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"Miss Polly" Is An Indian Star
Friday, 14 September 2012

September 14--  One of Vidalia's beloved senior citizens is officially an "Indian Star" for her volunteer work on behalf of special education students at Vidalia High School.

ImageThe Vidalia school board presented the award to Polly Rushton for her 38 years of service to the school.  "Miss Polly is a fixture at Vidalia High School and has been for some time.  She's as much a part of the climate and culture in that building as anyone.  She donates an inordinate amount of time, money and effort to our special needs children," said School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox in presenting the award.

Miss Polly was nominated for the award by special education teacher Bettina Linden, who wrote:

"I have the honor of introducing Ms. Polly Rushton to you as this month’s recipient of the Indian Star award of the Vidalia-City School System. 

Ms. Polly is an accomplished artist who illustrates among other things a couple of different lines of children’s books.  She is originally a native of Alabama where she studied Art at Troy-State University before moving to Vidalia as a bride and raising a family.

Ms. Polly has been supporting the special needs students in this school system for about 50 years.  She was an assistant to the resource room teacher starting at the elementary school level and moved up to the higher grades over the decades with the teacher. She became a fixture in the lives of many students with challenging physical and mental disabilities. Over the years, a lot of these students , even after they graduated from high school and moved on to assisted living and working facilities, still keep in touch with ‘their’ Ms.Polly by calling her, visiting her, or writing her to let her know how they are doing and what is going on in their lives.

Ms. Polly has assisted with art instruction for the resource room students at Vidalia High School by providing meaningful and effective materials and subjects for the students to work on.  Besides learning about color and form, the students’ fine motor skills are honed through the assignments she prepares for the class.  Many of the students have made great progress in their skills through these assignments.  Ms. Polly provides all the materials necessary out of her own funds, preparing an art lesson and project for every Friday of the school year, year after year.  Besides that, she supplies snacks for the resource room students on a daily basis, and often helps a student with the final assignment during the last period of the school day so that everybody can get ready for the arrival of the special needs bus.  The students love their Ms.Polly, and start asking by about lunch time, “Is Ms. Polly coming today?”

Besides supplying all the materials needed for the art projects and the snacks, Ms. Polly also provides other classroom necessities which are greatly appreciated during the time of financial constraints on the funds available to teachers. She also secures a contribution from the Lions Club every December to take the high school resource room students to Wal-Mart to purchase Christmas presents, thus ending the year on a high note for our students.

All the wonderful things Ms.Polly has done over the years for the students and the teacher and parapros in the special needs resource classroom cannot be listed in this short tribute, but to all of us who know her personally, she is just the Angel of Vidalia."

Meanwhile, J.R. Trippe Middle School and the Toombs County Boys and Girls Club are partnering to provide math tutoring.  School Principal Gwen Warren says teachers will go to the club after school to help prepare middle school students for high school math.

"We have difficulty getting students who need extra help to stay after school because of transportation problems.  There are a large number of our students who go to the Boys and Girls Club and the Club provides transportation for them.  I talked with Tonjai Gaffney at the Boys and Girls Club and she was gracious to provide us space and time for us to send certified teachers to tutor the students in the afternoon," Warren said.

Tutoring will also be offered at the school, the principal says.

 
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