Thanks, John: Retiring Superintendent DeCotis a role model

Over 25 years ago when I first met you, I knew it was the continuation of a hugely successful career in Fayette County Schools for you.

A few months after taking over for the newly elected superintendent as principal of Huddleston Elementary, you were able to rally students, teachers, staff, and parents on your side, not an easy job coming in a couple months after school had already begun.

Creating an atmosphere of open-door policy, a vast departure from the previous years, supporting your teachers, staff and parents, you provided the environment which fostered learning for many students. The simple act of signing the students’ work posted in the halls, listening to “advice” from parents, communicating with your teachers and being supportive through tough decisions taught everyone not only how much you really cared about education, but also how you could manage this as a business.

We worked on many projects from leaking roofs to band concerts, to chorus concerts, to school carnivals, with you always doing the best, showing the positive side for your “kids” even before your own came into your life.

You continued to hone your skills as an educator and business person there and then brought those skills to fruition in the county office culminating in a successful superintendent for many years, always mindful of how important a solid education was for every student and how important your teachers and staff are.

No matter where you were in the county, I always heard how you knew all your teachers, had encouraging things to say to them, but most importantly knew they were the best asset you had in your business of running your schools and county.

The fact that many schools, teachers, and students have received numerous academic awards and achievements in addition to you personally being recognized on the state and national levels for academic achievements shows again your commitment and dedication.

Serving with community organizations such as YMCA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Fayette County Safe Kids, Toastmasters International, Southern Federal Credit Union, Fayette County Board of Health, Fayette County Youth Protection Home, and Knights of Columbus showed us all that even a transplant from New York, like I was too, cared about this community in a positive manner.

One of my personal favorites is the play park where my grandkids love to go play now being the results of your wife’s, her friends’, and your vision. It is so a loving touch to all of Fayette County that will stand the test of time.

Your professional accolades have shown what an influential role model you have been for everyone involved in the Fayette County schools. Not a surprise to me. Something told me in October of 1984 I would be seeing and hearing a lot from and about you.

I’ll never forget when your first child was born how humble you were but proud. Their success in the school system is a testament to a loving marriage, a happy home, and the importance of education. No family achieves all this without hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and commitment, of themselves, and their families.

Mrs. Key and Dr. Todd may have known you for a lot longer than I, worked with you a lot longer than I, but I share with them, and many others our thanks for taking that train and bus to Fayette County years ago.

So congratulations on your retirement. My only sadness is you won’t be there to lead my grandkids into their future. I can only hope the search for a new superintendent will be successful enough to find one as valuable as you are and have been. Enjoy your new adventure in life.

I wish for you, and your family a happy and healthy retirement, and to be as blessed as I am with my husband, children, son in law, and grandkids.

Ellen T. “Gramme” Cox

Fayetteville, Ga.

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