Amid the excitement of the first Friday night lights of this football season at Harmon Field, Park Creek Assistant Principal Krista Paige was honored as the 2023 Tom Jones Educator of the Year during the half-time awards presentation ceremony.
The Dalton Education Foundation presents the award annually to recognize Dalton educators who have made significant contributions in the education of Dalton’s children and who symbolize excellence in teaching.
Paige has spent her 27-year career in Dalton Public Schools serving students, staff and families as an elementary school teacher, literacy coach, and school administrator.
“It is no secret the passion she has for our students, staff, school, and district,” her nominator wrote. “She gives her all in everything she does each and every day. She is knowledgeable, patient, kind, and understanding…and goes over and beyond in her work with not only the students and their families but staff as well.”
Paige started her career as a kindergarten teacher at Roan School. She has served as a Reading Recovery teacher, English Language Learner (ELL) teacher, Early Intervention Program (EIP) teacher, and instructional coach before becoming the assistant principal at Park Creek School.
She says she is a lifelong learner and continuing her education has been one of her goals. She holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and specialists degree and has attended numerous trainings throughout her career including International Baccalaureate Elementary Training in Montreal, Canada; Cornerstone Literacy Initiative training in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at the Haringey School District in London, England; and Literacy Collaborative training at Lesley University in Boston, Massachusetts.
One of the most important things that she says she does each day as an educator is to show each student that they are loved and that she believes in them.
“I have an intentional plan for building connections with students daily as I stand at the ramp in the front of our schools to greet all students with a smile as they enter our school each morning,” Paige said. “Every single student should have a connection with a caring adult.”
She says her favorite time of each day is when she is in classrooms with students.
“I love to jump right in and join them in their learning or their classroom movement activities. They love that! My students know that I will always be there for them.”
She says that one of her greatest strengths is to inspire students both academically and personally. “Filling our students up with positivity and celebrating their success helps inspire them to be and do their best.”
Paige’s nominator wrote that she works to endlessly support the staff and families at Park Creek as well.
“She offers her assistance with strategies and interventions to meet the staff and student needs. Our families trust her because she gives her all in every conference that comes up.”
“Inspiring others is what I hope to do for each person I work with each day,” Paige said. “I can honestly say that is what my colleagues do for me.”
She is always looking for ways to support students, families, and staff. Most recently, she has been instrumental in helping to coordinate the “Helping Hands Ending Hunger Program”, the “Book Spot,” the student teacher program with local colleges, the outdoor learning initiative, and the Trauma Certified School designation.
Paige has won numerous awards throughout her career beginning in her first year of teaching when she was named the Dalton Public Schools Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year in 1997. She was also named the 2000 Dalton Public Schools Teacher of the Year and the 2000 Turner Broadcasting System Georgia Teacher of the Year.
“When reflecting back on my experiences and accomplishments,” Paige said, “‘my cup runneth over.’ I have been proud to be a part of a district that strives for excellence and lives out the ‘Dalton Difference’ each day as we continue to inspire and engage students in a profound learning because it is what every student deserves.”
This year’s finalists for the Tom Jones Educator of the Year Award this year included Claire Kyzer, Brookwood School; Caroline Mooney, Hammond Creek Middle School; Catelynn Schroeder, Dalton Junior High School; Denise Shults, Westwood School; Ginger Farmer, City Park School; Janna Pye, Dalton High School; Luke Tolbert, Dalton Junior High School; Makenzie Flood, Brookwood School; Magia Kalafut, Park Creek School; McKenzie Parker, City Park School; Ric Murry, City Park School; Sandra Crow, Dalton High School; and Vanesa Vazquez, Park Creek School.
The award, first presented in 1987, is named in memory of Tom Jones, who served on the Dalton Board of Education for 26 years, serving as chairman from 1967 to 1987. He was a prominent businessman who co-founded J +J Flooring Group, a Dalton native, and a product of Dalton Public Schools.
The Dalton Education Foundation was established in 1987 to promote educational excellence in Dalton Public Schools through education, recognition and enrichment. The foundation provides “over and above” resources, both human and financial, to enable educators to dream dreams about how to build a truly superb school district and then, with foundation assistance, to follow that dream.