King retires from career dedicated to children’s health

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Even in retirement, Debbie King plans to stay a busy bee. After working for Fayette County Public Schools for 22 years, King retired as the School Health Services Coordinator, but she will keep buzzing about with a plate full of plans for her next phase.

The first and only person to hold the position before handing the reigns to Julie Joiner in late 2021, King always knew her calling.

“As long as I remember I wanted to be a nurse to help others,” King said.

She was a full-time pediatric registered nurse for 38 years, starting in Washington before moving to Georgia. After working in the ICU at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, fate brought her to Fayette in 2000.

“I ended up being the School Health Services Coordinator by luck, right place at the right time!”

Georgia first appropriated funds for a school nurse program in the “A+ Education Reform Act of 2000” when King was working at Braelinn Elementary as a paraprofessional and contracting with special education to create specialized procedures and guidelines. Then-Student Services Director Larry Reeves posted the newly-created School Health Services Coordinator position for the first time, and King was asked to interview.

“Before I left the LaFayette Education Center parking lot after the interview, Mr. Reeves offered me the position, and I started immediately in October 2000 to implement the School Health Services Program.”

As the demands of the position are ever-changing, King is proud that their program always continued to improve. By 2003 Fayette County Public Schools had a licensed nurse in every school, and in 2008 the Special Education Nurse was added to School Health Services.

“Our School Health Services Program has always been a role model for other districts,” she said. “Students had access to a school nurse during the day for their physical and emotional health needs.”

Though she’s retiring from the school system, she’s not planning to slow down too much. To continue to encourage public health, she will be teaching CPR courses at the local American Heart Association Training Center. There will be time for hobbies like playing golf and participating in the Master Gardener program, and even exercising later than 5:30 a.m. She can’t want to spend more time managing the honey bees in her apiary and developing her “Debees” business of honey and bee-related products.

Though she’s stepped away from working with the school system, she can look back with pride at the legacy she left.

“The most rewarding part of the job was knowing I impacted families in my community in a positive way.” — Article provided by the Fayette County School System.