Free Gardening Make and Take

recycled planter
recycled planterPeachtree City Library’s summer reading program for adults, Groundbreaking READS, is presenting a free “make and take” gardening project at the Peachtree City Community Garden on Wednesday, July 17, at 10 a.m.

Volunteers from the library and Peachtree City Garden Club will show you how to turn an empty plastic water bottle into a self-watering planter. Attendees are asked to bring an empty plastic bottle (20 oz. or larger), although organizers will have extras on hand.  Every participant will get soil and a small plant to put in their planter.

Registration is recommended.

fresh salsaIf you love tomatoes, you’ll want to enter the Groundbreaking READS salsa competition at the Peachtree City Farmers Market to be held on Saturday, July 20, at 10 a.m. Be sure to read the rules and regulations – prizes will be awarded. Better hurry – the deadline to enter is July 14!

From Good to Better Parenting Workshops

moms club

From Good to Better Parenting Series
Presented by: Susanne Pinkley, Ed.S LPC
Combining Principles and Practices of:
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting,
Love and Logic and Boundaries with Kids

Join us for a 6 week series of parenting classes designed in part to:

• Show us the style of parenting we use and its effectiveness
• Teach us the power of encouragement versus praise in parenting
• Help us understand what we can do to nurture the minds and hearts of our children
• Show us the vast difference between discipline and punishment
• Help us teach our children to become wise decision makers in every aspect of their lives
• Teach us how to guide our children into becoming responsible, independent and compassionate adults and citizens

Classes on Thursdays
2/28, 3/7, 3/14, 3/21, 3/28 and 4/11
Evening Sessions from 6-8pm at the Historic Train Depot, Fayetteville, GA
Cost is $65 for one parent/caregiver or $80 for two parents/caregivers
Price covers cost of ALL sessions and ONE set of class materials

Questions and Registration Forms:

Limited Seating and Childcare Spaces still available –don’t delay!

Class hosted by MOMS Club® of Fayetteville. Any proceeds will be going to the renovation of the Church Street Park.

Starting a Business Workshop 1/11 at CSU-Fayette


Starting a Business Workshop 1/11 at CSU-Fayette

If you are considering starting a small business, this workshop is a crucial first step. Topics for discussion include:

  • traits of successful entrepreneurs
  • market research
  • legal structures for your business
  • estimating start-up costs & cash flow projections
  • financing alternatives
  • business failure factors
  • business planning

Since lack of planning is one of the top reasons new businesses fail, attending this comprehensive workshop may be one of the most important decisions you make prior to opening your business. A detailed business start-up book, “How to Start A Business: A Guide for Georgia Entrepreneurs”, and other handouts are provided. Receive 50% off each additional person with the purchase of one registration at full price, $69. All registrations must be made at the same time in order to receive this discount. This discount cannot be combined or used with any other discount or coupon.

The three hour workshop is from 9am – 12pm on Friday, January 11th.  The workshop will be offered at the Clayton State University-Fayette site located at 100 World Drive in Peachtree City.  Advanced registration is recommended.  Please see the link below for our class schedule or the attached flyer for more details.

We will also offer this class again on May 14th from 9am – 12pm at the same location.

For more information, please contact Heather Chaney at 678-466-5100 or visit

Distance Learning 101: A Q&A with Ginny Bass

Ginny Bass

Nowadays, it seems that everyone knows someone who’s taken an online course—or who’s even earning a degree online. But if you’ve never signed up for one yourself, you might be a little fuzzy on the details of what it is or how it works.

We asked Ginny Bass, director of Degree Completion at Clayton State University, to explain further. Bass has been named the recipient of the Distance Learning Administration’s (DLA) Outstanding Instructional Support Award for 2012, which recognizes outstanding achievements by an individual in developing and implementing projects to improve support and services for distance students and/or faculty. A resident of Fayetteville, and the assistant director of the Clayton State – Fayette instructional site in Peachtree City, Bass  received her award on June 3rd at the DLA Conference at Jekyll Island.

1. For those who aren’t familiar with it, what is distance learning?

Distance learning is a method of course delivery where classes are conducted over the Internet.  In

Ginny Bass

the early years of distance learning, student took classes via correspondence courses.  The technology today allows students to listen or view lectures over the internet, respond to discussion boards and classmate inquiries, and hold group meetings using web conferencing software.

Online classes can be taken fully online without class attendance, fully online with a proctored exam requirement, or in hybrid format where some class attendance is required,


2. Is it better suited for certain types of students than others?

Non-traditional students, meaning those students out of high school at least five years, are typically well suited for online courses because of maturity and motivational factors.  Non-traditional students are so often place bound due to employment and family responsibilities.  I often tell motivated adults that they can complete assignments in their PJ’s at 3:00 In the morning if necessary.  Female non-traditional students make up the largest segment of the online population. Successful distance learning students are motivated, organized (no procrastination), and mature.


3. Is it less expensive than traditional college courses or about the same (or more)?

The expensive varies across institutions.  Currently at Clayton State University, the majority of the undergraduate online courses are priced about the same as traditional courses, with the addition of an online course fee.  We also have collaborative degrees like the WebBSIT or the Master of Science in Nursing degree that uses an eTuition rate for courses within the degree.  These eTuition rates frequently do not have all the student fees associated with traditional courses.

The Registrar’s or Bursar’s web page is frequently the location for students to compare cost.


