Barge, who was born and raised in Smyrna and attended Cobb Schools as a child, named the Phillips Award after retired Food Services Manager Condyce Phillips and the Fountain Award after former Campbell High Football Coach Monty Fountain. Each received their awards and gift certificates last school year.
“(The awards are) a way to recognize teachers and support staff that have really had a significant impact on students,” Barge said. “The awards were created for an opportunity for adults to look back and recognize and honor teachers and support staff who help them become the adults they are today.”
The Phillips Award recognizes a certified support or non-certified staff member, and the Fountain Award recognizes a certified staff member or teacher.
Barge said Phillips, who was the lunchroom manager at Griffin Middle when he was there, was honored because when he was in sixth grade she noticed that he stopped standing in line for lunch tickets because he was embarrassed about receiving free and reduced lunch.
“People made fun of you, so I quit going to get my tickets,” he said. “Ms. Phillips came and pulled me out of my homeroom class and told me that I never had to stand in that line again. I’d go in her office every Monday morning and she’d take care of me. That began a friendship that has lasted until today.”
He learned later on that also during his three years at Griffin, Phillips would visit his teachers and check to see if he ever needed anything.
“There is a whole lot that people in education do outside of the curriculum and the textbook, and sometimes it’s just letting a kid know that you care,” he said.
Phillips, who retired from Cobb Schools in 1991 after 23 years with the district and 28 years as a food services manager, said she was overwhelmed by Barge’s kindness in not only recognizing her but also naming an award after her.
“It is one of the biggest thrills of my life,” the 81-year-old Marietta resident said. “I did reach out to the students, and I can’t express what a wonderful feeling your body and heart has. I never imagined that I would be so privileged. In one word, the feeling is priceless.”
Phillips said she remembered Barge talking about being where he is today, even as a young middle school student.
“He was just such an outstanding student,” she said. “Even in the sixth grade he had his head on right. It was his goal of getting as much education as possible and being an educator and helping children.”
Phillips also reminded those still in the educational system to take time to encourage students like she did.
“You have a lot of work, but you can still put it aside, especially if a student needs you,” she said.
The Fountain Award is named after Barge’s football coach and Civics teacher at Campbell High School, who is now a teacher at Alexander High School in Douglas County.
He was chosen for the second award because as Barge’s coach, he continuously encouraged and pushed him towards success.
“He never cussed at us, berated us or treated us badly,” Barge said. “He was encouraging, he had very high expectations and you never gave him anything less than your best.”
Anyone who attended a public school in Georgia can nominate a support staff employee or educator who impacted his or her life. A committee on Barge’s staff quarterly chooses the candidates.
Visit the state’s website at www.doe.k12.ga.us, click on Barge’s icon, and applications for each award are located on the right hand side of the page.
“It’s a real simple form where you fill out the form on the person that you’re nominating and write an essay on how they made an impact,” Barge said.