Shorter to honor three with 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Media release: Shorter University will honor three alumni – Dr. Michele Williams Taylor, Leon Staples, and Elizabeth “Liz” Etheredge Petty – with its 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards. The awards will be presented during halftime of Shorter’s homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Barron Stadium.


Dr. Michele Williams Taylor, a 1990 graduate of Shorter who serves as superintendent of Calhoun City Schools, will receive the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award. This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated outstanding personal achievement, public service or accomplishment in service to the global community.

“Dr. Taylor is consistently being recognized within our state as an exemplary educator and administrator,” said Sheri Ransome, director of alumni relations and annual giving at Shorter. “She excelled in teaching prior to assuming the role of superintendent of Calhoun City Schools, which is a top performing school district.”

Among Dr. Taylor’s honors was her recognition as the 2014 Georgia Superintendent of the Year. She has led the Calhoun school system for nine years and previously served as assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal, instructional coordinator, media specialist and classroom teacher.

Dr. Taylor and her husband, Joe, reside in Calhoun and have two children, Joseph and Anna.

Leon Staples
Leon Staples

Leon Staples, a 2009 graduate of Shorter who serves as human resources specialist at Grady Health Systems, will receive the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Service Award. This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has given outstanding service to the university in leadership, volunteerism, on-campus service, recruiting efforts or financial support.

Staples exemplifies service to Shorter through his role as a member of the Alumni Governing Board, of which he became a member shortly after his graduation in 2009. He has served the Alumni Governing Board as vice president, beginning in 2012, and currently serves as chair of the College of Adult and Professional Programs Committee.

“In addition to sharing his God-given gifts and talents with our Shorter family, Leon Staples also serves on several professional boards within the Atlanta community,” Mrs. Ransome said. “His nominator describes him as a strong advocate of Shorter with students, graduates and within the global marketplace.”

Liz Etheredge Petty, a 2005 graduate of Shorter who serves as a teacher and choral director at Pepperell Middle School, will receive the 2015 Distinguished Young Alumni Award, which honors a Shorter graduate from the past 10 years who has shown promise through his or her professional achievement, community service and/or dedication to the university and who embraces the Shorter University mission.

Liz Petty
Liz Petty

“Liz Petty is described by her nominator as passionate about teaching music while representing Shorter University with honor and distinction,” Mrs. Ransome said. “She has built a strong group of Pepperell Middle School Chorus alumni who participate in supporting current students and performing in the annual PMS Christmas Choral Concert. She is also described as one how sets a godly example for the students she teaches while nurturing their love of music.”

Petty has received the Rome News-Tribune’s Readers Choice Award for Best Teacher in 2010 and was also recognized as the Best Connections Teacher within Floyd County Schools in 2011. She was selected from a notable group of choral directors from Georgia to conduct the 2012-13 Floyd County Honor Chorus.

Petty and her husband Josh reside in Rome with their two children Eva Grace and Isaac. She is attends West Rome Baptist Church, where she and her husband are members of the Sunday Night Band, help lead worship on Sunday mornings and volunteer with worship and teaching with the children’s ministry.

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