After 34 years in the education profession, principal Donnie Nutt will be taking some much deserved time to relax, unwind and enjoy retirement. Nutt has been a strong and influential leader for DHS and, like many great leaders, he will leave behind a lasting legacy.
April Fool’s Day will be no joke for the students and faculty of Dacula High School, it will be the first day without their beloved principal of the last 12 years. Nutt’s very last day will be March 30.
“The things I am going to miss the most here at Dacula is the community in general, and the relationships we have built here,” Nutt said. “One of the things that we hang our hat on is relationship building. I will miss being with the students and the faculty every day.”
As mentioned in a previous , his leadership style succeeds through focus and caring. Nutt genuinely cares for the people he leads.
“As I leave, I hope they continue the tradition of caring for one another and our Dacula family first,” Nutt said. “All of the other things will fall in place.”
Long time friend John Williams knew Nutt when they both were students at Dacula High School. Williams now works for Nutt as a teacher. He describes Nutt as a gentle spirit with a kind warm heart, and he will miss his ability to lead through the good and bad times.
“I like to say we work with Mr. Nutt, we never really work for Mr. Nutt,” Williams said. “You feel like you are working with him to achieve the common goal to educate the kids the best way we can.”
While Nutt may have a kind spirit, don’t let that fool you into thinking that he has not been extremely driven and focused on creating a successful educational environment for the children of Dacula.
“We have a motto here that is focused on learning and everything we have done revolves around that focus on learning," he explained. "It has lead to several accolades in recent years, and I have to compliment the faculty, staff and the students for their hard work."
Nutt encourages the students at Dacula High School to remain focused on their goals after he leaves. He knows the success of each student is just beginning at the high school level, and he believes they can accomplish amazing things in their lives far beyond graduation day.
“I hope the students will continue to focus on their goals,” Nutt said. “We have done a good job at directing and helping students set a goal, not just graduate from high school but what they are going to do in the future. People talk about graduation rates, but even though they graduate we do not know if they are successful. Many students have come back to tell us that they have achieved the things that they wanted to achieve, and that is what it is all about. We know then that we have been successful.”
So what is Nutt’s main message to the students? “Continue to focus on the future and work hard to get there,” he said.
While Nutt’s great leadership will physically end after March 30, his legacy to lead and strengthen the school and our community will continue through a program that he has been working on during his years at Dacula.
“The leadership development program has been a 12-year process,” Nutt explained. “It is a great program for student leaders and adult leaders. We train over 100 student leaders every year who eventually go out and use those leadership skills. In addition, we have had probably 36 to 38 adults that have gone on to become educational leaders, assistant principals, principals, in the county office, and in many other education leadership roles. We are really proud of the work we have done in our leadership program. Several of the principals in our county right now have come through Dacula. One of our principals affectionately calls us the ‘Dacula mafia.’ ”
Williams said Nutt's dedication to this leadership program is one of the greatest impacts Nutt has had on Dacula.
“He has provided stable leadership throughout his tenure like no other principal has,” Williams said proudly. “Under his leadership there have been many principals and assistant principals come out under his tutelage, and not just in Gwinnett County. He is leaving a great legacy.”
Nutt has been developing leaders and building our future for the past 34 years, so what is he going to do now?
“I literally have nothing on my plate,” Nutt chuckled. “One of the fun things is that my wife who works at Dacula Middle School is going to retire the same day I do. She is my best friend so we are going to go out, travel, spend time together, enjoy each other and our family. We have a new grandbaby that will be born in July, so we are just going to take time and not let other people set the agenda for us. We are going to do what we want to do for a little while.”
Don’t worry though, you will still see Nutt’s smiling face around Dacula.
“We will remain in the Dacula area,” Nutt said. “We have raised our family here. My daughter, the one that is expecting in July, teaches at Dacula Elementary, and our son is still in college. We are going to hang around here. This is home for us. I graduated from Dacula High School, and that is what has made this job so much fun for me.”
Who else is making a difference in Dacula? Click here to let us know!