HALLSVILLE — Hallsville’s largest employer welcomed its staff back to work on Friday and celebrated the work year that will officially begin when students return to the classroom on Wednesday.

Hallsville ISD’s hundreds of staff and teachers joined together Friday to get mentally pumped up for the 2019-20 school year by celebrating the district’s accomplishments and its outstanding employees.

Hallsville ISD Education Foundation was on hand Friday to hand out 35 $100 bills to 35 lucky teachers, money that will go to help them prepare their classrooms for the flood of students that will show up on Wednesday.

Hallsville ISD Superintendent Jeff Collum served as Friday’s convocation guest speaker and reminded the teachers and staff of this school year’s theme, “You Raise Me Up.”

“We need to raise our students up, we need to raise each other up and we need to raise this community up,” Collum said. “You never know what your students face before they get to your classroom — hunger, fear, sadness or happiness.

“Kids will show up Wednesday ready or not. Raise each other up. Love your job. Find passion in what you do. The 2019-20 school year is upon us — let’s have an outstanding year.”

One of the district’s educators to be recognized on Friday has a long history of raising up students, her fellow teachers and the community in her 50 years with Hallsville ISD.

The district’s Community Outreach Coordinator Carol Greer was awarded the district’s first ever Purple Heart award for her service as a teacher, the district’s first public relations spokeswoman, her work with Western Days, the Miss Hallsville pageant and her work with the Hallsville ISD Alumni Association.

On Jan. 16, Greer was recognized for outstanding service in public education on the floor of the 86th legislative session, Collum said.

Greer is a 1964 Hallsville High School graduate and 2019 will serve as her 50th year as a Hallsville ISD employee, the longest serving in the district.

Greer has been named the Hallsville Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year and the Hallsville ISD Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni. She received a standing ovation on Friday from her fellow district teachers and staff.

Collum on Friday also listed the district’s most recent achievements, including a FIRST financial rating of superior from the Texas Education Agency, an ever increasing student enrollment, a Region 7 Education Service Center recognized teacher of the year, an academic overall rating of B and a $55 million proposed bond that could make it to the November ballot.

Hallsville ISD students return to class on Aug. 14.