Morrow High School Latin teacher Ginia McMillan lets out a laugh Wednesday as she and one of her students, Lindsey Perry, take in the fact that they are Clayton County's STAR Teacher and STAR Student of the year.
MORROW Morrow High School senior Lindsey Perry is a wise sage in a teenager’s body, according to her Latin teacher, Ginia McMillan.
The educator said that Perry came to the school as a mature young woman when she was a freshman and continued to display that personality throughout her high school career.
“Lindsey is an old, wise soul,” McMillan said. “From the moment I first met her she was in the ninth grade, she was just so responsible and so level-headed. She came here grown up.”
Perry, 17, was named Clayton County’s STAR Student for 2013 on Wednesday, and McMillan was named the county’s STAR Teacher. She is the third Morrow student in four years to receive the honor. Former Morrow High School students Thanh Thuy Phan and Michael Hollyday were named the overall county STAR Student in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
McMillan was also the county’s STAR Teacher the year Phan won the honor.
The STAR Student and STAR Teacher program is run by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and local chambers of commerce as a way to recognize high-achieving students. Each pupil must have their school’s highest SAT score and be either in the top 10 percent, or among the top 10 students in their graduating class to be their school’s STAR Student. They pick a STAR Teacher who has been helpful to them.
Each year, the STAR Student with the highest SAT score is named the county’s overall STAR Student and STAR Teacher during the luncheon, and they and their STAR Teacher can compete for regional and state honors.
In Clayton County, the Chamber of Commerce partners with the Clayton County Rotary Club to hold a recognition luncheon.
“The sky is the limit for you guys,” said Rotary Club President D.J. Fulton, whose son Geoff was Jonesboro High School’s STAR Student 25 years ago. The younger Fulton is now his father’s boss at Fulton & Kozak CPAs. “If you work hard over the next 25 years, then one day you’ll be writing your parents’ paychecks just like my son writes mine.”
Perry earned an SAT score of 2120, and has a 4.42 grade-point average. She is considering attending either Agnes Scott College or the Georgia Institute of Technology, and she plans to major in either English literature or business administration.
Morrow Principal Pamela Pitts jumped out of her seat and began screaming while running in circles around her school’s table as Perry was announced as the county-wide STAR winner.
Pitts, McMillan and Perry then came together for a group hug as Clayton County Chamber of Commerce President Yulonda Beauford used Morrow’s recent success to encourage the other schools to up their game.
Perry said she picked McMillan as her STAR Teacher because she is knowledgeable about the subject she teaches, and because she helps her students succeed.
McMillan is the sponsor for Morrow’s BETA Club, of which Perry is a member, and she wrote recommendations for Perry’s college applications.
In addition to being a county-wide STAR Teacher with Phan and Perry, McMillan has also been Morrow STAR Teacher with three other STAR Students from the school.
“She’s just an outstanding teacher and role model who knows what she’s doing,” Perry said.
McMillan said she’s surprised whenever a student picks her to be the STAR Teacher.
“Every time, it blows my mind and every time I ask them, ‘Are you sure?” McMillan said. “I just do what I do and don’t really think of that. I do care about my students, and I do care how they’re doing and how well they’re doing, but it’s them doing well. Not me.”
Perry said she was happy to have found success in high school, and she attributed that success to teachers like McMillan. This was actually the second county-wide honor bestowed upon Perry in as many months. Last month, the Augustin Clayton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution named her its “Good Citizen of the Year.”
“I’m proud of it,” Perry said. “I’ve worked hard, and, of course, I didn’t get here alone. I’ve had teachers like Mrs. McMillan and my parents helping me along the way.”
Other school-level STAR Students and STAR Teachers include:
• Charles R. Drew High School’s Chelesa Fearce (student) and Vijay Oomen (teacher);
• Forest Park High School’s Justin Vo (student) and Israel Rowe (teacher);
• Jonesboro High School’s Khoa Ngo (student) and Kent Pate (teacher);
• Lovejoy High School’s Rebekah Holtzclaw (student) and Sharon McMeans-Lukiri (teacher);
• Mount Zion High School’s Bryce Wilborn (student) and Shekema Silveri (teacher);
• Mundy’s Mill High School’s Christana Fagbile (student) and J. David Dearin (teacher);
• North Clayton High School’s Jakeyah Gadson (student) and Vicente Castaneda (teacher);
• Riverdale High School’s Nahom Ogbazghi (student) and Sean Antonetti (teacher).