Elementary School

story by Katrice Williams     photos by Tonya Perry
Rincon Elementary School has a whole new look. Well, it actually has a little more than just a new look. It is an entirely new school all together.  In fact, it stands as the largest elementary school in the county, being built to accommodate 1,200 students; however, it will start with about 975. This new school’s doors opened bright and early on Thursday, August 2nd. Paige Dickey, a Savannah native, has been the school’s principal for over 13 years. She is excited about the new school and even more excited to see how her students respond.

Paige lives in the local area, along with her husband Travis and their three children: Walker, Conner and Brittany. Travis is originally from Effingham. Paige has been an educator for over 28 years. She began her career as a special education (SPED) teacher in 1991 at the Coastal Georgia Academy in Savannah. After investing five years there, she moved to Effingham County High School (ECHS), where she continued teaching SPED for two years. Afterward, she was the South Effingham High School (SEHS) assistant principal for a couple of years, before becoming a special education program manager for the Fayette County Board of Education. She also had a four-year tenure as the assistant principal of Effingham County High School (ECHS) prior to her position at Rincon Elementary. Interestingly enough, this will be the first time that Paige has been privileged to be in a brand-new building.
The entire building processes began about two years ago; the faculty and staff actually started their packing initiatives after student testing was completed last spring. Paige is grateful for all the help of the young ladies and young men of the SEHS and ECHS Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). Both groups worked extra hard to assure that the move was smooth and successful. SEHS helped with the move out of the old building, while ECHS assisted with the move into the new one.
“Those were some amazing kids. It was wonderful; it was well orchestrated,” Paige said. She adds, “our maintenance department has been amazing with our move and helping us settle in.”
She remembers some of the things that everyone did at the old school to make the moving process fun, including having pretend day-outs: “cookouts, beach days and campouts.”
“There were definitely a lot of memories made with that move. One teacher even bought a family-sized tent, and they all had reading time together in the tent. It was awesome; it was fun,” Paige added.
Paige is anxious to see everything unfold. She, too, is excited about a few new things in particular.
“My favorite part is the ‘reading tree,’” she mentioned. Having a Winnie the Pooh theme, an entire portion of the library has a model of a big tree within a forest that can be entered and exited. Designed to cater, more so, to younger students, the entire cozy setting is sure to make story time fun and help foster a love for reading. Paige plans to “have story time on Fridays with her pre-k students.”
“I like to get to know our kids when they’re little, because many of our children stay with us the whole time. It’s nice to see them from four years old through ten, building relationships as they grow,” she said.
Additionally, Paige is looking forward to promoting even more overall literacy this academic year, which will coincide with the county literacy initiative. She and her faculty and staff are also dedicated to helping students further their knowledge in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math with their new STEM labs.
She is committed to diligently working to assure that the wonderful qualities that have long been prevalent within the school do not change just because the physical make-up has.
“Our kids are going to be in this beautiful new school…this new environment. Everything changes, but you have to keep your core values. We’re going to bring our traditions and our heart for children here. We’re going to ensure that the heart of our school does not change, and I don’t think it will,” Paige remarked.
Much of the atmosphere of any school is a direct result of the strength and the heart of its leadership. Paige takes pride in having a mother’s heart and wants that to be obvious to every student and parent.
“I’m a mom first. When I hire, I hire as a mom first, and then a principal. My first goal is to take care of them. If you don’t love kids, you can’t teach them. The relationship piece is the most important to me. I value the relationships,” she said.
Speaking of values, Paige believes that all students deserve a quality education and great academic opportunities. That said, Rincon Elementary has been a “Title I Highest Performing Reward School for about 14 years.” Title I status allows for federal financial assistance, namely grants, to be allocated if “children from low-income families make up at least 40% of enrollment; Title I funds may be used for schoolwide programs that serve all children in the school.” These programs are created to help all students meet “state academic standards,” especially those most academically challenged.
“Anybody can be brilliant, and anybody can do their best; it doesn’t matter their income level,” Paige stated.
