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A man who has made a difference

By Walter Geiger A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. This passage from the 5th chapter of Matthew is the one that comes to mind when one examines the role Dr. Bill Truby has played as superintendent of Lamar County schools. I was shocked when I realized that he has been in his position for only eight years. It seems like much longer due to all his many successes. Many, many men live out their lives accomplishing little. Bill Truby has left his mark on this community ‘“ a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. Bill, an ordained minister, does not hide his strong faith. He has taken his message to the pulpit of many local churches. His light shines brightly and we were fortunate enough to bask in it. A man of faith and conviction was needed when he got here eight years ago. The school system was on probationary status with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the recognized regional accrediting body. Under his leadership, probation was removed and, soon, the school board was named a Board of Distinction by the Georgia School Boards Association. The school system had a divided history, its board a checkered past at best. Once upon a time, meetings lasted to the wee hours as disruptive members argued about petty matters just for the sake of argument and personal aggrandizement. Bill saw the need to unite those who had been educated at Gordon, Barnesville Academy or elsewhere. He established superintendent’s councils, drawing input from community leaders, parents, ministers and everyday citizens. It was revolutionary. No one had ever asked the opinion of most of these folks before. To him, every student matters, every parent matters and every taxpayer matters. He didn’t win over all of them but most all respect him. Lo and behold, academics improved because people were engaged. The system’s test scores moved from the bottom to near the top in its RESA area. People took notice. Suddenly a school system parents had fled in the past was attracting students from other areas. Additional sports programs were added as were other after school programs like karate, driver’s ed, baton, dance, technology and exercise. A JROTC program was implemented and, most recently, the College and Career Academy opened and is already drawing rave reviews. Grants were written; millions of dollars have been received and much more is in the pipeline. Perhaps most visible under Bill’s tenure have been facility upgrades. Two SPLOST votes were scheduled to bring in one percent off local sales. Each passed with near 80% voter approval or better. That money was used to upgrade or add to existing campus buildings and build a school system headquarters where devotionals are held every Monday and attended by central office staff and school leaders. Additionally, the system now has a 1,000seat, state of the art fine arts center; a new baseball, softball and tennis complex; and a football stadium that is the envy of middle Georgia. Bill envisioned world class facilities and he got them. His students are proud of them and it shows in their work both on and off the athletic field or stage. Bill’s work didn’t end there. He got involved in the community in just about every possible manner. As admiration for him grew, support for the system grew. People are more likely to get behind something when they know a good, godly man is at the helm. When he leaves us at the end of this month, it will be hard to say goodbye to Bill Truby. He will be sorely, sorely missed. His successor, Jute Wilson, has enormous shoes to fill and we wish him well in doing so. He, and we, have one thing to be certain of. We will be in Bill Truby’s prayers. And, those are prayers from deep in the heart of a fine Christian leader. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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