York prepares for move to Auburn

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2006

It's both a new beginning and a time to look back on &#8220a lot of great memories” for Keith York.

York, principal of Georgiana High School, has stepped down from his post as his family prepares to move to the Auburn area.

Make no mistake – York is not leaving to seek out another school system.

It's all about family.

&#8220My son Luke, who is five, was diagnosed with autism last January…this move is to do what's best for Luke,” York explained.

Autism, a developmental disorder that affects an estimated three to six children out of every 1,000, is characterized by impaired social interaction, communication problems and unusual or very limited activities and interests. York said once his son was diagnosed, &#8220like any other parent I started studying the disorder on the Internet.”

Online, York and his wife Becky, a teacher at RL Austin Elementary in Georgiana, learned about the Auburn University Autism Center.

&#8220There's a waiting list, but parents are welcome to come up and tour the facility anytime. We went during fall break this school year, and were very impressed.”

The Yorks got to see the center's teachers in action working with autistic children.

&#8220The AU Autism Center is considered a model site for the best practices. That is what we want for our son. We agreed it would be ideal,” York said.

With Luke newly accepted into the program, the couple has been making plans to relocate to the Auburn area.

It's a bittersweet transition.

&#8220After eight years here in Butler County, living here in Georgiana, it's hard to leave. I have really enjoyed teaching and coaching here,” York said.

York has worn several hats during his time at Georgiana High.

The outgoing principal served as classroom teacher/head football coach and, later, as assistant principal. He took the principal's position last spring after the untimely death of GHS Principal Roland Pettie.

&#8220I have had the opportunity to touch several areas here at the school. I've been able to be involved in all facets at Georgiana High, and I'm really glad about that,” York said.

He is pleased to see the school moving in the right direction.

&#8220Our teachers have really worked hard – we are not 100 percent where we should be, but we have made progress, that's for sure.”

York is proud of the fact 60 percent of Georgiana's sophomores have already passed all five parts of the graduation exam. The outgoing principal believes progress will continue at the school, in part due to the efforts of Mike Looney, Butler County Schools superintendent.

&#8220I feel like Mr. Looney is doing a good job moving our system ahead. He is dedicated to improving all areas of the system and I appreciate it. It's good to have someone come in who cares and really wants to work with you,” York said.

He is glad to see improvement coming in the school's facilities as well.

&#8220It's been slow in some ways, but it's coming along.”

York said he has truly enjoyed getting to know the students at GHS.

&#8220I've tried to be fair and to make a difference in their lives when and where I could. I have a lot of fond memories of our students and the accomplishments they have made over the years.”

York says he and his wife are in the process of securing jobs in the Auburn area, but stresses their main concern is getting Luke started in the autism program at the university.

&#8220I have to say I have certainly appreciated the chance to work in this county and I am going to miss things in Georgiana and Butler County,” York said.

&#8220However, we are doing for we feel is the best thing for our little boy.”