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Division I College Football Star Makes $10,000 Cheez-It Donation to Dutchtown Elementary School in Honor of Former Teacher

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Stanford University football player Terian "The Playmaker" Williams II recently partnered with Cheez-It to donate $10,000 to Dutchtown Elementary School (DES) in honor of his former teacher Jerry Hayes.

“The act of this generous donation from Terian Williams, a former student who has risen to the heights of success as an NCAA Division I collegiate athlete, underscores the enduring impact of educators and schools in shaping the lives of their students,” said DES Principal Douglas Fletcher. “Through his extraordinary gesture, Terian not only honors his former teacher, Jerry Hayes, but also acknowledges the pivotal role that the Dutchtown Cluster played in his journey.”

“Terian’s gesture embodies everything the district strives for, particularly in shaping the whole student,” added HCS Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “Foremost among our goals is to establish a culture that sets up our students for success.”

Williams, an engineering major at Stanford, partnered with Cheez-It and the College Football Playoff Foundation (CFP) to honor his favorite teacher and mentor. Williams made the announcement to Hayes via a video call and presented him with branded Cheez-It items.

“I wanted to let you know how big an impact you had on my life,” Williams said in the call. “You taught me things about life that stuck with me throughout, and you made the classroom a safe place, not only for me but for other students."

Former Dutchtown Elementary Teacher Jerry Hayes


Hayes started teaching at DES in 2008, but his experience with Henry County Schools (HCS) started years earlier, as he served as a substitute teacher and later as a third-grade teacher at Wesley Lakes Elementary. At DES, he taught all subjects.

Hayes was also the department chair and chair of the leadership team at DES. He described the surprise announcement as one of the happiest moments of his life.

“I taught TJ in third and fourth grade, and it means a lot that I was selected out of all his teachers. I was taken aback,” Hayes said. “Some people teach for a job, but this is what happens when you teach from the heart.”

Hayes is regarded as a standout teacher who profoundly impacted parents, students, and his peers. His reputation for innovative teaching made learning fun, and his positive attitude and jovial personality endeared him to all who knew him.

Beyond academics, Williams and Hayes share a special bond. Hayes lost his son in 2010 when a vehicle struck him as he stopped on the interstate to render aid to a motorist. Hayes sees Williams as his adopted son, a role Williams readily embraces, and he strives continuously to make his mentor proud. Williams considers Hayes an inspiration and a key figure in his life and credits him for giving him a “jumpstart to greatness.”

HCS celebrated outstanding educators during its annual Teacher of the Year ceremony in October, highlighting educators’ pivotal role in shaping students’ futures. Hayes was named Teacher of the Year at DES in 2010.

“TJ made me proud,” Hayes shared. “I recognized his potential early on and knew he would be a success based on his work ethic. A lot of credit goes to his parents, who were always involved. His success speaks to what can happen when there is cooperation between teachers and parents.”

Cheez-It is one of the sponsors of the CFP Foundation’s primary platform, Extra Yard for Teachers, which supports positive educational outcomes and elevates the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering teachers. The program helps athletes celebrate teachers who inspired them to become excited about learning.

“The work of teachers matters,” Superintendent Davis added. “That simple truth speaks to the power of the teaching profession and its impact on every sphere of life. I have great admiration for our teachers, not only because it requires an extraordinary disposition to desire such a career, but because of their unwavering commitment to making teaching matter every minute of every day for every kid in every way.”

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 students to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.