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Dacula principal says job was 'like family'

DACULA -- March 30 is going to be a bittersweet day for longtime administrator Donnie Nutt.

After 12 years as principal at Dacula High School, Nutt is retiring.

While he looks forward to retirement, he said leaving the education post means leaving his "Dacula family" at the school.

"We take care of each other here," Nutt said. "I think that's because people are in tune with building relationships, and those relationships mean something to the people here. These people that work here live it. It is Dacula Family, and we treat each other as family."

Several assistant principals at Dacula High School agreed.

"We do have a family atmosphere here at Dacula," said Assistant Principal Jeannie Hidalgo. "Much of that is because of his leadership."

Assistant Principal Kristy Dermid said part of Nutt's success as a leader comes from "his ability to see every side of a situation."

Nutt, who is the longest sitting administrator at Dacula High School's current location, is what Assistant Principal Garry Adams calls "a teacher's principal."

"He has that ability ... he knows the teachers' responsibilities, and he steps back to let us do those things."

In addition, Adams said, Nutt "sincerely cares about the students and what's best for them, and he bases his decisions on that as the main factor."

Head football coach Jared Zito agreed.

"The students can see that he's very personable. He's a very warm and friendly person. He has a good heart, and he has the best interest of everybody in mind," Zito said. "The kids are in tune to that."

As a former student of Dacula High School, Nutt said is able to see the job from the students' perspective. He also has served at the school as a teacher, a coach and an assistant principal. Of his 34 years in the field, 17 years were spent at the high school.

Nutt lives in Dacula with wife, Darenda. They have two kids, Casey, who attends college, and Brittany, who is a teacher at Dacula Elementary.

In order to be a good educator, Nutt said, a person "has to really care about kids, and has to want to help them on a deep level. I was glad to spend time trying to help them out in this community."