MOULTRIE -- When veteran teacher Trudie Hill retired this spring from Colquitt County High School, she didn't want to walk away from helping children.

That's why she has taken a seat on the school board left empty a month ago by the death of District 1 representative Stine George.

"I love teaching children and working with them," she said, stressing she also wants to serve the community.

Hill had a 35-year career in teaching. A retired teacher has good insight into teachers' issues and concerns, she said. Hill's focus is to improve student achievement and attract more qualified teachers while ensuring diversity in proportion to the student population.

"We want our students to be able to compete in the work force and in the society in which they are planning to live," she said. "We're losing a lot of teachers. We're losing a lot of black teachers. Some are retiring. Some are moving."

More parental participation is paramount, Hill said.

"When we have had open house in the past. There hasn't been such a great turnout across the racial/economic lines, so we want to try and encourage that this time," she said.

Hill taught English within the regular education program and later entered the "Special Education Program" where she taught language arts as well as other diciplines. She was head of the Special Education Department for about 14 years.

During the summer program, she has taught 10th grade regular classes and, periodically, college-prep English.

Hill was named "Teacher of the Month" twice, and three times she was nominated for "Distinguished Outstanding Teachers of America."

She has served on the state advisory board for Teacher Certification test, which was Project Success sponsored by Georgia State University.

She attended Albany State College and received a bachelor's degree in English. She obtained certification at Valdosta State University to teach mentally retarded students. She received and currently holds state certification in data collection.

Hill is a member of Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Moultrie, where she currently is serving as a steward and is a former director of Christian education.

The board ratified a special election for the vacant seat to be held during the November general election. Hill intends to qualify for that seat. Three other board terms are ending this year. Two seats are contested races. For District 2, Democrat Jerry Meister, chairman of the Colquitt County Schools Board of Education, is opposed by Republican James A. Robinson, a self-employed electrician from Ellenton.

Past-chairman Gerry Webb chose not to run again for District 3. Three candidates are vying for that seat: Democrat Leland R. Dampier Jr., 52, retired Colquitt County Schools Administrative Assistant for Facilities, retired principal of Sunset Elementary School Jimmy Taylor, 62, also a Democrat,

and Republican David R. Tyndall, 42, partner in a general legal practice in Moultrie and vice president of a commercial real estate development company.

Debra Hampton qualified for District 6 without opposition.

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