Some former and current Bartow County educators recalled the work of Nancy Summey fondly recently.
Summey, 66, of Cartersville, died Monday, April 22. Funeral services for the longtime Bartow County teacher and principal were held at Owen Funeral Home in Cartersville Wednesday, April 24.
She retired in 2016 after a 42-year career in the Bartow County School System which included stints as principal at Pine Log, Emerson and Mission Road elementary schools, according to an obituary posted on the Owen Funeral Home website.
Longtime friend Bernadette “Bunny” DiPetta noted Summey engendered affection throughout Bartow County even after being away from the school system for three years.
By April 24, almost 140 individual messages of remembrance or support were posted on the Bartow County School System Facebook page about Summey, with some recalling either working with her, being a student at one of her schools or seeing her at community events like Relay for Life.
Among them were DiPetta, who wrote, “You were and are the principal that all aspire to model. You loved the many staffs you led and all of the children that entered your schools’ doors.”
DiPetta retired as principal of Taylorsville Elementary School in 2018 after 40 years as a teacher and administrator in Bartow County schools. She said she and Summey never worked together but often collaborated or socialized when both were assistant principals and principals in the Bartow County system.
“Nancy’s demeanor was of a very calming soul but one who wanted to make a difference,” DiPetta said. “She did it with professionalism.”
Nicole Graves, an autism teacher at Emerson Elementary School, said she worked as a special education teacher at Pine Log Elementary from 2008 to 2010 when Summey was principal.
She said Summey “had a sophisticated, admirable, and gracious presence.”
“Each day, she greeted every family member and student at the front door of the school with a beautiful smile, a warm handshake, or a loving hug,” Graves said.
She said Summey also made sure the teaching staff knew that “children come first.”
“She loved the students and she very much valued education,” Graves said.
Graves said Summey “went to every classroom, to check on her staff and students to ensure their safety and academic needs were being met.”
Summey “was a very professional, and respected principal who followed rules and procedures to a ‘T,’ but she also had a very compassionate, kind-hearted side as well,” Graves said.
“We all knew she was there for us. Her presence was well-known and it was a feeling of ‘everything is being taken care of’ because our principal is here for us,” Graves said.
Summey typically visited all the school’s classrooms during the day, she said.
“Mrs. Summey would talk about all the “good things” she was seeing in teachers’ classrooms during faculty meetings,” Graves said.
“Teachers are just like kids. The more you praise us, the harder we work. She was a smart lady. She knew this worked,” she said.
“Mrs. Summey inspired us to be better teachers. She brought out the best in us so we could bring out the best in our students. She was an inspirational leader who valued education and loved all children,” Graves said.
DiPetta said Summey also was “so admired” in the school communities where she worked and always tried to assist students who faced financial or personal hardships.
She said she knew Summey for 40 years and remained close with her even after both had retired.
“We remained lifelong friends,” she said.
DiPetta said she spoke with Summey at least weekly and was with her three days before she died.
“I knew she wasn’t feeling well,” DiPetta said.
A native of Waco, Summey was a graduate of Mt. Zion High School in Carroll County. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of West Georgia, and a master's degree in administration from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama.
Friends and family can leave online condolences for the family at www.owenfunerals.com.