4. What are the advantages of distance learning? Are there any disadvantages?

There are many advantages to distance learning.  Online education has opened the door for so many students that were unable to attend college such as those working parents with family responsibilities or the police officer or airplane mechanic on shift work.  Distance learning is convenient and allows flexibility.  Students must complete assignments on time but the time of day is irrelevant.  The online classroom is composed of a diverse group of students which opens the door for new ways to view the world.

Distance learning is not the right fit for every student.  Learning style is a factor when selecting course delivery.  The auditory learner may have more difficulty with online courses due of the amount of text-based assignments.  Procrastinators fall behind on assignments and some students complain about the volume of work and rigor of distance learning courses.


5. Is there anything else you’d want a potential distance learner to know before she signed up for a course?

Prior to enrolling in an online class, I recommend the use of a readiness tool to guide in the assessment of strengths and weaknesses in the online environment.  Clayton State University uses the Readiness For Education at a Distance (READI) located at the following link:

Where is she now? – Mary Wilde


Catching up with Mary Wilde, Fayette Woman’s September/October 2001 Cover Lady


When we last saw you on the cover of the Fayette Woman Sept/Oct 2001 issue, you had just led J.C. Booth to its sixth national Science Olympiad championship. What have you been up to since then?

My husband and I are still involved in the Science Olympiad Program, but in different roles. Since 2001, we had three more National Championships and have been in the top five at Nationals the remaining years. I retired from the teaching profession in 2009, and my daughter, Tammy Pakulski, took my place in the classroom as the Gifted Science Teacher at Booth Middle School. She also accepted the responsibility as the Head Coach for the Booth Science Olympiad Program, and my husband and I help her with coaching events. The Science Olympiad Program consists of 23 different Events, and I work with mostly the Earth Science Events while Chuck does many of the Engineering Events.

Looking back, what would you say was the overall impact of participating in Science Olympiad on your students’ lives?

What’s really important about this program is the impact that it has on the careers of students involved, especially the “girls.” They are now women, and it has led them to many professions, such as pharmacy, medical fields, architecture, engineering and military academies. I believe that all would say that the Science Olympiad Program has been a factor in their career choices as well as helping them to develop skills enabling them to succeed in the world today. It is not just an academic program, but a program that develops life skills necessary for them to be successful in the competitive word that they are part of at this present time.


Do you keep in touch with any of your former students?

We have reached the wonderful part of our life where we get to see how the program has affected lives.  We are attending a celebration tonight for one of our past students who just graduated from Notre Dame and has a wonderful job in Boston as an architect. Her sister, who was also in the program, is a very successful woman in the financial world. We are attending a wedding in September for a past student who is presently working in the White House, and he also has a brother who made great sacrifices serving our country. There are also many students who have graduated from McIntosh that would say being part of the Science Olympiad Program helped to get them into very good colleges.

Two highlights in my career have been being selected as Star Teacher by two Star Students of McIntosh. Both were Science Olympiad Students, and both received perfect scores on the SAT. It was an honor, especially as a middle school teacher, to be there for Craig Western in 2007 and Brahma Natarajan in 2011.


Back in 2001, you had recently become a grandmother. Tell us about your grandchildren.

We have two more grandchildren since 2001, and the four of them, Hannah and Landon Wilde, Alex and Anna Marie Pakulski are a major part of my life. The two older girls, Hannah and Alex, now in middle school at Booth, are also part of the Science Olympiad Program. One can’t have better rewards than that!!


5 Tips for Teaching Teens About Money

teen money shutterstock_95045650

As children blossom into young men and women, most insist on planning and running their own lives. Parents worry about all the basic essentials for their kids’ independent living, like housing, eating properly, staying warm, being careful at night and more. But most parents forget to teach their youngsters one of the most important lessons of all – financial responsibility. The resulting turmoil can spell disaster for a child’s future.

Consider this: The average young adult amasses $45,000 in debt by the time they turn 29, according to a recent PNC Bank report.

“This generation of 20-somethings was raised during an economically-thriving period,” says financial expert Mark Hansen, author of Success 101 for Teens ( “Undisciplined spending habits, student and car loans, and a tough job market have stymied their financial growth. Perhaps the worst culprit is financial ignorance, but we can count this as a lesson for future 20-somethings.”

For young people, organizing finances can be intimidating to the point of prohibitive, he says.

“We need to have a curriculum in schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, that ensures our kids graduate with financially literacy,” he says. “From balancing a checkbook to understanding what it means to pay – and earn – interest, kids need basic money management skills to survive in the world, and most aren’t getting them.”

Hansen says all teens should know and practice so they can control their financial destinies:

• Saving for dreams – the three-envelope method: Use the first envelope for your day-to-day expenses: gas or lunch money. Pause before blowing this money at the movie theater or a fast-food restaurant! Envelope No. 2 is for short-term goals, which might be clothing or a new laptop. The third envelope is for long-term goals such as a car, college or a “future millionaire club” fund.

• How to create a budget: A budget lets us know what’s possible, and not possible, with money. There are six steps to creating a budget. 1. List all of your expenses. 2. List all income. 3. List monthly expenses. 4. Add up these lists separately. 5. Tweak your budget so you can meet your expenses with money left over for savings. 6. Review your budget every week.

• How to set and follow through on goals: First, figure out what your current finances are, then determine what they will be in the future — one year out, then two years out, then four years later, etc. How will you get to your one- or two-year goal? You need a plan, and most of the time that means either earning more money, spending less, or a combination of the two. Finally, you have to stick to your plan in order for it to work.

