With generations of medical personnel molded in his classrooms, Sam Stone taught until his retirement day.
“It’s kind of like pulling all the parts together, so when they graduate, they are a complete package,” Stone said of his passion for teaching. “I guess it’s personally rewarding to see them go from one level to the next level, and once they graduate, then they’re able to really make a difference out there, make a difference in people’s lives.”
Stone’s 34-year career at Lanier Technical College will continue part time, as he may continue some teaching, consulting and other projects connected to emergency medicine. He retired at the end of September.
“People aren’t just buying in to being part of Lanier Tech. They’re buying in to being part of Sam Stone,” said Jason Grady, who considered Stone a mentor and now works as Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s regional ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction coordinator.
Before coming to Lanier Tech in 1984, Stone had taught sciences — chemistry, anatomy and physiology — at Social Circle High School and George Walton High School but was looking to work during the summer months. He was advised of some EMT positions at a local hospital, as he had taken an elective EMT course as a senior in college.
“When I came in ’84, there were like three paramedics in Hall County. One program had been taught prior to me coming here that was ... at the medical center, and I then came here and finished the first program that was taught at Lanier Tech,” said Stone, who started teaching in Athens in 1980 and also trained as a paramedic.
Stone said he considered the relationship with Northeast Georgia Medical Center part of a “perfect environment for education.”
“The thing that makes our program probably one of the strongest if not the strongest is our clinical, and our clinical is hospital-wise done at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. And that’s really the big success of the program is the collaboration we have at the medical center, and the nurses and the doctors that teach them,” Stone said.
Grady lauded Stone’s “dedication and passion to not only health care and emergency medicine but just to the individual student, to make sure they learn and are able to function at the highest level possible, which in turn affects so many lives.”
The depth of the education provided and the systems in place for the program have produced paramedics of the highest order, Grady said.
“He has absolutely revolutionized the way EMS education has been taught throughout the state,” he said.
Even when teaching five days a week, Stone was still working on the weekends as a paramedic.
“I enjoyed it that much, and it was also something to keep my skills and my knowledge up,” Stone said.
This continued until he and wife Susan started a family, which in itself is a family affair in the medical field. His daughter Jenna Stone is a registered nurse at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, and his son Jared Stone works in occupational therapy in Charlotte, N.C.
“We always support each other in our jobs. She’s come in and taught different parts of the class before,” Sam Stone said of his wife, who works in nursing quality.
Stone said he has been “blessed by having good people to teach,” having largely trained the paramedic staff now belonging to Hall County Fire Services.
“His longevity there shows his commitment to the community. He has now taught multiple generations of people,” Grady said.
He also spent his recent years designing the new campus facility at Ga. 365 and Howard Road, which will include a large simulation lab.
“It’s going to be state of the art. It’s going to be a remarkable facility,” he said.
Though he still plans to continue some work in this field, Stone said he would enjoy some traveling: Italy, Norway and around the country.
As a longtime University of Georgia football fan, he may start venturing to more away games.