Though she may be the new Superintendent to Gordon County Schools, she is more than meets the eye. Wearing many hats, she is a teacher first and foremost.
Remillard is a proud Auburn University graduate, but her love for teaching began much earlier than her college career.
As a young child, Remillard admits to playing “teacher,” with stuffed animals reading to them, teaching them. At the age of 15, Remillard taught swimming lessons throughout high school and into college to earn extra money.
“I loved the teaching piece of it,” she said. “I have known all my life I wanted to teach. I feel like I have been a teacher forever.”
For the last six years, Remillard has been the curriculum director of Gordon County Schools, hired in 2007, after serving with Bartow County schools in Adairsville, first as principal and eventually as Superintendent. Remillard took over the position of former long time curriculum director Ann Macbeth who retired with more than 28 years of service to Gordon County. This longevity and consistency is what attracted Remillard to Gordon County.
“I saw that it was a commitment, not a hodge podge, but someone who had worked at length in the community and the school system. A lot of times with schools things change, curriculum changes, we change governors, we change state school superintendent’s and I think that’s a lot of the time where teachers get a bad wrap,” said Remillard. “Because of the changes, because of the political piece we tell teachers to do this, now do that. I like that consistency that Ann had been here 28 years, that this would be a great place to come and end my career in education. I wanted it to be my last stop.”
A mother of three and wife to a successful athletic coach who has served time as head coach of the 1984 Olympic Water Polo team, Remillard has seen her fair share of travel in her years of teaching, however Gordon County she says is the last stop.
Remillard says she does not plan to replace her position of curriculum director this year. Rather she plans to continue on in both capacities.
“I feel like with what we have asked teachers to do just with changing work calendar days and tightening their belts for the past four to five years in many different ways, I feel like that if they see me do that too, I will be a role model for them too to say, ‘you know what she isn’t asking us to do anything she wouldn’t do.’ said Remillard.
She will have help, she says, in the form of a literacy and math coach at the system level who will take on portions of the position to help out. After July, Remillard says she is not yet sure about filling the position in the future or not.
Remaining a semi curriculum director she feels will keep her sensitive to the needs of the students and especially the teachers.
“I never want to lose that sensitivity for teachers because it’s what they do every day, day in and day out and so many times we forget how hard it is. Now they have so many demands on them. I am an advocate for teachers,” she said.
In addition to her Superintendent and curriculum duties, Remillard also teaches several courses at Piedmont college. Teaching is what she loves, but reading is where her passion lies in teaching.
“I have taught kids to read forever. Just that gift that we give kids, we think of it as our job to teach them to read, but it’s really a gift to kids,” said Remillard. “I feel like that’s been my calling in life is to try to find those kids that don’t know how to read and make sure we get them caught up. We do a lot of that. Wherever I have been that has been my focus,” she added.
Remillard plans to continue on the path of a seamless transition in preparation for the testing changes expected in 2014 for the convenience of the students and the teachers.
She says the seamless transition will allow for consistency, something that does not always come with a superintendent change.
“To me the consistency in what the expectations are will be the same. Not changing hats will give some consistency for all our schools,” said Remillard.
“I think that’s their (teachers) biggest fears are what are they going to do different. So we are going to continue the work that we have been doing,” she added.
Apart from her hobbies of exercising, swimming, reading and visiting the beach, Remillard looks forward to opening the Red Bud Middle School and the college career acadmey in an effort to provide opportunities for students of Gordon County Schools.
“I feel like so much of my role is being an advocate for kids. There is a place for everybody. I really feel like its our job to help open the doors for kids, they have to have the key to open the door, that’s the instructional piece, but we have to make sure they’ve got those pieces. I feel like in my journey it's making sure kids know how to read because reading is so important, it’s the gateway to their careers and their life.”
Though the transition from McCown to Remillard may have expected to be seamless, things took a turn for the worse the day before Remillard was to take over. On January 30, an EF3 tornado ripped through Bartow and Gordon Counties shutting down Sonoraville High, middle and elementary Schools for two days afterwards. With her sense of pride in community at the outpouring of support by students, staff and family, Remillard says she was humbled in the aftermath of the storm.
“A real humbling piece for me is the amount of students working. Students who were volunteering were filthy dirty, covered in sawdust, it was pretty amazing,” said Remillard. “You have to model that for kids, you just don’t out of the clear blue decide to go help so they have parents who have taught them when the horse is in the ditch, everybody works to get it out and that’s what I really saw. So many people did whatever it took to get the job done, it’s nice to know you are in a place where people really care and will do whatever it takes to make sure people are taken care of.”
Even with a tumultuous start to her new position, Remillard is taking it all in stride and looks forward to the next two and a half year term she has entered into as of February 1.