• Understanding interest rates, such as credit cards: Interest is a fee paid for using someone else’s money. Simple interest is straightforward: 5 percent accrued in your bank account with $100 yields $5 in interest at the end of the year. Compound interest, however, means ever-increasing amounts. This is crucial to understanding debt you may take on from lenders. Know what you are borrowing, and the terms thereof. Just as your money can work for you in a bank account, money borrowed can work against you if it is not paid back in a timely manner.

• How to write checks and balance a checkbook: These days, it’s easier than ever to review accounts online, which automatically tracks exchanges. HOWEVER, banks do make mistakes, which is why it’s wise to track your accounts independently. Ask. Don’t be embarrassed. Banks are putting a premium on service and want to establish a positive relationship with young customers.  If you have a question, speak to someone at the bank. As you take control of your money, you’ll also take control of your life.

About Mark Harmen: A successful businessman, a former Palm Beach County, Fla., elected school board member and motivational speaker, Mark has dedicated his life to helping young people overcome obstacles and deal with the challenges of daily living. Struck by a car and nearly killed as a child, Mark fought back through positive actions and reactions to all that he had to overcome. As a result, he relates to teens in a very special way.  Through books such as, “Success 101 for Teens: Dollars and Sense for a Winning Financial Life,” and seminars, Mark Hansen is driven to make an impact on teens and young adults and to empower them to rise above and triumph over life’s obstacles.

Local Student Publishes Research on Autism

Mindy James


Clayton State Psychology Masters Student Mindy James Drawing Widespread Professional Recognition

Morrow, Ga., Mar. 28, 2012 — One of the first cohort students in Clayton State University’s M.S. in Psychology program is receiving significant professional recognition for her work as a second year student in the University’s Master of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology.

Mindy James, a resident of Peachtree City, has had her thesis survey, “Access and Utilization of Support Services by Families Affected with an Autism Spectrum Disorder,” linked on the Autism Speaks Research Participation page;

Mindy James

In addition, James will also be presenting at two professional conferences; at the Georgia Psychological Society this coming weekend, and at Clayton State’s Third Annual Academic Conference on Friday,

Apr. 6. James will be graduating in the first class of the M.S. in Psychology program, in August 2012.

“We are very proud of her accomplishments,” says Dr. Donna McCarty, chair of the Department of Psychology at Clayton State. “We have 29 applicants for the program this spring, and we are very excited about the growth in the program and the development of our current students into professionals that will benefit the community in many ways.”

“I am inordinately proud of this student’s work,” adds Dr. Deborah Deckner-Davis, associate professor and coordinator of the Master of Science in Psychology program.

The purpose of James’ study is to learn more about families affected by an autism spectrum disorder; specifically, the diagnostic experience, access and utilization of different services, and the families’ perceptions about the adequacy of these resources.


The Clayton State Department of Psychology offers two distinct tracks of study. The Applied Developmental Psychology track was the first of its type in the State of Georgia when it was rolled out in 2010. The Clinical Psychology track began in fall 2011. Both of the tracks lead to professional masters degrees designed to serve community needs and therefore include field experiences in the form of internships or clinical supervision so that graduates are prepare for employment.

For more information on the M.S. in Psychology at Clayton State, go to the Department of Psychology’s special website for the program, The website includes application information, degree requirements, courses, payment information, academic policies, important dates, class schedules, contact information, and FAQs.

For more information on Clayton State’s Third Annual Academic Conference, go to;

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.



Spare the Rod, Try Love and Logic


Whoever coined the phrase, “Good morning” never stepped foot in my house before 9 a.m., because around here, weekday mornings are anything but.

Sure, mornings start off good enough, until it’s time for my sixth-grader and me to leave for school. Despite my friendly reminders—Don’t forget your book bag. Do you have your instrument? Do you have enough lunch money?—my son inevitably forgets something, like the book bag, clarinet, or lunch money I asked about. What follows—(me) shouting and threatening punishments—never nets a different result the following morning, and by the time I pull up to my son’s school and drop him off at 8:30, I am flat-out exhausted, irritated and adamant that there has to be a better way!

It turns out, there is. It’s called parenting with Love and Logic, and it’s a philosophy of child rearing that was introduced by Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline, M.D. in 1977. The approach employs easy-to-use techniques that allow parents to be loving, but firm, while forcing children to accept responsibility for or suffer the consequences of, their actions. You could consider it the opposite of “helicopter parenting,” in which the parents “hover” in order to make sure that their child is doing everything right and perfectly all the time, and consequently zoom in and intervene if he doesn’t. The Love and Logic school of thought emphasizes that this approach denies the child the opportunity to take responsibility for himself, which will make it harder in life for him to make responsible choices. It also effectively ends many (or most) battles for control between parents and children, creating a space for a more harmonious relationship. In the end, children become more respectful and responsible and parents enjoy more fun and less stress in raising their kids.

Joy Conklin, LPC, NCC, NCSC, is a counselor at Burch Elementary School in Tyrone. She facilitated L&L programs in Fayette County schools and churches for seven years, and says the techniques are powerful because they’re practical. “We want kids to realize there are consequences. We have to allow them to deal with those consequences,” she says. “Love and Logic gives educators another tool to offer parents other than spanking and yelling, and it works. It really works.”

