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Saturday 17 August 2019
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Yancy J. Ford : HOMETOWN EDUCATOR

Story by Cindy Reid | Photos by Shelia Scott

Sometimes being from somewhere makes all the difference. Some kids grow up in the country and can’t wait to leave home and see the world. Other kids see home as the world and can’t wait to grow up and find their place in their community.     Meet Dr. Yancy Ford, who took the ‘hometown’ road. Early on, he made the choice to utilize his skills and education in the world he grew up in and that choice has greatly benefited the Effingham County community. As an integral part of the Effingham County School District, Dr. Ford has been positively impacting the lives of students for the past twenty years.     Effingham County is truly Dr. Ford’s hometown. He says, “I definitely had a small- town upbringing. I was born and raised here. We lived in Clyo, Georgia, on Fair St, for seventeen years. After that we moved to Pineora, and lived on Old Marlon Road by Smithy’s Grocery. “He says, “Kids today wouldn’t recognize that life. We didn’t even have cable television. We had three channels and I was the remote control!” He says, “My roots are in the simple life, which was a good life.”   After graduating from Effingham County High School, Dr. Ford headed to Statesboro where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business and Sport Marketing from Georgia Southern University in 1998. After a few stints in the private sector, such as interning at MCI Heritage of Golf on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and outside sales representative at Cable and Wireless Communications in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Ford made the choice to change his focus. He says today, “The best decision I ever made- except for marrying my wife- was to change career paths and get into education.” He returned to Georgia Southern University and in 1999 earned a Business Education Certification.

In the Classroom    Dr. Ford started his teaching career at Effingham County Middle School in 1999 as a Business Education Teacher and then moved to Effingham County High School (ECHS) also as a Business Education Teacher in 2000. In 2004, he became Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at ECHS and in 2006 he was named ECHS principal.      Always continuing his education, in 2004 he earned a Master of Education (M.Ed.) from Georgia Southern University. In 2009, he earned the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) from Georgia Southern and in 2015 he was awarded a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

also from Georgia Southern University.     In 2016, Dr. Ford, who had been the Principal at Effingham County High school for ten years, was chosen to become Assistant Superintendent with the Effingham County School system, working with Superintendent, Randy Shearouse.

On the Field    Dr. Ford has been involved with sports and athletics throughout his life and career. He says, “I have a passion to help youth achieve and to be their very best.” He has an extensive background in coaching Varsity and Junior Varsity baseball and football.     In a huge win, Dr. Ford coached the 10U and 12U Effingham County Jaguars

football teams to win three GRPA (Georgia Recreation and Parks) State Championships, consecutively in 2015, 2016 and 2017.     The Georgia state GRPA championships, in conjunction with his long record of involvement with youth sports, led to him being inducted into the Effingham County Sports Hall of Fame this year.     Dr. Ford states, “I said I would only accept this honor if the group of ten players who had been on all three GRPA championship teams with me were also included. The Hall of Fame agreed and this was the first time a team was so honored.” He says, “They are all now in different high schools, and have gone their own way, but we keep in touch and we all share a special bond.”

Teamwork    When speaking of bonds, Dr. Ford says, “That translates right into leadership. As a coach, as a high school principal, and as an assistant superintendent, I found you need to surround yourself with good people. Create a team and the winning takes care of itself. “He says leadership teams are essentially core groups working towards a common goal.       “My goal as Assistant Superintendent is to support principals, teachers and support staff at the ground level to help students achieve for the good of the student.” Because he says, “Students need to be prepared for post secondary life in the work and educational venues. Students need to be ready to move to the next phase of their life.” Students have changed Dr. Ford says because their resources and tools have changed so dramatically. “Students now have so much knowledge at their fingertips. But students still want structure. They still want to be cared about. They still need mentors, teachers, coaches, band directors, agricultural directors. “He says, “Students thirst for that bond still. Now they have so much information they need to be careful and they need to learn that everything on the internet is not true. We need to help them decipher between what’s what and help them to problem solve on their own.“

New Safety Programs    “We have to work hard and make our schools safe havens.” says Dr. Ford. “We have 12,000 students in our charge and safety is our top priority. If our buildings aren’t safe, teachers can’t teach. One of those safety measures includes security vestibules, which is an enclosure used to isolate any threat, in every school in the county.” Says Dr. Ford “They have already been in place at the elementary schools and toward the end of the school year they were added into the middle and high schools.” Dr. Ford says before the first day of school, security vestibules will be up and running in every school.    In another safety measure, the school district worked together with the Effingham County Sherriff McDuffie to roll out a new program called tip411, which is a smart phone app used to improve school safety. Dr. Ford says, “Using the free app, anyone can report information concerning bullying, hazing, drug use, suspicious or potentially criminal activity and any issue that may potentially jeopardize the safety of students and the school. A student can anonymously report if a student is talking about hurting himself or others. It is 100 percent anonymous. Once students started realizing it was absolutely anonymous, they started using it and now we even get tips on activities outside of school, which gives us the opportunity to get parents involved.“

Supporting Students    Dr. Ford says seeing students overcome adversity is the most gratifying part of his job. He tells a story, “I dealt with a young man who was struggling, so much so that he dropped out of school. He came to me and asked me to write a letter of recommendation to the US Army. Because I treat all kids with respect and dignity, I wrote that letter. One day, much later, he showed up at the high school with a flag in a box. The flag had flown

 

in Afghanistan, where he had served. He thanked me for not giving up on  him and brought me that flag. “ Dr, Ford says not giving up on kids is key. “Kids travel different roads and we need to support them as individuals. We need to create responsible taxpaying citizens. For me it is a challenge to help a kid  who is struggling and see if we can’t give them hope and see what success feels like. Even the best citizens need support and sometime a kid needs a little extra push.“

Family    Dr. Ford met his wife Deidre  when they were both in the tenth grade. They will celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary on November 20 of this year. He says,”We dated for ten years before our wedding, so we have been together thirty years. “Both are in education, Deidre is currently the Assistant Principal at Marlow Elementary School. They have two sons, Mathew, who is a rising  ophomore, and Josh who is going into seventh grade. They all enjoy spending time at the beach together. Dr. Ford says he likes jogging and fishing but he really loves attending high school sports in his spare time. “I love watching high school sports- football, baseball, cheerleading, volleyball, any sport. And it’s not just athletics- I like chorus, band, Ag events where a student gets to show a livestock they raised- because I enjoy seeing the camaraderie and because I appreciate the amount of effort it takes to perform on a field.”

Full Circle   “Right now, I am in my office which was my fifth grade math classroom!” says Dr. Ford, “So I have indeed come full circle. I feel very blessed and honored to have the opportunity to go to school every day and serve because it is definitely a service position. I am honored to serve the citizens, the students, and the county by contributing to our community.”