COVINGTON, Ga. - It’s not every day the school superintendent shows up to speak to your class. Nevertheless, on Dec. 6, Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey was on a mission to meet the spectacular students in Ms. Jenny Ley’s fifth-grade class to congratulate them on a job well done.
Back in early October, Ley and her class were on the playground enjoying some outdoor time when the unthinkable happened—Ley suffered a medical emergency. Many children—and even adults for that matter—would have panicked given the situation but the students in Ley’s class worked together to get help for their ailing teacher.
While some of the students tended to Ley on the playground, another grabbed her radio and immediately called for help to anyone who might be listening.
“We heard the call for help and knew something was very wrong,” Terran Newman, principal of South Salem Elementary, said. “We headed for the playground right away.”
As school administrators were rushing to the playground, other students saw the school custodian open an outside door and immediately ran to ask for help.
“They just did a phenomenal job,” Newman said. “They remained calm and helped their teacher and as a result, we were able to provide assistance to her. I am so proud of each and every one of them. It was definitely a proud principal moment.”
Fortunately, Ley had a speedy recovery and was able to return to school and her very special class.
When Fuhrey heard what the students had done, she made plans to not only meet them in person but also present them with her very own Superintendent’s Coin of Distinction, which is only awarded to students and employees who exemplify greatness by going above and beyond.
“I wanted to stop by today because I know that you guys are a super, special class and you did an amazing thing to support your teacher when she needed your help,” Fuhrey said to the students during her surprise visit. “In the military, when you do something that is above and beyond, something that’s really fantastic…not just good, good is not good enough…when you do something great, the boss in the military has special coins that they give to members of the military. If you were to be in the Air Force and you did something amazing, fantastic, something extraordinary, the commander would give you a coin that symbolizes you are a very special class of person because not many people in the world have that coin. I have a superintendent’s coin that I would like to give to you – you are among the very small, small percentage of people who get the Superintendent’s Coin of. It signifies and symbolizes how extraordinary you are, not just as students but also as people. I know someday when you grow up you are going to do some special, fantastic things. I want you to have this coin to keep with you to have for your whole life.”
Fuhrey noted that only two other NCSS students have ever received a coin of distinction. She further explained that American civil rights legend, the late Dr. Frederic Douglas Reese was also a past recipient of the coin.
“That’s how elite you are. That’s how special you are. It only goes to people like that,” Fuhrey said. “So congratulations to you because you are just that special. I hope you will take this coin and cherish it and keep it in a special place that reminds you of just how special you are and just how unique you are and just how different you are from any other class of students.”
“Thank you to everybody that helped me that day,” Ley, who teared up as Fuhrey distributed coins to the students, said. “I appreciate it. You all are amazing. I tell you that all the time but you are absolutely amazing and I love you.”
“This is a very special moment,” Newman said. “To have the school superintendent come out and personally recognize the students means so much. We’re all very proud of Ms. Ley’s class. They are a wonderful group of students who came through for their teacher when she needed them the most.”