Jeffery Byrd

Jeffery Byrd, a para-professional at Monroe Area High School, was recently named Support Person of the Year for Walton County School District. Byrd said he was humbled by the honor but said it was possible due to God and his co-workers. Byrd quickly takes on any task including dressing up as Santa Claus for a school day in December. Stephen Milligan photo | The Walton Tribune

Jeffery Byrd insists his recent honor rests on the shoulders of countless others.

Byrd, a paraprofessional at Monroe Area High School, was named Support Person of the Year for the Walton County School District and said he’s thrilled with the honor but said he’s one he shares with many other people.

“It’s an honor,” Byrd said. “It’s not just an honor to be named the support person of the year for my school, but to get it for the county makes it so much bigger. But it’s not just for me. It’s everyone I work with. We’re a team. It’s an honor for all of them.”

Byrd has worked in the district for 22 years, having grown up in Monroe and graduated from MAHS years earlier. He said he went into education because of the impact his own teachers had on him.

“When I was young, there were teachers that loved me for me,” Byrd said. “I wanted to give that back, to pass it on.”

Byrd worked for years at Harmony Elementary School with students with special needs but moved to MAHS two years ago to reconnect with many of the same students he’d worked with at HES.

“It was great to see so many of them again,” Byrd said.

He said he works to help them in whatever way he can — as a paraprofessional, he assists the primary teacher in instruction, but also in maintaining classroom discipline and helping students on a one-on-one basis as needed.

“I try to lead by example,” Byrd said. “If we can touch somebody along the way, we’ve done our job.”

Byrd said he was truly touched when he was told about his selection as Support Person of the Year.

“I cried,” Byrd said. “It’s a humbling honor. Everybody has been so supportive of what I do. I come into work every day to give back and it’s great to see that recognized. I just want to bring joy in what I do.”

Byrd’s hard work earned him the title for this year’s system support person, but he said he truly owes the recognition to a higher power.

“It’s really God’s favor,” Byrd said.

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