Gordon State College Hosts Fourth Annual Legacy Lecture With Griffin-Spalding County School System Superintendent as Guest Speaker

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Gordon State College hosted its Fourth Annual Legacy Lecture with featured guest speaker Dr. Keith L. Simmons, Griffin-Spalding County School System superintendent at the Student Activity and Recreation Center (SARC).

“This year’s Legacy Lecture continues to elevate our vision, inspire the campus, and give us an opportunity to reflect on how we may do things differently whether it be in our lives or on campus with the thoughts of the leader brought to view,” said GSC President, Dr. Kirk A. Nooks. “There is something unique and authentic about Dr. Simmons’ leadership. His motivation and guidance within the school district created a culture that will last through the generations.”

Simmons is a veteran educator and has served as a teacher-coach, dean of students, assistant principal, principal, and chief of staff during his span of over 25 years in education. He began his educational career in his hometown of Kissimmee, Florida and served in the greater Orlando area for the first seven years of his profession.

As chief of staff for Bibb County Schools, Simmons managed operations to lead the system in serving 33 schools and over twenty thousand students. Graduation rates increased annually during his time at Griffin High School and he showed a commitment in providing additional Career, Technical, and Agricultural Educational (CTAE) opportunities. His passion was in improving climate, culture, and educational equity.

The lecture began with Simmons defining what legacy meant to him. He defined it as a lasting experience, expression or impression. However, he posed the question if anyone knew how legacies were created.

“You can sometimes create your legacy or someone can create it for you,” Simmons said. “You need to have the awareness or understanding of which type is occurring.”

Simmons continued by sharing that his legacy was created by his grandfather. He said he began to understand, through the observation of his grandfather, what hardship looked like and the fact that it had many facets. He recognized that hard work and dedication seemed to be used in the same sentence at all times, but there was a difference between the two.

“What was passed down to me is hardship, the observation of service, the reliance upon hope, and the blessings of God,” Simmons said. “A part of my legacy and the legacy I’ve observed is to recognize that there is a time for hard work, but dedication is continuous.”

In preparation for the event, GSC students had the chance to reflect on what they would like their own legacy to be at Gordon. Joshua McNease, business administration major, believed in the action of creating his legacy. He credited GSC in helping him to become the person he is and the type of person he’d like to have discovered.

“I was a kid who didn’t know what he wanted out of life,” McNease said. “Over the four years at Gordon, I’ve created something that will show people anything is possible. I’ve stepped on a plane for the first time and flown to Wales in the UK for six months where I also played football.”

Elijah Clemmons, human services major said he wanted to leave his legacy as being a role model for future student leaders.

“As soon as I stepped on campus, I wanted to leave a lasting impact,” Clemmons said. “I have developed my leadership skills by being involved in student missionary, [GSC] Toastmasters Club, and African American Male Initiative (AAMI).”