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Friday December 2nd, 2022 9:03AM

‘One in a million’; Groundbreaking at Sandra Dunagan Deal Elementary

By Christian Ashliman Anchor/Reporter
  Contact Editor

The Hall County School Board and community members gathered Wednesday morning in Gainesville to break ground at the new Sandra Dunagan Deal elementary school.

A large crowd assembled at the construction site on White Sulphur Road after being shuttled across the street by Hall County school buses. Attendees heard from former Gov. Nathan Deal, Chairman Craig Herrington and Superintendent Will Schofield, as well as students from Riverbend and White Sulphur elementary schools. The event honored the late Sandra Deal and her contributions to the Georiga education system.

Deal passed away in August after her battle with breast cancer spread into her brain. She was a previous Georgia First Lady, married to former Gov. Nathan Deal. As a Hall County native, Sandra Deal worked as a teacher for over 15 years, serving the students of Tadmore Elementary, North Hall High School and North Hall Middle School. Much of her passion and career was dedicated to supporting education.

The Hall County School Board voted unanimously in September to name the school after Deal, proposing the idea shortly after Deal’s death. The new elementary school will be located on Ramsey Road, just off Ga. 365, and will open its doors in the fall of 2024. It will replace Riverbend and White Sulphur elementary schools.

Former Gov. Nathan Deal expressed gratitude to the school board and community for recognizing Mrs. Deal.

“This is a great honor for my wife and for our family,” Deal said. “She grew up in this area, she taught in the school—some of the schools that children will be going through these to the North Hall Middle School, which is where she retired from. Her mother taught at White Sulphur, which is one of the schools that will be consolidated into this. And it's just a great honor for our family. And I think it's a great honor for all of the teachers, this will be representative of teachers who are so important to our society. And I thank all of them.”

A common theme throughout the groundbreaking was the humble attitude Mrs. Deal maintained throughout her life, as speakers shared stories and cherished memories. The Deal’s third child, Carrie Deal, mentioned how important service has always been to their family.

“It's certainly not something that she would allow anyone to do for her,” Carrie said. “But we know that this is very appropriate, not only because it's an East Hall feeder and a North Hall feeder school, but that it represents early education, which is what my mom was truly passionate about, and really loved giving these kids a great opportunity to start their education so they can be fulfilled in life.”

Superintendent Will Schofield was appreciative of the community turnout for the event, given the frigid, windy morning conditions. He said he does not make a habit of naming buildings after people in Hall County, but when the board brought Sandra Deal’s name to him, it instantly felt right.

“Well, for a district that believes in trying to model and teach character to the next generation, what a great example to be able to name a school after a woman who led so humbly and so well for so long,” Schofield said. “So it's a great day for Hall County and it's a great day for generations of boys and girls.”

Several members of Mrs. Deal’s elementary school class were in attendance as well, being recognized as having supported the Deal family, and Gainesville at large. Gloria Martin praised Mrs. Deal’s outlook on life, calling her, “one in a million.”

“You know, it's amazing to know that I grew up with somebody that has gotten this far,” Martin said. “It's amazing. And I'm just proud she was my friend."

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: education, Nathan Deal, Hall County School Board, Sandra Deal, groundbreaking, Elementary School
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