“Title I has provided a lot of advantages. It has provided our parent liaison, Reneé Rollins, who is wonderful; federal title money pays for that,” Paige said. Reneé spearheads various academic and social programs, including the Christmas Wish List, designed to aid less fortunate families during the Christmas season.
“Parents love her,” Paige added. She is grateful to have a great parent-teacher organization, PTO, to help with overall efforts.
“They’re wonderful. They help immensely…always here, always helping,” she commented. It certainly takes a village in student success, and Paige, along with her team of educators, does not take that for granted.
“For the past 14 years, we’re always ranked in the top 5% of title schools in the state. Our kids do really well. Their parents work hard; the teachers work hard; the kids work hard,” Paige said.
Paige highly regards her entire school faculty and staff and is proud to work with such noteworthy individuals who share in her sincere love for the kids.
“We don’t have a lot of turnover; we have very steady teachers. I think our biggest advantage is that we hire people that love children. It’s a very welcoming and nurturing environment. Everybody works together; everybody has the best interest of the kids at heart, and that’s what matters. It’s about the kids,” Paige stated.
She mentions some of those individuals that she works closely with to ensure student success–her assistant principals. Kirbi Ratner, a former 2nd grade teacher and 5th grade math, science and social studies teacher, is the “instructional supervisor over curriculum, instruction and testing.”
“She was phenomenal in the classroom, and she is phenomenal as the instructional supervisor,” Paige declared. Tracy Kieffer, once a student at Rincon Elementary, became a teacher for the school and is now an administrator. Paige knows that she adds tremendous value to the team. Paige feels privileged to have Melissa Long, who recently transferred from Marlow Elementary School. All-in-all, everyone is certainly dedicated to student success.
As Paige looks out the window of her new office, she is very pleased with what she sees. She is confident that the future of Rincon Elementary School will be as bright as the skies above.

Georgia’s 2018 High School Assistant Principal of the Year : TAMMY JACOBS

story by Kathryn Vandenhouten
photos by Shelia Scott
The Georgia Association for Secondary School Principals has named South Effingham High School’s Tammy Jacobs as the Assistant Principal of the Year for 2018. She is both honored and humbled at the distinction, and she is excited for another new school year as a Mustang.
     This is her seventeenth year with SEHS, and she has come a long way. She got her start as a math teacher, and she taught for five and a half years before accepting the assistant principal and testing coordinator position. This will be her sixth year as the instructional supervisor and assistant principal.
Jacobs has always had a heart for leadership. When she was younger, she may have been labeled as “bossy,” but even as a child, she always gravitated toward leadership roles. “I like to think outside the box. I like to think of new ideas. I like to be as innovative as possible,” she says. “I knew that with those qualities, I’d be a good leader, but I didn’t expect to get out of the classroom so soon.”
Though she had only been teaching for five years, she was ready to jump in and take the reins in administration. “I thought that I’d be in the classroom about ten years, but the opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t say no,” explains Jacobs.
SEHS Principal, Dr. Mark Winters, saw potential in Jacobs early in her career, and she has met and exceeded his expectations as an administrator. “It’s more than just her dedication to the job,” says Winters. “She is very creative. She’s always looking for ways of improving not just what comes in her realm of responsibility, but whatever is good for the school.”
Winters has known Jacobs ever since she was a student in his ninth grade English class at ECHS. “She’s just a very extraordinary person, and you say these things about educators being compassionate and caring, which is so true, but hers is just so much above and beyond, and she gets the big picture,” says Winters. “I’ve worked with so many different administrators over the years, and she is just someone who really has that panoramic view of the school,” he adds.
In fact, Winters felt she was so deserving of the title, he filled out her Assistant Principal of the Year application himself. Not only was Jacobs in shock to be a finalist, but she was surprised that she was entered in the first place.
When she got the call from GASSP, she was quite confused at first. She didn’t know why they were contacting her about an application she had never filled out. She had no idea that Dr. Winters had filled out the application for her.
“He asked me one day at the very beginning of the school year a question about something I had done back in the day, but I had no idea he was questioning me because he was doing the application for me for GASSP,” she recalls. “So it was a surprise, and I’m very humbled that he took the time with his busy schedule to do that.”
