Bartow Middle admins

The first ever Superintendent's Hero Award were bestowed upon Bartow Middle School Principal Chris Roberts, center left, and Assistant Principle Dwayne Johnson, center right, Jan. 22 during a Polk County School Board meeting.

BARTOW – The first ever Superintendent's Hero Awards were bestowed upon Bartow Middle School Principal Chris Roberts and Assistant Principal Dwayne Johnson Jan. 22 during a Polk County School Board meeting.

The two school officials may have saved a few lives recently.

On Oct. 21, 2018, a Bartow Middle student alerted a teacher of two pre-teen girls who were about to do something bad. According to police reports, after verifying the two girls were skipping class, they were found hiding in a restroom and brought to the school office. Assistant Principal Johnson then ordered the girls to empty their pockets.

One girl had a knife and a sharpener in her pocket. Staff then demanded to search their bags. Inside were several large kitchen knives, a pair of scissors and a pizza cutter. The girls reportedly told the school resource officer that they planned to kill “smaller students” who entered the restroom so the two girls would become “worse sinners” and “go to hell” after committing suicide.

In a letter to Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd recommending Johnson for the Superintendent's Hero Award, Roberts described his emotions that day.

“I am forever grateful for Mr. Johnson and his quick thoughts and actions on this day,” Roberts wrote. “He stopped a plan that no school or community ever wants to deal with — the intent by a person or group to cause great bodily harm to students, on school grounds, during the school day.”

Polk County Public Schools Senior Director for Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships Rachel Pleasant said it would be hard for Byrd to recognize all of her heroes on staff, because there are so many, but that she wanted to start awarding those who are most selfless.

“These brave individuals make a life-saving difference for our children every day, but all too often they go unrecognized,” Pleasant said.

The names of the students are being withheld due to their age, and because they have yet to be convicted. Both appear to have been expelled based on the court docket.

Also awarded for bravery Jan. 22 were Mulberry High School Resource Officer Preston Davis and Principal Michael Young.

In Nov. 2018, Davis heard gunshots, called dispatch for help, and called school staff to lock the school down.

“The lockdown was lifted within the hour,” Young wrote in his letter recommending Davis for the award. “The students and staff of Mulberry High School are extremely appreciative of Deputy Davis' quick action in keeping our school safe.”

If any parent or school staff want to make a nomination for the new award, email .

Contact Charles A. Baker III at


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