Lori Thomas, a teacher at Oak Grove Elementary in Peachtree City, knows first-hand what a difference L&L can make. She used the technique in parenting her own daughter, now 15. She recalls having bedtime power struggles with her then-three year-old child, before she’d ever heard of L&L. “I was struggling with getting her to go to bed. She would constantly get up in the middle of the night and say, ‘Mommy this,” or ‘Mommy that.’ For a working mom, that was stressful,” Thomas remembers. She learned about L&L from a school counselor and decided to try it for herself. “I couldn’t control when my daughter was tired, but I could control when she woke up. So, I explained that her bedroom light could stay on, but when she was tired, she needed to go to sleep. Each day at 6 a.m., breakfast was ready and she had to get up. After a few sluggish mornings, she realized very quickly on her own when it was time to go to bed. To this day, she’s a night owl, but I’ve never struggled with her getting up and getting ready early,” Thomas says.

Let my son stay up during school nights until he gets tired? No way will that happen, the control freak/helicopter parent in me protests. After all, he would be too tired and unable to focus on his schoolwork the next day, which means his grades might suffer. But, Thomas explains, my wanting to protect my son from experiencing any pain is precisely the reason I’m constantly so stressed out. “Kids learn pretty quickly that they are responsible for their own choices. The more you do for them, the less you’ll prepare them for the life in front of them. They have to realize, ‘Mom’s not going to save me,’” she says.

And it’s never too soon or too late for children to learn that lesson. According to the Love and Logic website, the best time to start using the techniques is before your child can walk. But the approach works, regardless of whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, L&L’s founders say. The key is to use empathy in disciplining your children. Love and Logic emphasizes having respect and dignity for your children, even while teaching them hard lessons. Thomas, who started using L&L when her daughter was three, learned this when the dinner table became a battleground. “She went through a phase when she didn’t want to eat dinner but she wanted snacks. I wouldn’t give her snacks, and she would be hungry. I would say, ‘I’m so sorry that you’re hungry. Breakfast is at 7 a.m. We’ll eat a good breakfast then, but until then, I’m sorry.’ I would feel so guilty, but I had to let it go. I had to walk away,” she says.

Conklin says Thomas took the right approach. “We want to protect them from hurt, but if you take it from the perspective that this is going to be much less painful for you and for them now than if they’re 20 facing felony charges, it’s easier,” she says.

Is it really that easy, I wonder? Determined to find out and have a stress-free, pleasant morning for once, I decide to try Love and Logic on my own child. One morning, after we finish breakfast and prepare to head out the door for school, I begin my routine of rapid-fire reminders: Got your instrument? Your lunch money? Your hat? “Check, check, check,” my son replies. And then, as we’re pulling out of the driveway en route to school, he says the words I’ve gotten so used to hearing: “Oh man! I forgot my clarinet and I have band practice today!” I take a deep breath, as my stomach knots up and I fight the urge to turn around and go back home so he can get his instrument. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” I say, as apologetically as I can muster. “I told you to lay everything out by the door last night so you wouldn’t forget. You’re going to have to sit through practice without it, because I’m just too busy to bring it to you today.”

My son sinks back into his seat, silent, no doubt wondering what punishment his band teacher will dole out. When I pull up to the curb at school, he gets out and I tell him I love him and to have a good day. I drive off and exhale loudly. Although it hurt me to see him head to class upset and worried, I take comfort, hoping this one little revolt on my part will help him to anticipate the consequences of his actions, sparing him much bigger shame or pain in the future and helping him grow into the responsible man that I want him to someday be.



Peggy Thomas, She’s Positively Successful

Joe, Peggy and their dog , Cooper, enjoying life.

Photos by Marie Thomas

We’ve all heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In other words, sometimes life presents us with obstacles, and we have to turn them into opportunities.

But when given lemons, entrepreneur Peggy Thomas doesn’t settle for lemonade; instead, she’ll recruit your apples and my oranges, and make fruit salad.

Peggy is fabulous at 50. She exudes positive energy and warmth. She’s happily married and enjoys her two well-adjusted teenagers—one of whom, her son Kevin, has Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism. And in the true spirit of lemons and lemonade fruit salad, she’s taken her experience in advocating for her son and built a successful education-based business.

This year, Peggy will lead the Fayette Chamber of Commerce as Chairman of the Board.

Born to be in Business

Peggy Odum Thomas was raised by her parents with her three sisters in Greensboro, N.C. Peggy’s dad owned an electrical and plumbing supply business. He and her mother worked hard, but both struggled with alcoholism. Peggy’s mom also battled breast cancer. Probably due to high medical bills, Peggy wasn’t encouraged to go to college. After high school, Peggy worked in the retail industry for a year. That Thanksgiving, her mom had a request. “She made us all divide up her stuff, all the furniture and pictures and china.” It was cancer, again, and this time it was untreatable.

Because of the strain on the family, Peggy’s father asked her to move back home and work for his business. At age 20, Peggy traveled four states and gained valuable sales experience.

After her mother’s death, Peggy wanted to move to Richmond with her sister and applied for a job selling copiers there. The owner said to Peggy, “We like salespeople who are hungry. Are you hungry?” She answered, “Yeah, this is my third interview here, and I drove four hours.”

“He didn’t laugh,” Peggy remembers, “but I sold a lot of copiers for him.”

In the meantime, Peggy was considering going to college, but it didn’t seem to make sense since she was already making a good living.

