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Butler chorus instructor is Richmond County Teacher of the Year

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Ladell Fortune will never be the teacher who is forgotten as soon as his students complete his class.

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Richmond County Teacher of the Year Ladell Fortune of Butler High School is led up to the podium by one of his former high school teachers, Lounelle Beacher, after he won the award during a banquet Monday night.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Richmond County Teacher of the Year Ladell Fortune of Butler High School is led up to the podium by one of his former high school teachers, Lounelle Beacher, after he won the award during a banquet Monday night.

With his outgoing personality, bright bow ties and caring heart, students say the George P. Butler High School chorus teacher has left a lasting impression on young people.

“He’s like a father to me and a lot of others, too,” said former student Demichael Givens, 22. “It’s never a dull moment in his class. He’s creative, he has all these different ideas and he makes learning fun.”

That touch is what set Fortune apart from 56 other top educators in the district as he was named Monday the 2012 Richmond County Teacher of the Year.

The banquet was also a chance for district employees to thank all educators for what they do for students. The 57 individual school teachers of the year received plaques and recognition and a personal thanks from Superintendent Frank Roberson, who has been on medical leave since February.

Roberson made his first school-related appearance since falling ill to thank the teachers for their work.

He reminded the crowd there is no job more important than that of a teacher and said the talent in Richmond County has the ability to improve student achievement.

“I envision this school system to be one of the best in this region,” Roberson said. “I envision that happening in a very short period of time. ... I know that the (adequate yearly progress) results may have been a bit discouraging, but that’s temporary. Say that to the person next to you. That’s temporary.”

As Acting Superintendent James Whitson read Fortune’s name to the packed banquet hall at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, Fortune sprang from his chair, jumped around the room and held his hands over his head in disbelief.

“This honor is not a dream come true, it’s something bigger than that,” Fortune told the crowd. “This honor is confirmation that I have been called to this profession to make a difference.”

Fortune, 31, has been the choral director at Butler since 2004 and has led choirs to first-place finishes in competitions and top ratings. He is a product of Richmond County, as he attended school in Augusta and graduated from Butler in 1998.

Along with a litany of prizes that come with being the district’s Teacher of the Year, Fortune received a 2012 C250 Mercedes Benz from the Augusta dealership to be used for up to one year.

Despite all the honors, Fortune said the best part will be sharing the news with his students on Tuesday.

“I cannot wait to get to my kids tomorrow and tell them,” he said.

If there’s anything that can inspire teachers to do more for students, it is striving for the title of Teacher of the Year, according to the 2011 recipient Traci Cooper.

Cooper said everything will change now for Fortune. The honor brings recognition but also a push to do more.

“It increased my passion, and it was like new energy to the profession,” Cooper said. “My students felt like they were superstars, and my colleagues felt inspired, too.”

Fortune said he will continue working to touch students’ lives and inspire them to pass encouragement along to others.

“I get to play a vital role in these kids lives, and that’s amazing,” Fortune said. “I’m a product of Richmond County, and now this is just coming full circle.”

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 11/08/11 - 03:31 am
KUDOS to Mr. Fortune and the

KUDOS to Mr. Fortune and the other outstanding RCSS teachers he represents.

CONGRATS also to Lounelle Beacher on the accomplishment of one of her former students.

GREAT to see a photo of Dr. Roberson at the podium at the awards ceremony. GET BACK soon, Dr. Roberson. You are missed.

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 11/08/11 - 03:36 am
KUDOS to the RCSS and its

KUDOS to the RCSS and its parent RCBOE for putting on a first-class awards ceremony.

Momma2051 11/08/11 - 06:34 am
Mr. Fortune has always been

Mr. Fortune has always been preparing for this day he just didn't know it.
He has a gift and now he truly knows that. I asked him to stay at Butler when he wanted to quit and go elsewhere. I am glad he stayed. Students need a teacher like him to give them inspiration. And he has get up and go. He is a hard working teacher and demands the best from his children. He taught my daughter Shalynn.

Justin4466 11/08/11 - 07:40 am
Well deserved to a great

Well deserved to a great professional not only in the educational community but throughout the surrounding area. Once a year he imparts excellence in music in Burke County. Congratulations!

formerlhs 11/08/11 - 09:17 am
Are you telling me that the

Are you telling me that the best teacher Richmond County has is a chorus teacher. That may explain Richmond County's grade scores. Nothing against Mr. Fortune, I'm sure he is good at what he does.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/08/11 - 09:22 am
That's a thought-provoking

That's a thought-provoking post, Former. I guess since they give this award out every year they spread the disciplines around. You can't give the award only to math and reading teachers.

Cadence 11/08/11 - 12:32 pm
Ladell is a fantastic teacher

Ladell is a fantastic teacher and a great person. Teaching is teaching, guys, and it takes the same skills, drive, education and ability to teach Chorus or Math or English. Often, music teachers are pressed into teaching other disciplines and it can either be a disaster or proof that a teacher of excellence is such regardless of the field. This award is richly deserved.

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