Joseph “Shan” Garner is the new boys head basketball coach for the Bears.

Garner, a veteran coach, is currently an elementary teacher and assistant girls varsity coach in the Tift County School System in Tifton. The hire came at a called meeting of the school board Friday morning.

“I am excited about the opportunity to come and coach the Bears,” he said. “I have met many good people from Pierce County through the years and have always found the people there to be very kind and welcoming. I am looking forward to the new school year.”

Superintendent Terri DeLoach says Garner comes highly recommended.

“He is a dynamic teacher and coach and I think he will be good for our students,” she said.

Garner has been in education for 18 years in the Tift, Lowndes and Echols School Systems.

Garner is 216-91 as a varsity coach over his career. His coaching experience includes a two year stint at Echols County where he led the boys team there to their first 19-win season in decades and to the state play-offs.

Garner then coached the girls varsity basketball team at Lowndes for nine seasons, including three region titles, four state sweet 16 appearances and being named coach of the year three times.

Garner has had 25 athletes play at the college level including two division one signees.

“That’s what I am most proud of,” he said. “That’s my trophy. Awards and trophies that you receive are nice, but helping students go to college and succeed is the real reason I do this.”

 Garner succeeds Rusty Smith who resigned last month after two seasons.

Garner will receive a $6,500 supplement as the coach and will also receive an 11 month contract. Garner will also be a teacher at Pierce County High School.  His wife, Maria, will also join the school system as a Spanish teacher, also at the high school. She also currently teaches at Tift County High .

The Garners have two children, a daughter, Gabby, and a son, Grant.

In other personnel decisions, the board:

• voted to hire George Braddock, as a teacher at the high school, Keina Pruitt as a teacher at Patterson Elementary, Jennifer Richey, teacher at Blackshear Elementary and Tyler Rogers, special education teacher at the high school. Ashlee O’Steen Todd was hired as a counselor at Patterson Elementary and will receive a $700 supplement. Jennifer N. Murray is the new administrative secretary at Blackshear Elementary. Kellie Justice will be the one act play coordinator and chorus director at the high school and will receive $2,250 in supplements. Ericka McIntosh will be the new science department chair and will receive a $500 supplement.  Elizabeth Slusher will be the new junior class sponsor and will receive a $250 supplement. Mandy Beverly was hired as the head cheerleading/spirit coach and will receive supplements of $2,000. John DuPont will be the scoreboard supervisor at PCHS and will be paid $1,000 by the athletic department. Erica Grady will be the new assistant JV softball coach and will receive a $2,000 supplement. Robbie Spires will be the new football game manager and will receive a $1,500 supplement paid by the athletic department. Rogers will be the new assistant baseball/ junior varsity coach at the high school and will receive a $2,500 supplement. Matthew Wheeler will be the new boys head soccer coach at the high school and will receive a $2,500 supplement.

• accepting the resignations of Connie Colley, teacher at Patterson Elementary and Tony Voyles, teacher and boys head soccer coach at PCHS. The board also accepted the resignations of Lori Marx as head cheerleading/spirit coach, Matthew Wheeler as head boys soccer coach at the middle school and Kim Smith, junior class sponsor and prom coordinator at the high school.

The board also:

• postponed until June the selection of an architect for the proposed new high school. The item had been on the agenda, but the board voted to remove it.

• heard information on coming meetings. The board will hold its monthly work session at 8 a.m. Thursday, June 2. The regular monthly meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, June 6. Both meetings will be at the central office.

Jason Deal can be reached at or (912) 449-6693.