HENRY COUNTY, GA – Union Grove High School teacher Debbie Peabody will compete for the title of National SkillsUSA Advisor of the Year at the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Kansas City, Missouri.
Peabody, an architectural/engineering drawing instructor, is eligible for the recognition after being named the SkillsUSA Region 2 Advisor of the year in January. States are grouped into five regions. Region 2 is comprised of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, while also including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Other finalists for the national award hail from Delaware (Region 1), Michigan (Region 3), Oklahoma (Region 4), and California (Region 5).
Tom Smith, Principal of Union Grove High School, saw Peabody’s talents years before he became the leader of the school, when he was a Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) teacher. He shared that Peabody is a “pioneer in the area of Engineering Drawing and Design and Architectural Drafting and Design.”
“Debbie is an educator of children, but just as important, she encourages her students to grow and love the field of architecture,” said Smith. “She celebrates her students’ work every chance she gets.
“Additionally, Debbie has been a role model, mentor, and facilitator for many CTAE teachers in Henry County.”
For 23 years, Peabody has served as a SkillsUSA advisor to students in Henry County and at Union Grove High School since its opening in 2000, while also helping with the SkillsUSA Georgia leadership team. She recently became a SkillsUSA State Certified Trainer.
But before she got into teaching, Peabody said she was working as a drafter for a company that designed the track layout and tunnels for MARTA. After hearing about a drafting instructor opening at Stockbridge High School at the time, she decided to apply, got an interview, and has not looked back since.
“It has been a wonderful career that I would not change for the world,” said Peabody.
According to Principal Smith, Peabody also helped start a job interview fair for all CTAE student eleven years ago. This marquee event has become a highlight for all participants, and approximately 12,000 students have been able to brush up on their interviewing skills over this time period.
Peabody’s passion for helping students was fostered at a young age while growing up in Michigan.
“The closest thing to a student organization when I was growing up was 4-H,” said Peabody.
“I had two wonderful advisors who taught me everything. These two wonderful women, one who was my mother, were patient and understanding while we learned a variety of concepts.”
The traits Peabody notes about her mother and other advisors are the same traits shared by Peabody’s current students, and it was Priscilla Rodriguez who shared her appreciation for her advisor with the state of Georgia while nominating Peabody for Advisor of the Year.
“From the time she introduced herself at the interest meeting, I realized that not only did she have a true passion for SkillsUSA, but that she was also genuinely concerned about the well-being of her students and members,” said Rodriguez in her nomination letter.
“Through her leadership in our chapter, we were able to see her ability to overcome any obstacle, meet any deadline, and tackle any school-wide project all while keeping a radiant smile on her face and making time to reach out to help other teachers and students.”
Peabody shared her shock for the recognition but conveyed she is honored to have been nominated and now make it to the national finals for the Advisor of the Year award.
And she will not be traveling alone to the national conference next week. Nine students from Henry County Schools will be competing in various contests and attending meetings where they will get the opportunity to network with thousands of students from across the nation.
SkillsUSA has a mission to help its members become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible American citizens. It boasts a membership of over 300,000 students and advisors, and the organization has been around since 1965.
The 48th Annual NLSC will welcome over 15,000 attendees made up of students, teachers, and business representatives.
For more information on the conference and SkillsUSA, go to www.skillsusa.org.