And as surprised as she was to be in the running, she was even more shocked when she won. “I was surprised to say the least,” says Jacobs. “I did not think I’d go as far as I did.” The interviews for the finalists were especially nerve-racking, but she kept her composure, and it worked in her favor.
Jacobs is proud to be a Mustang, and for good reason.  SEHS is not just the school where she works; it is her alma mater, and she takes her school pride seriously. She was a member of the first graduating class of SEHS, and she feels just as excited to be a Mustang now as she did when the school was brand new. “I wanted to be a part of the first graduating class because we were starting something and it was so exciting,” she recalls.
Her excitement and school pride have only grown. The Mustang motto has changed since she graduated.  From “A New Tradition of Excellence” to “The Legend Lives,” the school slogan has evolved with the school itself. What started out as a “New Tradition of Excellence” has now grown into an exceptional school program in which students are given the tools and opportunities to succeed.
“I want to make sure that we can leave a legacy and that the kids that leave here are going to go make their mark on the world,” says Jacobs. “They’re going to be a better person for being at this school, so I have a lot of school pride. I’m very proud to be a Mustang.”
Since Jacobs became assistant principal, she has implemented various programs to facilitate positive change for both faculty and students. Instructional focus, Mustang Mentors, after school tutorials, AP crash courses and dropout prevention are some of the programs that are particularly important to her.
Though the dropout rate at SEHS is low, Jacobs wants to see all of her students graduate and is impacted whenever that doesn’t happen. “Can I tell you the most difficult part, and I will lose sleep over this at night, are those kids that we feel like we can’t get to,” she says.
She has overcome many obstacles along the way, but she says she has grown from every challenge. From the challenges of being a young administrator to balancing work, continuing her education, and raising a family, Jacobs says she could not have accomplished it without the support of those around her.
Her faith, family, friends and coworkers have made all the difference. “I have a huge support system,” she says. “I think it’s the love and support of people around you. Knowing that I have a principal that supports me one hundred percent and allows me to be innovative and allows me to do things makes it worthwhile.”
When she is not at the school, she spends as much time as she can with her husband, Bryan, and their three-year-old twins, Isaac and Asher. Playing with them and watching them grow have become her  favorite hobby.
She is currently an Educational Specialist, and she plans to start working on her doctorate next year. Her ultimate goal is to become a principal. “I feel like I still have a lot to bring to the table, and I’d love the opportunity to be a principal,” she says.
As much as she loves her role in administration, the one thing she misses the most is the close relationship she had with her students when she was in the classroom. With over 1,600 students at SEHS, she doesn’t know each student quite as well, but she still refers to them all as “my kids,” and their success is important to her.
When asked the best advice she could give them to succeed, she refers to a poster that was in her classroom. It read: “Let the choices I make today be the consequences I can live with tomorrow.” It is a slogan that sticks with her to this day.  “Make good choices and learn from the bad choices made,” says Jacobs. “That’s how you grow.”
Jacobs has certainly grown as an educator as well as an administrator. From student, to teacher, to assistant principal, she has truly come full circle at SEHS. And she plans to keep going as far as her ambition and her talents will take her.
As another school year begins, she is excited to continue her job of supporting the faculty and students at SEHS. Winning 2018 Assistant Principal of the Year has been an honor for Tammy Jacobs, but working at the school she loves is the true honor.

Premier Bowl & Bistro “Pooler’s Ultimate Entertainment Destination”

story by Katrice Williams     photos by Tonya Perry
Pooler has an all new and exciting entertainment venue. In fact, there is nowhere like it in the surrounding area. Premier Bowl & Bistro, located next to their sister property, Frames n’ Games, recently opened its doors to the public. As it is a family-owned business, Christopher, “Chris,” Smith, the sales and marketing manager, feels that the “personal touch makes a difference,” and he is enthusiastic about what is to come.
“Once people know we’re here, it’s really going to take off. I’m excited,” he said.
