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New Experiences Bring LKMS Educators Together

New Experiences Bring LKMS Educators Together

The completion of Legacy Knoll Middle School brought new opportunities to students, teachers and the entire Jackson County community. For three of those Legacy Knoll teachers, one of those new opportunities has been spending their first year in the Jackson County School System.

While all of the staff at Legacy Knoll is new to the school, teachers Kristen Butkovich, Victoria Braswell and Courtney Beasley are all brand new to the Jackson County School System, and have their own unique stories of how they got there.

For Braswell, it is not only her first year in the school system, but is also her first year teaching since graduating from Georgia College. Braswell learned about Jackson County at a job fair her school was hosting, and quickly learned what makes the Jackson County School System stand out.

“I heard before that to Jackson County you are not just a number, you are a person, and I truly feel that way. I have felt that way since day one. Everyone knows who I am,” Braswell said.

Beasley had been teaching in Gwinnett County for seven years, but after moving to Jackson County almost four years ago, she quickly fell in love with her community and local school system.

“I talked to my husband and we just started talking about the school system here, and how we’ve had friends and family that live in this area and just praise how much they absolutely love it,” Beasley said. “Around April of last year, this place kind of came on the map. I had a couple friends who taught at West Jackson Middle School and they said this is a great place to work. Kind of by word of mouth I just happened to apply and didn’t really think anything of it.”

Beasley was offered a job by Principal Dr. Miriam Ledford-Lyle as a seventh grade math teacher, and has built quite the relationship with Ledford-Lyle and her co-workers.

 “Ledford-Lyle, I think she called the day after I applied and asked for an interview Saturday Morning. I immediately felt comfortable with her,” Beasley said. “She is just an awesome person to work with. The atmosphere here, since I met everyone in June, is just one big family.”

Butkovich may be new to working in the school system, but she is very familiar with what Jackson County is all about. Butkovich spent part of her childhood living in Jackson County and spent three and a half years attending a local elementary school as a child. Her familiarity with the county, as well as family ties to the area, brought her back years later.

“I have family in Jackson County and the surrounding Atlanta area. What brought us here is my husband just retired from the military, and so we wanted to move closer to family” Butkovich said. “I knew that this area kind of felt like home to me. I really just wanted to come back to a place that was welcoming, was a community, and, more importantly, I wanted to raise my son here so he could experience all those things.”

While all three teachers share a common bond as first year teachers in the school system, they also each have their own unique day-to-day experiences within Legacy Knoll.

Butkovich teaches seventh grade math and enjoys the bond she is able to build with all of her students each and every day.

“They’re (the kids) amazing. Honestly, that is why I love being here at Legacy Knoll, is the kids. The staff is amazing, our principal is phenomenal, the district staff is amazing, but ultimately, it’s my kids,” Butkovich said.

While Beasley enjoys those connections in the classroom, she also loves the opportunity to spend time with student athletes to help build them up both on and off the field.

“I am the assistant coach for the soccer team, girls and boys, and playing sports myself and tying sports into it, that to me has a huge impact on how students behave in class because there is a little bit more accountability,” Beasley said.

Beasley believes that connecting with the students is a necessity, and that is one of the things she loves about Jackson County.

“Just building those relationships, it is a lot easier in a smaller district, like we are in, coming from a district that had 180,000 kids to 10,000. The class sizes are smaller so it is easier to build those relationships,” Beasley said.  “I had never had the opportunity to live where I taught, so to see families at the ballpark, or Publix or something like that, it is just more of a sense of community.”

While all of these teachers have their own unique days at the school, Braswell has a unique opportunity to teach a class of only eight students. Braswell is a Special Education teacher for Legacy Knoll, and has a special connection with all eight of those kids.

“I truly enjoy working with the kids that are in here. In my classroom it feels like a family environment. The children are so kind, caring and loving for each other,” Braswell said.

All three teachers mentioned seeing great value in the ability to teach at a first year school, and are excited to be a part of the foundation of the Legacy Knoll Middle School. Beasley said she is glad to be a part of the first year in school history, and is eager to see what the future holds.

Legacy Knoll Middle School may be a first year school, but thanks in large part to the community around them, their new building was officially paid off by the school system. Butkovich is proud of her community for the value they placed on the county’s future.

“It shows that as a community, our priority is our kids and their education, and that we put that before anything else,” Butkovich said. “Truly that speaks volumes to the surrounding members of our community and where their goals and focus is for our school.”

Three great teachers, a great principal, and students who are eager to advance forward in their own educational journeys. That is just a small preview into Legacy Knoll Middle School. Braswell summed up the Jackson County experience perfectly – “It does feel like a family to me, and I know a lot of people say that, but I truly mean it.”