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Harper, Hinesley recognized by state Senate for contributions to education

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Bartow County’s two retiring school superintendents were bestowed an honor last week that neither of them expected.

The Georgia State Senate recognized Dr. John Harper and Dr. Howard Hinesley at the state Capitol March 5 with two resolutions, introduced by Sen. Bruce Thompson, that praised them for the work they’ve done as leaders of the Bartow County and Cartersville City school systems, respectively, as well as their contributions to the field of education in general. 

“Both of the men are instrumental in education in Bartow and Cartersville, and both of them are well-respected within the community for their contribution to our education and what they’ve done to provide for not only the students, but the families in Bartow as we’ve rapidly grown,” Thompson said. “They’ve been challenging roles, obviously, and I think they’ve met the challenge with that. I think it’s only appropriate that we honor them for their contributions to Bartow County and Cartersville schools.”

Both superintendents announced last fall — two weeks apart, in fact — that they would end their education careers when their contracts expired June 30, 2018. Bartow County is currently conducting a nationwide search for its next leader and hopes to hire someone in the next few weeks while Cartersville immediately named its high school principal, Dr. Marc Feuerbach, as Hinesley’s successor, effective July 1.  

Harper, who’s been leading Bartow’s 13,000-plus students since 2008, said he was “very humbled and honored to be recognized with Senate Resolution 670.” 

“I didn’t expect it,” the Adairsville resident said. “I appreciate the working relationship I have with Sen. Bruce Thompson and his dedication to the Bartow County School System and the wonderful administrators, teachers and children that make it what it is today — an innovative network of partnerships that’s focused on preparing our children for the workforce.” 

The resolution recognized Harper for his 49-year education career that started as a South Carolina classroom teacher and commended him on his accomplishments during his tenure as Bartow’s superintendent, which included building six new schools and renovating about a dozen more, opening the county’s first college and career academy and completing a one-to-one conversion program that put laptops in the hands of fourth- through 12th-graders.     

The resolution also applauded Harper’s leadership for bringing stability to the system “through uncertain times.”

“And even when faced with the challenges of the economic downturn, he exhibited his compassionate nature by taking a reduction in salary to help with reduced funds from the state,” it said. 

Hinesley — who took over Cartersville’s system of more than 4,000 students in July 2005 after serving 14 years as superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, the 21st largest school system in the country — said it was “truly an honor” to be recognized by the state senators.

“I am very appreciative of Sen. Thompson and the kind words he spoke while introducing the proclamation and the warm reception we received from the lieutenant governor and the members of the Senate,” he said.

Senate Resolution 690 commended Hinesley, who began his teaching career in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for being named Superintendent of the Year while serving in Pinellas County and for starting the successful GateKey Scholarship Program —designed to encourage and help at-risk students go to college — that was used as a model by Gov. Nathan Deal to create the statewide REACH Georgia Scholarship Program.

“While serving as superintendent of Cartersville schools, [Hinesley’s] focus on academics, athletics and the arts ensured a full educational experience for students,” it said. 

For Hinesley, his experience at the state Capitol was unlike any he’d ever had before.

“During my 49 years in education, I have had the honor of working with two legislative bodies,” he said. “However, I have never had the opportunity to address one such as the Georgia Senate. It was a very rewarding experience and one that I will always remember.” 

Harper said he and Hinesley drove to the Capitol together for the “very exciting” event.

“It was a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of our school systems,” he said. “I consider Dr. Hinesley a friend whom I can call on at any given time. We’re truly dedicated to working together for the betterment of our children in Cartersville and Bartow County.”

Hinesley said it was “certainly a privilege” to be honored along with Harper.

“He has done a good job as superintendent of Bartow County Schools,” he said. “We both appreciated the honor to be recognized by the senators of the great state of Georgia.”

Thompson even noted the bond the two school system leaders have during his comments at the Capitol, according to Bartow’s Facebook page.

“This is something not every community has — a county and city superintendent that work hand in hand,” he said. “They don’t fight over the little things; rather [they] work in a cooperative manner to take care of the kids.”

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