“It was 1982, and I was making $35,000 a year,” she says. “And I put $35,000 on one hand and ramen noodles on the other. I weighed it back and forth and didn’t look back.”

Personal Business Takes Flight

Joe, Peggy and their dog , Cooper, enjoying life.

About that time, Peggy met Joe Thomas, a tall, handsome Air Force pilot. “I liked Peggy because she was optimistic,” Joe says. “She liked her job.” He was 29, she was 27.

“He and I talked into the wee hours of the night,” recalls Peggy. Joe shipped off to England, but stayed in touch. “He wrote me these hilarious letters. One postcard said, ‘I went down to the pool and all these girls were topless, so I took off my top, too.’”

When Joe returned from England, he immediately came to see Peggy, and the relationship strengthened. Peggy became fast friends with Joe’s mom while dating him long distance for two years. “She told him, ‘You’d better marry that girl,’” Peggy laughs. “And he listened to his mom.”

“We had a traditional military wedding and a priest who liked to gamble in Vegas,” says Joe. “He started the ceremony, ‘Life is like a cheeseburger. . .’” They picked him because Peggy sold him a copier.

Corporate Business Copied

Joe and Peggy moved to California, and Peggy began a corporate sales job with Sharp Electronics. “I’d been working for a local distributor, so the corporate staff knew me,” she explains. “When I interviewed with them, I said, ‘I don’t have a college degree.’ And they said ‘That’s okay, we’ll give you a waiver.’” She covered California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii for Sharp.

Her rise in the company was fast. Terri Ameen, a friend and business associate of Peggy’s since her single days, remembers, “Even as a young person, she was on top of the game. She was a local salesperson who went national. She rises to the top with her leadership skills, common sense, and her people skills.”

Peggy and Joe in the Canary Islands on a family vacation in June 2011

On one occasion, Peggy had to compete with eight of the best salespeople at Sharp on demonstrating a complex new copier. It was a high pressure situation—and she started off with a mistake. “I had pressed copy without putting an original in,” she remembers, “so I said, ‘Look, it’s a copy of a polar bear in the snow.’ And they all laughed.” Peggy won a free vacation.

“I was shocked. The others had so much more experience than me,” Peggy says. It was her approachability and her sense of humor that they appreciated.

For Peggy and Joe, marriage was good, too. Joe explains, “I was home two months, gone two months flying U2s. She was flexible with that.” Also, Joe wasn’t threatened by Peggy’s success. “She made twice as much as I did,” Joe says, “and I always said that’s fantastic. You can make ten times. Why wouldn’t you want your wife to be successful?”

The End of Business as Usual

Unfortunately, Peggy’s corporate career ended in a crash—literally. On a mountain biking trip with a friend in Lake Tahoe, she hit a rock and lost consciousness. Her serious head injury—leaving her seeing double for the next six months—meant that she could not work awhile.

Peggy and Joe decided it was time for a family. From the beginning, that’s what Peggy had wanted out of life. “I had a goal that I’d be a stay at home mom and raise my kids,” says Peggy.

Their first child, Kevin, was born at 34 weeks, weighing three and a half pounds. Kevin had mild cerebral palsy and other physical problems that required multiple surgeries in his infancy.

As he grew older, it became clear that Kevin had sensory issues. Peggy would try to talk him through it, narrating their day together. “I would carry him in a backpack at the grocery store, and say, ‘We’re going into the grocery store and I know you don’t like the lights. You can hide your head if you need to. We’ll only be in here 20 minutes.’”

“I found out that was really important,” Peggy continues. “Kids with Asperger’s want to know their schedule. Because we were watching the cerebral palsy and sensory issues, we did the right stuff for his Asperger’s.”

More Baby Business

Daughter Carol, Peggy and son Kevin and at a chorus concert at Starrs Mill High School.

Two years later, at her father’s funeral, Peggy’s aunt told her, “When God takes a life, he gives a life. And it’s you, you’re pregnant.” Whether vision or superstition, Joe and Peggy’s daughter Carol was born nine months later at a healthy nine and a half pounds.

By then Peggy and Joe were living in Florida. Joe had retired from the Air Force and found a job with Delta. Peggy was a full-time mom, but she was finding it difficult to make sure Kevin was getting a good education.

Joe explains, “When Kevin was going into kindergarten, his Pre-K teacher recommended a classroom with kids who couldn’t talk or move. Peggy said, ‘No, we’re not putting him in there,’ against the experts, both the teacher and the county psychologist. She followed her own beliefs.”

They pulled Kevin out of Florida’s public school, putting him in Catholic kindergarten. It was the right decision. By the end of that school year, Kevin was reading at a second-grade level.

However, as Peggy remarks, “We didn’t want to live in a place where they felt that secluding kids with special needs was a good way to educate them.” Peggy and Joe believed in public school, so they searched for a place with more inclusive and progressive special education programs. They found Fayette County and subsequently relocated to Peachtree City.

Now How About a Business

Joe, Peggy, and Mark Lucas, CEO of Club Z! Inc, receiving a franchise customer service award in August 2010

Soon, with both Kevin and Carol settled in school, Peggy and Joe decided to begin something new and start a business. None of the franchises they researched had the flexibility they wanted, until they found Club Z! In-Home Tutoring.

Peggy and Joe bought their Club Z! franchise Nov. 3, 2004, planning on having a part-time business. Club Z! central told them they should be able to enroll one or two kids each week. But to their surprise, after opening in January 2005, they had enrolled 28 kids in the first month.

