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From American history to student scheduling
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Gene Gaillard, registrar at Newton High School, spends most of his day huddled in front of his computer surrounded by paper stacks of important student information.

Although his position keeps him in his office a majority of the time, he still occasionally meets with students as more of counselor rather than an academic scheduling adviser.

 "To my knowledge, I'm the only one left in the building that helped open this building," Gaillard said.

More than 30 years ago, Gaillard began his tenure at Newton High as an American history teacher.

As a graduating senior at Mercer University, Gaillard said he had no idea what career he wanted to pursue.

 "That was common years ago," Gaillard said, "but now we try to get kids thinking about it in ninth grade."

 He decided as a camp counselor that summer that he wanted to work with young people. During his first year teaching, he said he learned the difference between being a camp counselor and a teacher was that children want to be at camp and they don't always want to be in a classroom.

 He taught for 12 years before becoming registrar.

 Early into his teaching career, an assistant principal approached Gaillard and encouraged him to take up the path toward becoming a school administrator.

 Two weeks later, Gaillard resolved that was not a path he wanted to follow.

"I'm not heavy handed enough to deal with that kind of work," Gaillard said of the discipline principals have to administer.

 Now he spends his days working primarily with receptionists and guidance counselors instead of students. His principal duty as registrar is, of course, scheduling students in the classes they need to graduate or which they request.

 He said scheduling is the easy part of his job.

 Formatting the transcripts of transfer students to match the Newton County template and data reporting required by the federal 2001 No Child Left Behind Act are the challenging aspects of his job because of the time they consume.

 According to Gaillard, data reporting has become more difficult with the advent of the NCLB act because numbers are scrutinized to see if schools meet Adequate Yearly Progress mandated by the act.

Gaillard also describes himself as Newton High's "can-do man."

"Any time anybody needs something," Gaillard said, "they come to me."

Parents also seek out Gaillard, he said, because they may have had his class when they were in high school and do not recognize any names on the staff directory.

"These hard-headed boys especially need a person to talk to from time to time," Gaillard said.

He said he is supportive when students are doing well but will be direct when a student's behavior needs to be modified.

Gaillard keeps several letters on file written to him by students he has counseled, thanking him for his guidance.

He said student well-being is the primary goal everyone who works in a school should have.

"The best thing about working in a school, hands down, is working with the kids," Gaillard said, "everything else pales in comparison to that."