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By: Ginger Ashworth

Buford had the honor of recognizing one of our own, Mr Bobby Dubay, a Buford Academy teacher as the 2017/18 Buford City School’s Teacher of the Year.

“I did not grow up, like many, wanting to become a teacher.  I always knew I wanted to impact the lives of others though.” Bobby explained as he recalled the steps that lead him to this great honor.

Bobby had started on a pre-law track when he began college, however towards the end of his undergrad, plans of Public Administration at the local level evolved and on a whim, during the final summer of his undergraduate Bobby became a camp counselor at a summer camp in Tallulah Falls, Georgia.

“There was an excitement about connecting with young people and helping them see the world from a new perspective that sparked something within me.” Bobby exclaimed. “That summer, in many ways, shaped me and led me to the path I am on today.”

Bobby still remembers the moment he decided to become a teacher.  “I bet not many people can say that … prior to completing my senior year,  I remember sitting on my couch thinking about my future and it hit me… TEACH.” 

Currently in his 7th year of teaching, Bobby spent his first two years teaching 3rd grade and the last five in 2nd grade, all of which have been in the Buford City School district.  “If you would have told me, earlier in life that I would be teaching seven and eight year olds, I would have had you checked for a concussion!”

Originally certified in middle school social studies, Bobby completed all his student teaching in middle school.  When Bobby was certified to become a teacher around 2011, most school systems were having to let teachers go.  Bobby however had a friend who was a special education teacher in Hall County that just so happened to be in need of a Special Education Paraprofessional.  “The principal at the school, Robin Gower, suggested I take the certification exam in Early Childhood education to become more marketable.  Mrs. Gower, from Buford also suggested I look into the school system here.”  Buford was one of the few places hiring that year. Joy Davis, the principal at the Academy at that time hired Bobby to teach 3rd grade.

“I was a little nervous at first as most of my experience had been at the middle school level, but I quickly figured out, no matter the age, kids are kids.” Bobby claims the secret formula is always the same, regardless of age is to start with respect, compassion, and love.  Add some laughter and smiles.  Mix all that with a dash of consistent, fair discipline and the result is the foundation for great learning and friendships.

The day Bobby was named Buford’s School System Teacher of the Year,  is the only memory he says that stands out above the many other wonderful memories he has made while being a teacher. “My co-workers kept telling me to go out and celebrate, I jokingly told them my whole life is a celebration.”  There was a truth in that statement.  “My experiences in the classroom with all my students over all the years can only be described as a celebration.”

Not only is Bobby celebrating his new career achievements, he will also be celebrating his upcoming marriage, planned this summer, to his fiance, Brooke, who also teaches 2nd grade, in another district.  “We actually met when she was student teaching at Buford Academy.” Bobby says Brooke is a huge Disney fan and they got engaged beside Snow White’s castle at Disneyland in California this past summer.  “She threw a coin in Snow White’s wishing well and I said, I hope this is what you wished for… as I proposed.” 

Before concluding our interview, Bobby made one last statement “Wow, this great honor is incredibly humbling and it honestly hasn’t even begun to sink in”.  Bobby says any and all his successes have been possible because of those around him who have believed in him.   “My mother and late grandmother always believed in me.  My fiancé believes in me.  My amazing teaching partner, Mandie Johnson, believes in me.   My 2nd grade team believes in me.  My principal, Kaleen Pulley, believes in me – she was telling people she just knew that I’d won the district teacher of the year hours before it was announced”. Bobby says that so many kids have come up to him saying congratulations.  “All I can tell them is, I couldn’t have done it with YOU.  It is the students that inspired me.”

Congratulations Mr. Bobby Dubay!  Thank you for your dedication to shaping the minds of our Community’s future leaders.

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