Understanding that Frames n’ Games often “caters to kids,” Premier was designed with adults in mind. It gives adults the option to be in a more mature environment, especially since there is a 21- year-old admittance requirement after 6 p.m. each day.
“We want to create an entertainment destination for adults…the ultimate adult entertainment destination. We still welcome kids before 6 p.m. But, of course, we do have the curfew after 6 p.m. Anyone can come in; we don’t discourage anyone,” Chris stated.
Chris and the entire team want customers to feel welcome and to have an incomparable experience when they come in. He believes that this is only accomplished through superior customer service.
“Of course, we do want top-of-the-line customer service. With anywhere you go, if you don’t have good customer service, you shouldn’t even open your doors,” he said.
The Bowl and More
Premier features a 14-lane bowling alley, but not just any bowling alley. It was created to provide more of an upscale vibe. The couches have a luxurious feel with built-in device outlets. There is a touch screen on every lane, where customers may conveniently place their orders. More so, there is “cosmic bowling” after 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, where regular lights dim and black lights come out, “along with lasers, disco lights and strobe lights.” The place is filled with music coming from a “state of the art sound system.”
Customers can relax and enjoy some games of pool as they take a load off in the laid-back atmosphere. If games are more desired, they can visit the arcade, which already includes a variety of fun and engaging games; however, there are even more to come.
The Bistro
The staff welcomes visitors to come with a big appetite. The menu is filled with an assortment of delicious dishes. Pizzas, made your way, include: Hawaiian, Greek, Meat Lovers and Buffalo, all made with a variety of taste buds in mind; “fresh pizza dough is made daily.”
“We have a brand-new brick pizza oven back there,” Chris said. “It’s awesome!”
Flavorful wings can be tossed in a variety of sauces, whether parmesan, lemon pepper, barbeque, teriyaki, buffalo or hot; the pecan smoked wings are certainly palate pleasers.
Most cannot resist the delectable, all beef Angus Burgers made of a “short rib and brisket blend,” including: the Portobello Mushroom Burger, a grilled burger covered with grilled Portobello Mushrooms; the “Mac,” topped with bacon and mac -n- cheese; the Jalapeno Bacon Burger, covered with fresh jalapenos and crispy bacon, or even the “Beyond Burger,” an “all-natural, soy-based protein burger.”
For customers who don’t quite want a big burger, the sandwiches, made of “antibiotic and hormone-free” meat, are the next best thing; enjoy the Philly Cheese made from shaved ribeye or the seasoned and grilled chicken sandwich. Further, the variety of creamy pastas (shrimp, chicken, veggie and salmon) are tongue-teasers.
There are various other menu items to choose from, including: naan tacos, fish and chips, sliders, quesadillas, chicken fingers, nachos, giant pretzels, hot dogs and fries/tots and curds. Customers who want to walk on the lighter side can enjoy fresh mixed salads. For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, both a creamy key lime pie and a decadent two-layer chocolate cake are great desert options. Moreover, the space is equipped with a “beautiful, large, granite-top” full bar for customers.
The staff at Premier wants to provide their customers with an “atmosphere centered around comfort and fun…a well-rounded environment, letting them escape the worries of the day.” That is why they feel customers should come in and see for themselves.
“Once you come and start having fun, you’re going to fall in love with it,” Chris commented. He explained that there were “regulars” after only the first week of business.
A banquet hall is also available to rent for private or corporate events. Large groups are welcomed. The team wants to strive to accommodate customers as much as possible, even by customizing offers to best satisfy their interests and needs.
Besides further developing several areas within the new business, the management team has various other goals in mind for the near future to provide customers’ overall entertainment pleasure, including the possibility of showcasing various bands for their enjoyment.
The team understands that people should always be one of the biggest focal points of any business.  That said, they recognize the value of community involvement. Chris believes that participating in value-driven and noteworthy fundraising activities within the community is a big part of having a successful business.
“If you’re not involved within the community, people really don’t appreciate the value of your business,” he said.
Premier Bowl & Bistro is driven to provide a mature, all-in-one “entertainment destination” for adults, while consistently offering all customers a unique entertainment getaway.