FOLEY – Foley welcomed 4,000 teachers and other educators as the Baldwin County Public School System kicked off the 2023-24 academic year.

The annual Teacher Institute took place Friday, Aug. 4, at the Foley Event Center. The event is a gathering of all teachers, staff members and administrators in the county school system before schools open.

Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich greeted participants at the start of the event.

“This is an incredible event,” Hellmich said. “What an opportunity today. I want to thank you all for coming. I want to welcome or welcome the board, all of the staff and especially the teachers, all 4,000 of you. This is incredible.”

Hellmich cited one of the system’s slogans, “The Power of One.” He said teachers have an impact on lives that extends beyond their time in the classroom. He said his wife, Jo, who retired after 30 years teaching in Baldwin County is still greeted by students years later.

“We have people in this room today that Ms. Jo taught who are now teachers here today,” Hellmich said. “That is incredible. So what you do, the power of one, every day is so important in the lives of our children . We get it. Here in Foley, our Forward City, our council, and all of the folks appreciate what you do.”

Chassity Riddick, school system communications coordinator, thanked Foley officials for their help in putting on the event.

“The city of Foley graciously donates this building every year so we can hold this event and it’s very much appreciated,” she said.

In the past, two teacher institute meetings were held for teachers from different areas. Eddie Tyler, Baldwin County superintendent of education, said the Foley Event Center allows everyone in the system to meet together.

“What a morning. Everyone here at one time,” Tyler said. “This is our second year to be in one place at one time. Thank you to the city of Foley for letting us be here.” 

The event also featured a performance by the Foley High School band, “The Noise,” as well as activities by students from other area schools.