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Athens Loses a Noted Teacher and a Longtime Journalist

Joshua Sampson. Photo courtesy of the Clarke County School District.

A well-known Cedar Shoals High School teacher, Joshua Sampson, and award-winning local journalist Conoly Hester both died on Sunday.

Sampson, 48, died in an accident at his home. Principal Antonio Derricotte informed staff and students Monday morning and sent the following statement to parents:

Josh was a valued part of our staff and community as both a 1991 graduate of Cedar Shoals and a longtime staff member. He worked at CSHS for over 17 years as both an English teacher and in his most current assignment as the master scheduler.  In 2016, Josh was selected as the school’s Teacher of the Year. 

In his 2016-17 Teacher of the Year interview, he explained to the Athens Banner-Herald the satisfaction he receives from his chosen profession. “I like being around the kids. In every class I’ve ever had and all I foresee, there’s a mixture of students who don’t want to be there, who are ‘all right’ with the situation, and those who are hungry for knowledge. Finding out what all those middle students want to know, convincing them to hunger for information is a good feeling, but taking the kid who does not want to be there at all and convincing him to just be cool with things is an even greater reward.”

The above quote captures who Mr. Sampson was as an educator and person. He was passionate about his work with students and worked diligently to ensure that they learned. This is a great loss for all of us. We have additional counselors and district staff at the school to provide assistance to students and staff during this difficult time.   

Our deepest condolences go out to Josh’s wife, Stacy, son, Henry, and other members of the Sampson family. Please keep them in your thoughts during this most difficult time.   

Hester, 86, died at Piedmont Athens Regional of injuries sustained when she was hit by a forklift moving trash receptacles near her home in the Presbyterian Village retirement community.

She moved to Athens in 1971 with her husband, the late UGA journalism professor Al Hester, and worked as a reporter and editor for the Athens Banner-Herald. The couple wrote a book on Athens history in 1999.

“Conoly Hester was as good a reporter as I ever knew. She had intelligence, courage and heart, and was meticulous in her craft,” former Banner-Herald reporter Lee Shearer, now a Flagpole contributor, told the paper for its news obituary.