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February 26, 2014

School superintendent perseveres to break barriers

‘I always feel good when I’m able to give back'

MILLEDGEVILLE —

The first African American woman to serve as superintendent for Baldwin County Schools, Geneva Braziel never deterred from her path toward success because she was determined to make a difference in the lives of young learners.

“Growing up, a professional career was not something that you really envisioned because you didn’t really see that around the community you grew up in, but you can see your environment and know that you wanted to do better,” she said. “Sometimes it was really hard because we didn’t have resources that some of the other kids may have had. My parents always pushed me to do better than what they did, and even though they weren’t college graduates, their strong work ethic and commitment has really gotten me to where I am now.”

A Milledgeville native, Braziel attended public schools, graduating from Baldwin High School in 1990. She earned a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education from Georgia College in 1994.

“Originally out of high school, I wanted to be a fashion designer and merchandiser. My family convinced me to attend Georgia College where I majored in sociology,” she said. “Then I decided I wanted to be a school counselor, and back at that time, you couldn’t be a counselor without teaching, so that’s why I decided to get my teaching degree in middle grades education.”

Braziel kicked off her education career at Boddie Middle School in 1994 as a sixth grade science teacher. While educating middle-schoolers, Braziel pursued a master’s degree in school counseling from Fort Valley State University, which she earned in 1998. She transitioned to Baldwin High to work as a counselor in 1999.

“The most disheartening part of the job is when you’re not able to reach a child and get that child to where they need to be because you do want to see every child be successful,” she said. “Kids today have so many more resources than we’ve ever had, right at their fingertips. In today’s world, they want immediate gratification, but it doesn’t always work that way; you have to be patient and persistent. Those immediate sacrifices will make for a brighter future.”

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