“Suddenly I was working full time,” Peggy says.

Her Club Z! franchise manual instructed not to invest in the local Chamber of Commerce. “But our Chamber has a very strong Partner in Education program. That’s just a smart business move, to get involved in the schools when you have a tutoring business,” says Peggy.

As part of their Partner in Education participation, Peggy and Joe worked closely with McIntosh High School to develop a program they could use to screen students and raise their SAT scores. Peggy and Joe turned it into a fundraiser for the guidance department. They extended the SAT program to all Fayette County high schools.

“We have raised and given $17,572 to Fayette County high schools. That’s over 875 kids. Now we’re writing that program for the whole country for Club Z!,” said Peggy. Because of this program, Club Z! won Partner in Education of the Year from the Fayette Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

Business the Positive Peggy Way

Peggy and the Tutor Hall of Fame board. Club Z! has between 75-100 tutors at any one time, and since tutors work in their students’ homes, Peggy and Joe don’t see them in person very often. The board with the tutors’ photos is kept in their office so that they can look at them when they talk to them on the phone.

Peggy’s work in the education arena didn’t go unnoticed by the business community. The Fayette Chamber awarded Club Z! with Small Business of the Year, in 2007, their third year in business.

Peggy’s natural abilities to inspire, motivate and lead others were also noticed. Soon, Peggy was on the Fayette Chamber Board, and quickly on their leadership ladder. This year she’s the Chairman.

Along with her strong leadership style, Peggy makes strong personal connections. She’s made a great friend in Fayette Chamber President Virginia Gibbs. “Peggy is such a sharp, intelligent person. She looks to how she can best support the Chamber as a servant leader,” says Virginia, continuing, “We met through the chamber, but we’ve got an amazing friendship. How do you not like Peggy?”

Together, Peggy and Virginia tackled Operation Boot Camp after winning a silent auction bid together. “There we were at 5:30 a.m. in the mud. We had to do an alliteration of our names to introduce ourselves. Positive Peggy was hers. It was so appropriate. Whatever challenge she faces, she keeps that perspective,” says (Victorious) Virginia.

This year Peggy’s theme for leadership is Positively Fayette. Her focus is on maximizing the business community through the strength of the Fayette Chamber. She sees good beginnings ahead.

About the Business of Faith

Club Z! office staff Jeffre Ray and Michelle Brown, Peggy and Joe celebrate the five-year anniversary of their business

“Peggy is a woman of substance. She has a deep spiritual side. She always finds the best in people. She has my respect,” says Virginia Gibbs.

Faith has been important to Peggy since she was a child. In spite of their struggles, Peggy’s parents faithfully took her and her sisters to church each week. When her mother was sick, her faith was a refuge for Peggy, and she wanted the same foundation for her children.

Peggy and Joe had raised the kids in the Catholic faith, but with Joe’s work travel and her kids’ boredom with church ritual, they got out of the habit of going. Then, the Thomas family found Heritage Christian Church, close to their Fayetteville home. “It had what I was missing: relationships and a purposeful warmth,” says Peggy.

Last year, Peggy experienced a spiritual renewal. “I sat in the pew and cried every week. I felt a resurgence in my faith. I was baptized on Easter.”

For Peggy, God was more and more evident in her everyday life. Her daughter asked her to lead her group at church.

Peggy didn’t see it at first. “My schedule was so packed. And I didn’t feel qualified.” But she took on the group of 13-year-old girls, and is grateful that she did, because of how she’s been able to impact their lives and connect with her daughter. “I needed to be there. I understand my daughter so much better now that I am spending this time with these girls,” says Peggy.

Her First Business, Her Kids

While Club Z! is a student-focused business, Peggy makes it her business to take care of her children first. Carol, who is now a freshman in high school, thinks that her mom is doing great. “She’s really caring,” Carol remarks. “I look up to her because of what she does in the community. She has a big heart.”

Peggy knows that perfection isn’t the key to parenting; it’s something that runs much deeper. “If you love your kids—and my parents loved us—they’ll turn out okay.”

Carol, Peggy and Kevin in the Canary Islands in June 2011

Peggy encourages Carol’s athletics and her desire to cook. Carol continues, “I’ve never felt second fiddle. I think they raised us in a way to accept other people. Kevin sometimes needs more than me. Sometimes I have to do more than Kevin. My mom has done a good job of raising us to love one another.”

Having an exceptional kid like Kevin, who is now a junior in high school, has changed the direction of Peggy’s life. And having Peggy as a mom means that Kevin has achievements you might not normally see for a kid with Asperger’s. Kevin, in spite of his challenges, has published movie reviews and editorials for the last five years. He credits his mom: “She’s the reason why I’m writing stuff. The Citizen asked for kid reviewers, and she got me to do it.”

It’s a common misconception that Peggy actually does the tutoring in her business. From her basement office, she coordinates an army of 80-100 tutors, all with at least a four-year degree in different subject matter expertise.

Over the course of her work with Kevin and with Club Z!, Peggy has heard disheartening reports about bright kids with Asperger’s winding up as couch potatoes. So, consistent with her let’s-make-a-difference ethos, she’s bringing experts to Fayette for a conference on helping students with Asperger’s attend college. (see article below).

Education IS her Business

Peggy’s experience with Kevin and with countless clients since has given her a unique education. So she applies these great skills for Club Z!’s clients.

