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Pioneer RESA’s Annual “Pioneers in Education” Awards Ceremony

Left to Right, Front Row: Pioneer RESA Executive Director Justin Old and Superintendent Michael Gwatney. Back Row: Thomas Arp, Morgan Arp, and Christie Gribble.

By Dr. Michael Gwatney, Superintendent Fannin County Schools

The Pioneer Regional Service Agency (RESA) held its annual “Pioneers in Education” awards ceremony last Friday, November 1. These awards are presented by Pioneer RESA to individuals who go “above and beyond” to make a difference in education. Congratulations to Retired Superintendent Morgan B. Arp for being the FCSS’s 2019 recipient of this prestigious award.

Mr. Arp graduated from East Fannin High School in 1966. He went on to earn degrees at Piedmont College, the University of Georgia, and Lincoln Memorial University. He was elected Superintendent in 1992 and served in the position until his retirement in 2002. Mr. Arp had many accomplishments, including the start of an initiative to provide a free breakfast each day to every student in the FCSS.

He exhibited care not only for the students but also for the faculty and staff; he began a retirement match for classified personnel to supplement their regular benefits. Establishing the district’s technology and school resource officer programs were also among his achievements.

Mr. Arp was instrumental in getting the first Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) passed.

SPLOST was a game changer; the FCSS has always had – and still has – great employees, but with SPLOST, the district now has better resources.

He was a founder of the Mountain Education Charter (MEC) Board and helped start it for those students needing a second chance to earn a high school education. All of these initiatives and programs are still in place today. After retirement from the FCSS, Mr. Arp continued to serve the field of education with the Georgia Accrediting Commission.

According to Superintendent Gwatney, “Mr. Arp was Superintendent while I was a paraprofessional, a teacher, and a new administrator. Each of these roles allowed me to see him in a different way. Through it all, Mr. Arp proved to be a strong leader whom I respected — and still do today. A good leader is also a teacher, and I learned from him.

He knew the FCSS and led it with a clear vision. He acted professionally, and he kept improvement in focus and at the forefront of our work. His motto was straightforward and appropriate: ‘School is for kids.’ Mr. Arp’s legacy is honorable and will impact generations to come. Congratulations, Mr. Arp!”

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