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Brookwood Elementary celebrates its 25th year

Special Photo. Hal Beaver, Maxine Rithmire and Karen Head celebrate Brookwood Elementary's 25th year.

Special Photo. Hal Beaver, Maxine Rithmire and Karen Head celebrate Brookwood Elementary's 25th year.

Hal Beaver, Maxine Rithmire and Karen Head joined together and blew out the candles on the birthday cake.

But they weren't celebrating their birthdays. They were celebrating the 25th anniversary of Brookwood Elementary School.

Head, the school's principal, recently hosted a birthday party for the school in the cafeteria. Guests included former principals Beaver and Rithmire, as well as current and former faculty and staff members.

Beaver, who was principal from 1985 to 1989, recalled meeting with principals of nearby schools when Brookwood Elementary opened.

"We tried to make this place a community," he said. "It was a wonderful community. It still is."

Beaver said the school will always have a special place in his heart.

"It's still No. 1 in my heart," he said.

Rithmire, who was principal from 1989 to 2005, said the school's history of success began with Beaver.

"I want you to know how much I appreciate that you left Brookwood and let me have it," she told him during the birthday celebration.

Rithmire shared several memories of the 17 years she led the school.

"You as professionals are all about learning and trying to find the next research-based strategy," she said. "You do all kinds of things to help children be motivated. This is a unique place where children are the focus."

Head, who was hired by Rithmire as an assistant principal, said Brookwood Elementary is a wonderful place that she hasn't wanted to leave.

"What I'm most proud of is what we're doing is what's good for students, and we're doing what's great for kids," she said. "We've done a lot of great things here, and we've had a lot of fun along the way."

Kirksey named School Social Worker of Year

A Gwinnett County Public Schools professional who supports students and their families by removing barriers from the students' learning has been named Georgia's School Social Worker of the Year.

Christa Kirksey, a school social worker, was selected for the state's top title by the School Social Workers Association of Georgia. She officially received the award during the organization's annual conference, which took place Tuesday to Friday in Atlanta.

Kirksey is the first GCPS school social worker to receive the state's highest title since the award program was implemented in 1984. The annual recognition honors exemplary school social workers from throughout the state of Georgia.

As the school social worker for the Parkview cluster, Kirksey is the link between the school, the home and the community. She facilitates open communication between these three entities, helping them work together to reach a shared goal of academic success for each and every student.

In doing that, she works directly with students who may be experiencing challenges with attending school, achieving in school or adjusting to school.

Kirksey joined Gwinnett County Public Schools in 1994, offering her support in the South Gwinnett cluster. Since then, she has contributed to the success of students in the Berkmar, Grayson and Meadowcreek clusters. She has served the Parkview cluster since 2006.

Kirksey holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Florida State University and a master's degree in social work from the University of Georgia. She is also certified in leadership.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.