Three long-term employees, Dewayne Brown, Ava Johnson and Melanie Johnson, will soon end their employment with Troup Independent School District after a combined 95 years with the district and 116 years in education.
“I was the superintendent of Troup ISD for nearly 12 years,” stated Dr. Gene W. Whitsell. “During that time I hired many teachers and staff members. Dewayne Brown, Ava Johnson and Melanie Johnson are all three included in that group. Their support of the district’s students and staff has continued for more than 30 years. That is a rare commitment and they should all three be proud of their service.”
Dewayne Brown has served TISD for 33 years, beginning his tenure in 1985 as Troup High School principal. Prior to his association with TISD, he had been employed at Chapel Hill ISD for 11 years working as a vocational teacher, assistant principal and vocational administrator.
After serving 10 years as THS principal, Brown became the first Executive Director of Support Services for TISD. Though his title was Director of Support Services when Brown accepted the post in 1995, the name was changed in 2001.
Brown’s responsibilities have included overseeing day-to-day operations of the grounds, maintenance, transportation and food services for the district. The position also involves working with architects and construction companies as needed to complete any building projects.
“When Dewayne retires, TISD will lose an individual who has played an integral part in the growth of our district,” observed Shannon Capps, TISD Executive Director of Technology and Library Services. “From his role as high school principal to his current role as executive director of support services, Dewayne has impacted our students and teachers. He has worked diligently to provide for their instructional needs as well as their physical needs. He has been instrumental in the renovation of all three of our campuses, making sure that we have the classrooms needed to accommodate our growth over the years. He has worked hard to make sure our students are safely transported to school each day and that they have food to eat. From the field house to the Ag farm, from the bus barn to the cafeterias, from elementary to high school and everything in between, he has touched many lives during his tenure at TISD and will leave behind a legacy that will benefit generations of students and future teachers in years to come.”
Brown commented on his own retirement and the satisfaction he has received through his involvement with the school district.
“It has been my pleasure to serve 10 years as Troup High School principal and 23 years as Executive Director of Support Services,” Brown stated. “During these years, I have observed many changes and improvements. Troup ISD has been a great place to work. I have been blessed to have worked with some wonderful administrative staff, teachers, students, auxiliary staff, parents and board members. The last 23 years I have had the opportunity to be part of the building and facility improvements throughout the district. I am proud to say that I have spent the majority of my 43-year career serving at Troup ISD.”
Besides commenting on his years with TISD, Brown briefly stated how he would be spending his retirement.
“In the future, I plan to spend more time with my grandchildren, serving my church and working on the many projects around my farm,” Brown said. “I will surely miss the people I work with each day.”
Melanie Johnson is leaving her position as Troup Elementary School principal after 30 years with TISD. She worked as a first- and second-grade teacher from 1985-1988 in two other school districts before hiring on in Troup. She taught first- and second-grade students before becoming the elementary reading coach, the dean of students and assistant principal and eventually principal at Troup Elementary.
“She [Melanie] was a wonderful teacher, reading coach, assistant principal and principal,” commented Amy Ledford. “She loves her students and wants each and every one of them to be successful. Mrs. Johnson is caring, committed and has always strove to see that Troup Elementary provides a safe a nurturing environment. She is always able to see the good in ever one and in every situation. The impact of her leadership will continue on even in her absence.”
Ledford, who is currently assistant principal, will be taking the reins of leadership as she steps into the position of principal at Troup Elementary following Johnson’s departure.
“I have spent the past 30 years at Troup Elementary and leaving this campus will be bittersweet,” Johnson said. “I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had both as a teacher and an administrator in this district. Troup Elementary is a special place and will always be a part of me. It is where I was nurtured as a child and where I have been blessed to serve as an educator.”
Johnson concluded her remarks with “As Winnie the Pooh said, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.”
Ava Johnson began her tenure with TISD as a sixth- through eighth-grade math and science teacher in 1986. She became principal of Troup Middle School in 1997, the position from which she is retiring.
“In the fifth grade, the good Lord called me to education,” Johnson recalled. “Ever since then I have run head long toward educating people. My first job was in Chapel Hill where I did my student teaching with Mrs. JoAnn Brewer and the fourth grade teachers. After eight wonderful years, a teacher in Troup and I swapped jobs. For the last 32 years it has been my pleasure to serve my school and the community of Troup. I have run the good race and fought the fight by teaching students, working with parents and sharing knowledge with the awesome professionals that I have worked alongside at TMS. Hands down, TMS has the best staff and I will miss them all. I thank everyone that helped to make TMS a great school. Thanks for allowing me to serve this school with my whole heart.”
While confident in her accomplishments and the staff she leaves behind, Johnson was less certain of her future plans.
“Not sure what comes next, but if I wait on the Lord, he will lead me toward the next plan he has for my life,” Johnson remarked.
Johnson’s fellow employees commented on her departure from the district, noting her love for students.
“Ava Johnson is a person of great significance to her family, community and Troup ISD,” Pat Davis said. “She is someone who truly loves children and has impacted the lives of many. Ava is a person of great integrity, character and leadership, a positive role model and true woman of God. She found her purpose in life and used it to help others be successful. We were blessed and so thankful to have had her as our leader at Troup Middle School. May God continue his wonderful blessings in her life.”
Sandra Davis, who is currently employed at the elementary, worked at the middle school for a long period of time.
“Mrs. Ava Johnson has a heart of gold for the young men and women that have come through Troup ISD, Davis remarked. “She has always gone above the job to help anyone that needed help. A very lovely lady to have as a friend and co-worker. What I love about this wonderful woman of God is that she is always given of her heart to others and not wanting or looking for anything in return. Troup ISD is going to miss this great lady who always put the kids first. Ava is and will always be about kids.”
Patrick Davis II, son of Pat and Sandra, also desired to comment on Ava Johnson’s departure.
“I have known Mrs. Johnson and her husband Cliff since I was a little boy playing T-ball,” Davis stated. Their son Clint and I were classmates as well as teammates growing up through the years. Mrs. Johnson was one of my middle school math teachers and even my principal. She always treated me fairly, making sure I was acting right and representing my family in a positive way. She helped me countless times while I was in college. I really appreciate her heart and how she has always cared about kids not her own. Mrs. Johnson is one of the people that has taught me as an educator to always put kids first and I want to thank her for that.”
Stuart Bird, who has recently been replaced by Tammy Jones as superintendent and will officially be retired at the end of June, also commented on the three retirees.
“I have had the privilege of enjoying six wonderful years in Troup ISD,” Bird remarked. “It has been an honor to work with the likes of Ava Johnson, Dewayne Brown and Melanie Johnson. They are what Troup, Texas, stands for and Troup ISD is all about. Troup has had very good schools for many, many years and these three have been a very important part of why Troup ISD is one of the best districts in the state. They all bleed maroon and love our Troup Tigers. More importantly, they are excellent educators and administrators. They put children first. It’s not a job to these wonderful educators; it is a mission and a passion. These folks are the true spirit of Troup ISD.”