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Gillis-Packer: Rockdale public schools raise the bar
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Five years ago in Dallas, I finished eighth grade anxious to finally be in high school. Unfortunately, it was not for the higher learning; it was about the status and the freedom.

To be honest, up until that point, school had little to do with an actual education for me.

In fact, I didn't know my multiplications table, I couldn't do the most basic algebra and I still didn't know how to use a comma. But what was the point? No one around me seemed to value education. Earning good grades didn't make me more popular; they weren't rewarded by my parents, and my teachers had become so accustomed to students doing poorly they didn't expect more.

So there I was, enjoying the summer and waiting to become a freshman at North Crowley High, just outside of Dallas. But life had different plans for me. That summer, I made the move here to Conyers to live with my dad, and four years ago, I walked the halls of Heritage High School for the first time as a frightened freshman.

Those four years at Heritage proved to be the most important of my life because I was finally able to become the student that was always inside of me. I was introduced to teachers whose passion for teaching excited me and their high expectations drove me to be better. I had counselors that provided me with the resources I needed to help with my studies. And with so many extracurricular activities to get involved in I was in a place conducive to me being the best me I could become.

Because of this environment I can say that in the fall I will be attending Harvard University. I am a product of a public school in a county that raises the bar and relentlessly helps students go above and beyond it.

My experience in the Rockdale County Public School System has been invaluable. I am just a single example of what a strong educational foundation can create.

Dominique Gillis-Packer is a Heritage High School senior and has accepted a football scholarship to Harvard University.