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Schools event honors local superintendent, reporter
Jessica Jordan-newMug
Jessica Jordan

Paul Shaw, superintendent of White County Schools, was chosen Friday as Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia School Boards Association.

The award was given during a luncheon at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel near Atlanta.

Times education reporter Jessica Jordan also was honored during the event with a Beacon Award for her coverage of area schools.

Shaw has been the superintendent of White County schools for 10 years and has helped the system create better opportunities for students even during times of economic hardship.

Out of 180 school districts statewide, Shaw was one of four finalists for the GSBA Superintendent of the Year honor.

"I truly believe all superintendents should be honored because they all work really hard," he said. "It’s important to have leadership in a district, but it takes an entire community for a school district to be successful, and the citizens of White County are behind us. We’ve also got great bus drivers, secretaries, teachers and parapros. It’s a joy to come to work."

The Beacon Award recognizes print and electronic media representatives or organizations whose coverage has created understanding of public education issues. A total of eight journalists from print, radio and television were honored, nominees approved by the board of education.

Jordan, 25, took over the education beat at The Times in 2008 after joining the newsroom staff in 2007. The Columbia, S.C., native is a 2007 honor graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in magazine journalism.

"Jessica has done an exemplary job of covering education for The Times, starting in the middle of the Gainesville city schools’ financial crisis last year," Executive Editor Mitch Clarke said. "Since then, she has mastered the beat, writing about complex issues in easy-to-understand ways. She’s an outstanding reporter, and I’m thrilled to have her as part of our team. She richly deserves this accolade."

"I am one of many journalists at The Times who dedicates each day to connecting our readers with their local governments," Jordan said. "It is inspiring to report on the achievements and challenges of the students and educators in Gainesville and Hall County. I have great respect for the teachers and school leaders who are unwavering in their commitment to lead children into a bright future. Thank you for sharing your stories with me."

Georgia schools Superintendent Kathy Cox spoke at the event and said the state’s schools will have a "pretty rocky couple of years" before state education funding improves.

Cox said she expects to have to cut up to $39 million more from school funding before the fiscal year ends June 30. That would be painful for the state’s school districts, which already have lost millions in funding as the state grapples with the worst fiscal crisis in decades.

It could mean more layoffs, more furlough days and even larger classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.