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Georgia Southern education major Zachary "Zach" Barrow has surprise graduation at WJMS

Not wanting to miss out on a day of his students' instruction, William James Middle School teacher Zach Barrow chose to skip his own graduation from Georgia Southern University on Tuesday, December 13. His administrators, fellow faculty, and students surprised him with his own special ceremony instead.
Zach Barrow, left, at his impromptu graduation ceremony Tuesday with WJMS Principal, Dr. Scott Chapman

On Tuesday, December 13, at 10am, Georgia Southern University senior education major Zachary Barrow was treated to a surprise graduation ceremony at William James Middle School. Barrow voluntarily chose to miss his own graduation from Georgia Southern, as he considers his class and students the top priority at this time.

Inspired and moved by his passion for his students, the WJMS 6th Grade faculty decided to hold an impromptu graduation for Barrow. His team of 6th Grade colleagues and students were elated to help him celebrate this educational milestone.

The school secretly planned a ruse to get Barrow out of the classroom. Meanwhile, all the students and faculty gathered in the lunchroom. Completely taken by surprise, Barrow showed up to the lunchroom with a smile on his face and gratitude in his eyes. Principal Scott Chapman, in full ceremonial attire, carried out the impromptu ceremony extending countless praises for Barrow’s work thus far. The packed crowd of 6th grade students cheered and roared. The students were just as excited as the faculty to help celebrate Barrow’s graduation achievement.

Zach Barrow Surprise Graduation

Barrow is an education major at Georgia Southern University who had been scheduled to graduate on Tuesday from the university. However, Barrow had already been brought on as a 6th grade teacher in the school district. He was hired on a provisional teaching certificate pending his graduation. This progression into teaching is highly uncharacteristic for the standard educational major. (The standard process education majors go through is an in-person “practicum” under a current teacher, then undergoing a student teaching component, then graduating, then being offered a teaching position.)

But Barrow had exhibited such exemplary work in the early processes of his student teaching that Chapman knew he had to be his next “Rock Star” teacher.

Zach Barrow Surprise Graduation
Barrow (left) and Dr. Scott Chapman, principal of WJMS

Regarding the secret ruse and events, Barrow was still basking in the unexpectedness of the event. He said, “I had no inkling that this was going to happen. I did not expect anything like this to take place. It is truly past my wildest dreams. I must give thanks to my admin, my teachers, and my students especially. I cannot love them enough!”

Chapman expressed similar thanks and gratitude towards Barrow. He noted that Barrow has contributed greatly to the 6th Grade WJMS team thus far.

"At William James, we believe that if you love kids, work hard, and are willing to grow—you are all that this school needs,” Chapman said.

From Chapman’s point of view, there was no doubt in his mind that the WJMS team would spring into action to help celebrate Barrow’s special day. “We were going to make this happen-no matter what. His kids adore him; his teachers love him. We were going to make this happen,” he said.

Chapman would like to give a special thanks to Dee Hudgens (6th Grade Science Teacher). Hudgens came up with the idea to hold a special gradation for Barrow on his special day.

Grice Connect sends you a big congratulations, Zach, on all your achievements! Keep up the great work. We look forward to seeing more of your educational achievements in the future!