“When a student is newly diagnosed with a learning disability, it can feel like a maze. The teachers are on one side of the table, the parents on the other,” says Peggy, “but I become the bridge. I understand the systemenough to navigate it. I go to the parent-teacher meetings, and we don’t charge for that. I report to the tutor. We are able to pinpoint the challenges more quickly and do very specific tutoring to make that child become an independent learner.”

Joe, Peggy and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Joe, as Vice Wing Commander of Dobbins ARB, was asked to host Gov. Perdue for a Braves Game. Peggy and the former governor discussed the number of waivers for support given to people with disabilities in the state.

Peggy likes to say that her goal is for Club Z!’s tutors to work their way out of a job. It’s gratifying to see students win—with higher SAT scores, better chemistry grades, learning to read or conquering math fears.

How to Succeed in Business

Peggy is a natural business success. Part of that is because her marriage works so well as a business partnership. When Joe’s not flying he handles the operations of Club Z!, from finding tutors to finding process efficiencies. Peggy’s arena is in managing people and developing the business. Together, they are unstoppable.

Still, finding balance between business and personal time from day to day can be challenging. “When I was a stay-at-home mom, I always took time for myself. Now that’s a problem for me,” she admits. While Peggy likes to read and to garden, she jokes that her front lawn is a “disaster of patchy soil.”

But Peggy’s busy looking to the future, rather than lamenting her lawn. She feels good about where her life, business and the Fayette Chamber are headed.

“If we focus on the true needs of the businesses and are transparent and open in our dealings, then the entire community will benefit,” Peggy reflects. “God has blessed me with these opportunities to show that you can do the right thing and still succeed in business.”

And she’s positively right.


College and Career Path for Kids with Asperger’s

Peggy Thomas has had college on her mind a lot lately, and not just because she facilitates SAT prep high school students; her son Kevin, who has Asperger’s, is a high school junior.

In true Peggy-fashion, she has researched and found all kind of resources for kids with Asperger’s. And she’s not keeping them to herself.

Peggy has put together College Bound Conference for Students with Asperger’s and other Assorted Learning Differences.

Asperger’s is a form of autism, characterized by a higher functioning individual who often excels at one or more subjects. Peggy believes that students with Asperger’s have incredible untapped potential and wants to see that they are given every opportunity.

The College Bound Conference is Saturday, March 3, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., including a continental breakfast and lunch. Held at Grace Evangelical Church, 164 Flat Creek Trail in Fayetteville, the conference features best-selling author John Elder Robison, who wrote Look Me in the Eye. Several other experts will be presenting from both education and experience standpoints.

College Bound Conference is made possible by the MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning through Hallman Walters Wealth Management. Tickets are $95 for adults and $59 for students. Register at Those with questions can contact Raissa Chandler at 770-713-6731 or For more details, visit

“We’ve brought together people who truly understand creating a path to success for students with Asperger’s. We need to give our kids with challenges every opportunity, and this is a good start,” says Peggy.



5 Minutes With Fayette Woman Peggy Thomas

Hear Peggy’s thoughts on parenting, education, business and more in a supplemental video interview.  Follow this link to the video, or visit our YouTube channel at:


Fayette Woman Magazine with School Counselors in Seattle

Heather Sherwood and Kelly Hubbard

Heather Sherwood and Kelly Hubbard

Heather Sherwood and Kelly Hubbard took along a copy of Fayette Woman while attending the 2011 American School Counselor Association Annual Conference in Seattle. Both women are school counselors in Fayette County and were present to receive the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) Award for their respective school.

College: It’s a Family Affair

The Miller ladies: from left, Kimberly (daughter), Lori (mother) and Allison (daughter).  All three are attending Clayton State together.

The Miller ladies: from left, Kimberly (daughter), Lori (mother) and Allison (daughter). All three are attending Clayton State together.

Clayton State University student Lori Miller, who lives in Peachtree City, is delighted that she is sharing her college experience with her daughters Allison Miller and Kimberly Miller. Having previously homeschooled her daughters, Lori notes they were used to being in the “classroom” together.

“My girls and I are really enjoying our college experience together! It is definitely a unique privilege to get to attend classes with each other,” she says.

Lori is currently taking most of her core classes at the Clayton State – Fayette instructional site and her sciences at the main campus in Morrow, with the intention of applying for the Clayton School of Nursing.

“I hope to obtain a BSN degree,” she says. “I am an in-home caregiver for elderly people and have wanted to be an RN since I was a girl. That’s where I’m headed!” Lori would like to work as a medical RN in Piedmont-Fayette Hospital, and later as a home health or hospice nurse, visiting and caring for elderly clients in their own homes.

Then there’s Lori’s eldest daughter, Allison, who is also taking her core courses at Clayton State – Fayette and is planning to major in Health and Fitness Management. Her goal is to become a Pediatric Physical Therapist.

“I’ve enjoyed college and am very thankful to be getting ahead,” she says. “I very much enjoy going with my mom and sister.”

Kimberly, Lori’s other daughter, is majoring in English Secondary Education with the goal of becoming a high school English teacher. She’s also a Clayton State – Fayette student.

“In the future, I’d love to get married, have a family, and work with youth; but really, I’ll be happy with whatever God brings my way,” she says. “I just want to make a difference in this world for good, loving and serving people and God.”

