Outstanding Leadership Award

In 2011, the SSTAGE Board of Directors created the Debbie Rondem Award for Outstanding Leadership which was named in honor of the first recipient of the award.  Each year Georgia educational leaders may be nominated for this award.  

One educator per year will receive the award, and that individual will be recognized at a SSTAGE event. 



Debbie exemplified the type of leader that knew how to solve a lot of the issues surrounding the difficulties we’re having with kids with challenges. “She understood you must intervene early, you must intervene very systematically and then know whether or not you’re making changes with students...It takes a lot of courage to train the professionals around you … to spread that word and then help people develop the skills to do it well. And she was all of that.” 

(Lynn Pennington, 2012)

Debbie Rondem, retired Director of Student Support Services in Forsyth County and 2010-2011 SSTAGE President, was the first recipient of a new award recognizing outstanding leadership qualities.  Debbie personified the ideals of SSTAGE Leadership by her dedicated service on the SSTAGE Board and service to students in her role as Student Services Director and School Counselor.  She was an original member and vital part of the seminal Metro SST Consortium in 2000 and actively supported the creation of the SSTAGE association in 2007.  She was also part of the SST Audit and Design team and volunteered her district to participate in that innovative process.  Debbie served as SSTAGE Director-at-Large from 2008-09, SSTAGE President-Elect 2009-2010, and SSTAGE President 2010-2011.  Debbie also served on the Georgia DOE RTI Task Force, helping to bring powerful, research-based change to the education of all students and especially, at-risk students.  Those who have worked with Debbie have witnessed her dedication, leadership, organization, integrity, and grace in all that she endeavors.  In addition to serving students, families, and educators, she has honorably served her country as a Colonel in the United States Army.  Debbie has helped countless individuals via many organizations, received numerous awards, and has been a true advocate for positive change in education.

2021 Recipient

Dr. Priscilla Yarbrough, Early County Schools, Region 4


2020 Recipient - 

2019 Recipient - Dr. Kiawana Kennedy

Griffin-Spalding County Schools

2018 Recipient - Dr. Donna Major

Walton County Schools

2016 Recipient - Patrick Kennedy

Executive Director

SSTAGE Connections

2015 Recipient - Dr. Craig Lockhart

Newton County Schools

2014 Recipient - Donna Collins

Stephens County Schools

2013 Recipient - Dr. Lisa Hinely

Oglethorpe County Schools

2012 Recipient - Cathy McKenzie

Cherokee County Schools

2011 Recipient - Debbie Rondem

Forsyth County Schools