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Six parents recognized with Parent Leadership Award sponsored by GaDOE and Georgia PTA

MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office,, 404-463-4246 or Tyler Barr, Georgia PTA President,, 404-659-0214


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June 5, 2019 – The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and the Georgia Parent Teacher Association (GA PTA) are recognizing six parents from across the state with the Georgia Parent Leadership Award. The 2019 winners are: 


  • Rona Falls, Mundy Mill Academy, Gainesville City Schools
  • Paul Goolsby, R.S. Alexander High School, Douglas County Schools
  • Meshana Spivey, J.C. Magill Elementary School, Gwinnett County Schools
  • Darren Scheyer, Riverside Elementary School, Columbia County Schools
  • Jessica Williams, Georgia Connections Academy
  • Da’Jon Jackson, G.W. Northcutt Elementary School, Clayton County Schools


The award was created by GaDOE and GA PTA to recognize parents for their outstanding leadership in creating a foundation of support for student achievement and success.


“Nothing we do as educators is possible without parent involvement and support,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “I commend each of these individuals for investing in their child’s education and, in the process, lifting up the entire school community.”


“To make every child’s potential a reality, demonstrates commitment to the mission of PTA,” said Georgia PTA President Tyler Barr. “I am excited, proud and congratulate each of these individuals for engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children!”


Parents were nominated by their local schools. Any caregiver who assumes responsibility for sustaining a student’s educational, emotional, spiritual, and physical health was eligible for the honor. The six winners will be recognized on June 8, 2019 at Georgia PTA’s Convention Leadership Training (CLT) in Atlanta.


Highlights – 2019 Parent Leadership Award Winners


Rona Falls, Mundy Mill Academy, Gainesville City Schools

Nominated by Dr. Crystal Brown, Principal, Mundy Mill Academy

Rona Falls has been an active parent volunteer at Mundy Mill Academy since the school opened in 2017. She serves on the PTA, the School Governance Council, the district’s Technology Committee, and is a regular volunteer within the school. 

“Mrs. Falls is the first person that comes to my mind when we need a volunteer to help with school functions,” Dr. Brown wrote. “She has worked in the school’s Holiday Store, helps with Picture Day, hangs student artwork in our display cases, chaperones field trips, and attends school events. … She is a tremendous asset to Mundy Mill Learning Academy.”

Amanda Studer, a third-grade teacher at Mundy Mill Learning Academy and the 2019 Gainesville City Schools Teacher of the Year, wrote:

“Mrs. Falls has a positive attitude and is willing to help in any way. She welcomes all families into the school and empowers others to be advocates for their child’s learning. … She is truly deserving of this honor for all the hard work she does and the direct impact she has on Mundy Mill.”


Paul Goolsby, R.S. Alexander High School, Douglas County Schools

Nominated by Mitzi Blackstone, School Counselor, R.S. Alexander High School

Paul Goolsby is a grandparent volunteer at R.S. Alexander High School. At least four days per week, he can be found on campus helping by picking up trash in the parking lots and grassy areas. He is active in school and community events and regularly interacts with and encourages students.  

His nomination reads: “Many of our students might not hear an encouraging word from an adult outside of our building without the words of Paul. Many of our community members would not be aware of the achievements of Alexander without the ambassadorship of Mr. Goolsby. Our school is truly blessed to have a grandfather for all of our students.”  

Matthew Combs, head football coach and math teacher at R.S. Alexander, wrote: 
“The greatest leaders are servant leaders. Mr. Paul leads by example daily. His willingness to do what others won’t and his desire to support all is what makes him a great man; an example we should all strive to be. Mr. Paul is a pillar of the Alexander community. He is a stakeholder that every school dreams to have.” 

Nathan Hand, principal at R.S. Alexander, wrote:

“Paul is the true example of a servant leader. He is not too proud to complete a humble task. He is quick to clean up the student area after a sporting event or the auditorium after a ceremony. … Any time Paul has a suggestion, I listen. I know it will be an idea that makes a positive impact on our community.”


Meshana Spivey, J.C. Magill Elementary School, Gwinnett County Schools

Nominated by Lakia Williams, Parent Instructional Coordinator, J.C. Magill Elementary School

Meshana Spivey has been an active participant and volunteer at J.C. Magill Elementary School for several years. As the school’s PTA president, she established a strong and cohesive PTA board and has sponsored events to promote literacy. Spivey regularly volunteers in classrooms and is an advocate for students with special needs.

Dr. Tonya Burnley, principal at J.C. Magill, wrote:

“Mrs. Spivey’s unique talents to build positivity in our building [are] contagious across our community. I have seen, under her leadership, an increase in parental involvement and an increase in parent satisfaction. This positive climate has a direct impact on the success of our students.”

Aerrin James, a fifth-grade teacher at J.C. Magill, wrote:

“Mrs. Spivey is everything you look for in a leader. Her knowledge in organizing parents for a specific task or purpose is absolutely amazing. She cares deeply for the Magill community and that shines through in everything she does.” 


Darren Scheyer, Riverside Elementary School, Gwinnett County Schools

Nominated by Kirk Wright, Principal, Riverside Elementary

As PTO president at Riverside Elementary, Darren Scheyer has leveraged his strong connections within the community to revitalize the PTO’s mission and vision.

Scheyer has spent countless hours on campus in an effort to be visible for parents in the community, used social media to effectively communicate with parents about the PTO, and fully supported the school’s efforts to inform parents about instructional issues and celebrate students’ successes. He brings knowledge and expertise that benefit parents and teachers alike.

“Simply stated, Mr. Scheyer is every principal’s dream parent,” Wright wrote. “He approaches his duties on our PTO with a spirit of servant leadership and a steadfast belief that parent-teacher organizations exist for the purpose of supporting teaching and learning.”


Jessica Williams, Georgia Connections Academy

Nominated by Jennifer Bywaters, Graduation Coach, Georgia Connections Academy

Jessica Williams has served as a member of the counseling advisory board at Georgia Connections Academy for three years. In that capacity, she helped the school create, and was directly involved in implementing, a new program to help families transition from traditional brick-and-mortar schools to the virtual school environment. Data on this program shows strong success, and parent feedback is positive.

“When I reflect over the transformation our message to parents is undertaking and the program we have implemented thanks to this one parent, I am so impressed that one woman is impacting our school in such a major way,” the school’s nomination reads. “She sets the bar for parent involvement.”


Da’Jon Jackson, G.W. Northcutt Elementary School, Clayton County Schools

Nominated by Arlando Dawson, Principal, G.W. Northcutt Elementary School

Da’Jon Jackson is a dedicated volunteer at G.W. Northcutt Elementary and works countless hours after school to assist staff members. He was instrumental in planning a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) pep rally for students, has worked with small groups of students to teach them their roles for the school’s Black History program, and is described as a model parent and support system who has helped the school grow academically and socially. 

“Both students and staff welcome and appreciate Da’Jon’s positive and personal approach that instantly makes an indelible mark on everything that he is involved in,” Vonnetta Wedderburn, an art teacher at G.W. Northcutt, wrote. “Having him volunteer truly makes a difference in the culture of our school.”​