The family agrees that there are major advantages to going to school together, which include being able to share most of their books, carpooling, and having discussions and study sessions for upcoming tests.

“We each have strengths in different areas and are able to help one another understand tough concepts and remind each other when papers are due, as well as encourage each other when things get tough,” Lori comments. “It’s wonderful to have support at home when one of us gets stuck, especially in math! For me, it’s been almost 24 years since I graduated from high school, so I’m quite rusty in math. It’s truly a blessing for me to have my daughters be able to help me understand those tough math concepts.

“It’s also very helpful for us to be on the same schedule so that we sort of tailor our social activities around our school demands. Basically, our home environment is very conducive to studying with study nooks everywhere. And even my seventh grade son is benefiting from the studious atmosphere, since it encourages him to keep focused on his studies as well. We do play hard though, after our school and work obligations are met!”

Kimberly and Allison agree. “It’s been really rewarding to go to college with my family because it’s drawn us closer together, and we’re able to help each other since we each have different strengths and weaknesses,” says Kimberly. “It’s also neat to know that we’ll all graduate with college degrees around the same time.”

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

Facebook fans advise on middle school turmoil

For the kids entering middle school, practicing the new routine is key

For the kids entering middle school, practicing the new routine is key

Starting middle school can be a rough ride for both kids and parents. First, there’s the novelty of changing classes; along with that comes five or six different teachers, learning how to operate a locker, handling an in-flux schedule, and arriving to classes on time. Students are expected to handle more responsibility and deal with increased pressure. Then there’s the other stuff: middle-school kids are entering puberty and coping with their changing bodies, interests and emotions. And of course, all of those rampant hormones flying around creates social drama, and lots of it.

So we asked our Facebook fans for a little help. For those of you who’ve been there, done that, we asked, what was the most difficult aspect of middle school for your children, and how did you help them to get through it? What’s the most important thing that parents need to know in order to help their children succeed in middle school? Our FB crew gave us some of fantastic suggestions on not only how to help middle schoolers survive, but also to help them thrive.

New School, New Rules

For the kids just entering middle school, practicing the new routine is key. “Walk their schedule with them before the first day of 6th grade – in order, pointing out the rest bathrooms, nurse, counselors, etc. Also, after the first day ask if he was able to open his locker, and if not, after school take him up there and teach him how,” says Beth N. “Kids this age are too embarrassed to ask for help and their uncertainties will be relieved in at least knowing the basics about their surroundings.”

“Middle schoolers get strange new habits parents haven’t seen before,” comments Michelle H. “They lie, especially about having homework (usually they will have homework, at least in math), and they might even get their first B or worse yet, their first C. It is not because they are a bad student or that they have a bad teacher; it is because the content in middle school subjects is much different than elementary school, and often times much harder. A lower grade is not the end of the world, but they do need encouragement to work harder, especially before they get into high school, where grades really count.”

Suzanne P. agrees that the most difficult aspect of middle school for her three boys was homework. “They were all the type to do well on quizzes and tests without having studied or done homework, but not doing the homework meant poor grades in the class.” Suzanne decided to let her sons deal with the consequences of their choices, even if that meant failing and repeating a grade. In addition to teaching her children to take responsibility, stepping back meant less parent-child conflicts. “Our household became more peaceful,” she says. “It was the best thing we could’ve done.”

Finally, “Be your child’s advocate!” remarks Susan S. “The squeaky wheel does get the grease, best teachers, best schedule, more gifted classes.”

Social Scene Survival

When it comes to the social life of middle schoolers, the consensus is that it’s rough stuff. “Our daughter had many more social issues than academic issues, and frankly, we never figured out how best to help with that,” Suzanne says. “It was the hardest part of her middle school years, but we survived.”

“I somehow managed to get three girls through middle school,” says Tami J. “It was tough. Kids are cruel, especially middle school girls. Having my kids in recreational soccer, basketball, or softball seemed to help them with their self-esteem, and they made some good friends, which are desperately needed during these difficult years.”

“Keep them busy with school activities, the more the better,” agrees Douglas B.

Body Changes (….in a word)

“Deodorant, deodorant, deodorant,” says Beth. “Boys and girls. Every day and after gym. The teachers will thank you, but more importantly kids can be cruel to the kid who stinks.”

Check what your child is doing on their computer

On the Home Front

Michelle points out that taking a step back from your involvement in your child’s academics doesn’t necessarily carry over to home life. “Check what your child is doing on their phone and on the internet,” she comments. “Good kids make bad mistakes too! Peer pressure is awful at this age and is often now stronger than parental influence!”

For Terri J., listening to your child is essential. “It’s important for the child to know that you are paying attention and not just standing there. Things get pretty hectic for them in middle school and it’s the parents’ job to guide their children, so this means pay attention.”

Susan also suggests that parents should create independent children. “Do not hover!” she remarks. “Rescue them one time each semester with forgotten homework, or lunch, or band instrument…after that, let them suffer the consequences of not remembering or being organized.”

Douglas explains that “As a parent, I think we knew the challenges they were about to face, but we kept our expectations high and didn’t give into the idea of just getting them through middle school. Focus on academics; they will need it in high school. Don’t fall into the trap of taking it easy on them.”

“Middle School is a long road,” adds Douglas. “Hang in there with them.”

Thanks to our Facebook fans for such wonderful advice! If you’d like to take part in our FB polls, look us up on Facebook under “Fayette Woman” and hit the “like” button.