The Union Recorder

June 28, 2013

Former Teacher of the Year leaves behind legacy

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Creekside Elementary School family and the local community are grieving the loss of an inspirational and enthusiastic educator who helped kindergartners grab the love of learning while having “a smile on her face and plenty of pep in her step.”

Debra Lynn “Debbie” Newberry Amason called Milledgeville home for many years and spent nearly 30 years dedicating her life to her passion for teaching young learners.

“[Debbie] was an incredible educator. She was always enthusiastic about her job, and she exuded love for her students,” said Creekside music teacher Leanne Benson who worked alongside Amason five years. 

Amason loved music and the arts and has held the title of Creekside’s Teacher of the Year multiple times, Benson said.

“It’s people like her who make Creekside such a wonderful place to call my work home and because of her friendly, welcoming nature, Creekside truly is like a family,” Benson said. “And as any family misses a loved one, she will be greatly missed by her Creekside family. The halls will not seem the same without her sing-songy “good morning’ to look forward to. She was so full of life and joy that It’s hard to believe she’s passed.”

“Miss Debbie” passed Thursday from an apparent heart attack at age 50. 

Her Facebook page flooded Wednesday with words of prayers and memorable stories from family, friends, fellow educators, former students and individuals whose lives and hearts Amason influenced.

Amason is described as a “vibrant human being” and was never “without her million dollar smile.” Creekside second-grade teacher Rebecca Giles shared on Facebook that “we’ve seen Debbie dress up as Mr. Peanut, a pilgrim lady and even the Cat in The Hat, but I bet her favorite get-up is the angel wings she got to put on.”

Erin Smith, also a fellow Creekside second-grade teacher, had the privilege of observing Amason teach while she was in college.

“I was in awe, at that time, of her energy and focus on her students. Luckily, when I began my teaching career, I was able to teach with Debbie, and I was still amazed by her love and interest in her students. Many teachers loose their joy and excitement after years of teaching, but Debbie never tired of the wonderment of her students,” Smith said. “I’ve spent my 16 years of teaching seeing Debbie almost daily and continued to be amazed and encouraged by her energy and happy spirit. Debbie has impacted thousands of children and adults during her brief time with us and her love of education and children will be felt for years to come.”

A native of Elgin, Ill., Amason graduated from Newton High School in 1980 and pursued her education further at Truett-McConnell, a Southern Baptist four-year college in Cleveland, Ga., where she graduated in 1982. She earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Georgia College in 1985.

Amason began her teaching career at the Wilkinson County Board of Education where she worked until moving to Baldwin County schools in 1990.

She taught local kindergarten students for more than 20 years, first at West End Elementary and then at Creekside Elementary, which replaced West End and Northside Elementary when the two schools merged in 1999.

Amason worked tirelessly as Creekside’s Relay for Life school coordinator as well as working on school and county committees. Her love and dedication to her teaching profession earned her two Baldwin County Teacher of the Year titles.

She was preceded in death by her father, Herbert Newberry, and was a member of Hardwick Baptist Church.

Survivors include two sons, Clint Amason and Ethan Amason, both of Milledgeville; her mother, Alice Newberry of Milledgeville; two brothers Michael Newberry and James Newberry; and a special friend Tony Wells of Milledgeville. 

The family will receive friends Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Moores Funeral Home & Crematory. 

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Hardwick Baptist Church with the Rev. Bill Kitchen officiating. Burial will follow at Baldwin Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made in her honor to Creekside Elementary School, Playground and Grounds Beautification, 372 Blandy Road N.W., Milledgeville, Ga. 31061.

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