The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and the Georgia Parent Teacher Association (GA PTA) joined together to recognize six parents from around Georgia.

The six were adorned with the Georgia Parent Leadership Award. This is the sixth year the award, created by the GaDOE and the GA PTA, has been issued. It’s given to parents to offer outstanding leadership “in creating a foundation of support for student achievement and success.”

The six were chosen from a list of 37 nominees, all from public school personnel.  The majority of nominations were submitted by schools from the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System.

The 2017 winners are:

  • Darren Bagley-Heath, Isle of Hope K-8 School, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
  • Sarah Clark, Pooler Elementary School, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
  • Deidre’ Donaldson, New Hampstead High School, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
  • Lily Pabian, Elkins Pointe Middle School, Fulton County Schools
  • Kathy Restel, Coastal Middle School, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
  • Antonio Wesby, Burke County Middle School, Burke County Public Schools


“It is an honor to recognize these parent leaders, who have made a difference not only for their own children, but for many more through their dedicated involvement,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “The positive impact of an involved parent, someone who takes a leadership role in supporting their child’s education and advocating for student success, does not stop with one child. It affects the entire school. Involved parents like the six individuals being recognized with this award are an absolutely crucial part of the work we do as educators.”

“These six parents represent the very best in Family Engagement! Parents that give not only in support of their children, but act as a voice for every child. We celebrate their commitment and the successes that come from their involvement,” Lisa-Marie Haygood, Georgia PTA President, added.

The six state winners for 2017 represent one elementary, three middle, one dual elementary and middle school, and one high school.

Winners of the 2017 Georgia Parent Leadership Award become one-year honorary members of the State Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council to have opportunities throughout the year to provide their input on family and community engagement activities at the state level.

Photos: Georgia Department of Education

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Jessica Szilagyi is statewide contributor for All On Georgia and Market Manager for Southeast Georgia. Her main focus with All On Georgia is state and local politics as well as agriculture. She’s served as a policy analyst at the State Capitol and as a campaign manager in political races across the state.

She writes for and has two blogs of her own: ‘The Perspicacious Conservative’, a political blog, and ‘Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers’, a blog on moving from Atlanta to rural Georgia. Jessica is also a contributor for Fox5 Atlanta’s ‘Like it Or Not.’