By Nancy Schriner | Pictures by Kerry Mills Photography DEC 2012
Travel down I-75, south of Macon about 15 miles and you will see the Big Peach towering above the Big Peach Antiques building. Just a bit further and you will find the tranquil little town of Byron. Named for the poet Lord Byron, of “She Walks in Beauty” fame, the City of Byron is a Better Hometown Community located almost at the exact geographical center of Georgia.
Tucked away in a quiet pastoral area is Byron Elementary School, a school of only 600 students. Although small, BES is big on commitment; its vision of “Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow” is the guiding principle each day in its classrooms.
Dannelly Martin, principal since 2006, says, “I truly believe that in order to be an effective principal, the principal must be a leader by example and very visional.” This mision extends to the faculty as well. As with all schools, the better the faculty, the better the school, and Byron Elementary is no different. The success the students experience is directly related to the dedicated work of the faculty and staff. “The teachers and staff are awesome and make such a great difference in the children’s lives,” says Principal Martin.
Housing kindergarten through fifth grades today, Byron Elementary started out serving grades one through eight. Originally housed next door to the Byron Municipal Building in the old school complex, a new school was planned in 1980 and was constructed in several stages. Over the years, the additions that were made to the school accommodated a growing student population. Later divided into Byron Elementary and Byron Middle Schools, the school remained this way until a new Byron Middle School was constructed. At that time, grades six–eight were moved to the new building.
Today, Byron Elementary is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and the State Department of Education’s Professional Standards Commission. A member of the Southern Regional Education Board, the curriculum is based on the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. “Study Island,” technology that is specifically designed to help students master the content outlined in the Georgia Performance Standards and Common Core State Standards, supports the learning process with interactive web-based lessons and activities in order to prepare for the CRCT. Third grade scores on the CRCT are competitive with the state averages in every subject, and exceeds state scores in several.
In addition to academic classes, students at Byron Elementary can participate in 4-H club, Safety Patrol, Chorus, Dance Team, Community football and baseball, Upward soccer and basketball.
The Dance Team and the Safety Patrol are two extra-curricular activities that are especially coveted by students. Held after school, the Dance Team is taught by several teachers who are former “Golden Girls” of Peach County High School. These dedicated teachers sponsor this activity on their own time and without pay, and have turned this group into a vibrant part of the school as well as the community.
The Safety Patrol, which currently involves 50–60 children, promotes leadership skills. The junior squad, made up of first and second graders, patrol the hallways in the morning while the senior squad, made up of third, fourth, and fifth graders practically run the pick-up system for students in the afternoon.
Supervised by the CHAMPS (Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety) officer, this Georgia Sheriff’s program encourages students to earn and maintain high grades in addition to having exemplary conduct. These Safety Patrol students, some of whom hold offices within the organization, can be spotted by their bright green t-shirts.
Thanks to a new law passed by the Georgia Legislature in May 2012, regular-ed students who have high scores in Math and English/Language Arts can be placed in an advanced learner’s class as long as the teacher holds the “gifted” endorsement in her certification. This year a fifth grade advanced learner’s class in Math was added with plans for one in English/Language Arts next year. Plans for a fourth grade advanced class are being made for a year or two after that.
As the mission statement reads, “Byron Elementary School will challenge its students to achieve high standards and goals;” Martin agrees by adding, “The teamwork of the teachers and staff get the job done . . . whatever it takes they do.” #
202 New Dunbar Road
Byron, GA 31008