It has been said that nothing great can be accomplish without passion. It’s a motivating force that drives each of us to be our best. For Kari Neal, an art teacher at Buford Elementary and the 2012 Buford City Schools Teacher of the Year, a passion for art is what inspired her to become an educator and prompts her to encourage her students to produce great works of art each day.
“I became a teacher because I’m passionate about art and I wanted to be able share that with others. When my students tell me they love art and want to be an art teacher when they grow up I know I’m making a difference and that really means a lot,” says Neal.
Because Buford Elementary is only made up of kindergarten and first grade levels, students are able to develop one-on-one relationships with their teachers. The teacher-student connection helps students grow as individuals and reach their academic goals. “Our school offers a close-knit atmosphere, so you feel as if you’re part of a huge family. Everyone at Buford Elementary supports each other,” she says.
In Neal’s classroom, she wants to see her students succeed in the artwork they create. “Most of the art projects I do with my students are abstract. This allows everyone to succeed and each piece of art looks different. People are always blown away by the work my students do. I have very high expectations and they always rise to the occasion.”
So how does Neal keep her students engaged in art? “I’m fun and energetic. I’m never afraid to get silly to help my students learn.” She is also advancing her own education. This past June, she earned her specialist degree in Teaching Leadership from Piedmont College and an online English as a Second Language (ESL) certification.
Already excited for next school year, Neal is brainstorming new project ideas for her students. “I’m going to be starting an art club and exploring some new projects with my students like silk screen printmaking. Every year I grow as an educator because I keep learning innovative ways to teach,” she says.
Buford City Schools Highlights
Buford City Schools is comprised of four schools: Buford Elementary (grades K-1) Buford Academy (grades 2-5) Buford Middle School (grades 6-8) Buford High School (grades 9-12).
Current enrollment is approximately 3650.
Buford Elementary School serves close to 600 kindergarten and first grade students who come from culturally and economically diverse backgrounds. Due to the school’s incredible test scores, Buford Elementary is a Title I Distinguished School, and has been for eight consecutive years.
Buford Academy is a Title I School with an enrollment of almost 1,150 students in grades two through five.
- All Pro Dads – Each of the five meetings this year was attended by approximately 500 children and dads
- AYP for nine consecutive years
- Significant increases in Exceeds category on CRCT in every content area
Buford Middle School recognizes the unique needs of children in the middle grades. The school’s current enrollment in grades six through eight is approximately 850.
Highlights for the 2011-2012 school year:
- Platinum Award for Greatest Gains in Achievement
- AYP for eight consecutive years
- Writing score increases in exceeds category
Buford High School serves grades nine through twelve with an enrollment of 980 students. The 2011-2012 school year yielded numerous accomplishments in academics, fine arts, athletics and community service.
- State Championship in Softball – Fifth consecutive year
- State Championship in Literary – Fourth consecutive year
- State Championship in One Act Play
- Earned 3 of 5 AP Honor School designations – AP Merit Award, AP STEM Award, and AP STEM Achievement School Award
- Gold Award for Outstanding Student Achievement
Buford City Schools 2012-2013 School Calendar
Pre-Planning for Teachers (K-12) July 31-August 2
Open House (4:00pm to 6:00pm) August 1
First Day of School August 3
Early Release Day / Professional Learning Day (K-12) August 31
Labor Day Holiday September 3
End of First Quarter (46 days) October 8
Fall Festival October 11
Student Holiday (Faculty/Staff Professional Learning Day) October 12
Fall Holiday October 15
Early Release Day / Parent Conference (K-12) October 18
Early Release Day / Homecoming (K-12) October 19
Thanksgiving Break November 19-23
End of First Semester (92 days) December 20
Student Holiday (Faculty/Staff Professional Learning Day) December 21
Winter Break December 24-January 4
Student Holiday (Faculty/Staff Professional Learning Day) January 7
Second Semester Begins January 8
MLK Holiday January 21
Winter Holidays February 18-20
Snow Make-up Day #1 February 20
Snow Make-up Day #2 February 19
End of Third Quarter (43 days) \ March 13
Student Holidays (Faculty/Staff Professional Learning Days) March 14 & 15
Early Release Days / Parent Conferences (K-12) March 21 & 22
Spring Break April 8-12
End of School/BHS Graduation (180 days) May 24
Memorial Day Holiday May 27
**Post-Planning for Teachers (K-12) May 28 & 29
**May 30 & 31 are makeup days for teachers if necessary.
*Early Release Days are subject to change.