COVINGTON — The Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce announced that Eastridge Community Church-Jackson Lake Campus has been named the 2019 NCSS Partner in Education of the Year.

Eastridge Community Church-Jackson Lake Campus is a partner in education with Heard-Mixon Elementary School and was nominated by school Principal Marquita Wilkins for the yearly award. She said Eastridge employees partnered with the school “in both spirit and body by meeting many of the school family’s material and emotional needs.”

According to Wilkins, parking is a major issue at the school on the day of Open House but Eastridge staff completely eliminated that problem by allowing teachers to park at their facility. Not only that, they also surprised the staff by providing transportation at 6:30 a.m. both to and from the buildings in the rain.

And Eastridge staff makes it a point of always being on hand to support and celebrate Heard-Mixon students’ accomplishments. For example, during the fifth-grade completion ceremony, Eastridge provided their new facility for parents and students to celebrate in a comfortable environment.

“The students were welcomed with open arms and provided numerous activities while they waited for the ceremony to begin,” Wilkins said. “And after the ceremony concluded, Eastridge staff provided water and snacks for the students to enjoy.”

The church, however, makes its greatest impact by giving of their time to mentor students one hour per week—something they have routinely done over the past two years. Through their time and generosity, staff at Eastridge have truly made a difference at the school in a relatively short period of time.

When presenting the award, Newton County Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Staffins, stated, “It makes me so proud to know that we have school partners like this in our community. This partnership truly demonstrates that you do not have to be a big business with deep pockets and numerous employees to make a huge impact in our schools. Any business or organization, no matter how big or small, has the ability to make a difference to the children and staff in our schools.”

“We are honored and excited to receive this award,” said Gary Thompson, pastor of Eastridge Community Church-Jackson Campus. “Our people serve and are generous and it’s been super exciting. Through mentoring and offering our building, providing Christmas for kids, and being there for teachers and shuttling teachers, they are just small tokens—things we can do to serve. We are a deeply flawed church led by a tremendously flawed staff yet when we serve and we are generous God does the supernatural.”

“Our partners in education do amazing things every day in support of our students and staff and Eastridge Community Church is but one shining example,” said Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County School System. “They have truly embraced the meaning of partnership and have provided their gifts, their time, and their love to the students and staff at Heard-Mixon Elementary School. We are so thankful to have partners like Eastridge Community Church in our community and I congratulate them on being named the 2019 Newton County School System Partner of the Year.”

Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

Stay Informed