Community Service Award. This is given to the GMC alumnus who has demonstrated exemplary community service through long-term volunteering, having an impact on the quality of life for others, providing leadership and creativity in dealing with societal problems and serving as an inspiration to others.
Autumn Ellison Chapman has dedicated her entire professional and personal life to serving others. Autumn attended Georgia Military College Prep School and is a proud graduate of the Class of 1991. Throughout her time at GMC Prep, Chapman served as a football manager. She represented the senior class on homecoming court and was crowned Prom Queen in 1991. Chapman then attended Georgia College and State University and was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority serving as Recording Secretary. She graduated from GCSU with her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology in the spring of 1997.
Following her college graduation, Chapman embarked on a lifetime of service through her passion for education. She began her teaching career in the fall of 1997, teaching three-year olds at Baldwin County Head Start. She went on to teach special education at Baldwin High School, while also completing her master’s degree in special education in 2005. She then began teaching special education at Jones County High School, where she is still teaching today. Chapman teaches in the co-teaching setting in the English Language Arts Department. This year marks her 23rd year of teaching.
Chapman’s passion for children with special needs goes beyond the classroom. She currently is serving as the chairperson of the Jones County Special Olympics Board, which was established in 2004. At the time the Special Olympics was established in Jones County, she was teaching in the MOID classroom. Chapman soon became a certified coach and participated in Special Olympic Games across the state with her students. Leah Bodnarchuck, a fellow teacher in the MOID program, had the dream of starting a unified physical education class that would also be a part of the Special Olympics Program. Charles Gibson, principal of Jones County High School at the time, supported the dream, and it became reality in 2007. Chapman worked under Leah to help get the Unified program up and running, and she continues to serve as a coach for the program. In the spring of 2017, Chapman was nominated by Lauren Sheffield, Jones County Special Education Director, to receive the Special Education Impact Award. Autumn was nominated by her colleagues as Teacher of the Year for the Ninth Grade Academy in Jones County in 2017 as well.
In addition to her work with the special needs community, Chapman is dedicated to serving the Milledgeville community at large. She was a member of the Milledgeville Junior Women’s Club for several years. She also volunteered with the youth at First United Methodist Church for many years. Notably, Chapman has been a supporter and volunteer for the River of Life mission for 20 years. She started as a volunteer on a worksite, moved through the volunteer areas as needed, and she now serves as a River Girl and is the volunteer coordinator. River of Life normally has eight churches, from around Milledgeville and the state, gather in Milledgeville to paint and repair homes, build wheelchair ramps, and clean yards. GMC houses about 200 youth and counselors in GMC’s Baugh Barracks for this event. River of Life also has 100 adult volunteers who lead youth on the sites, serve meals, run the River barn, and do behind the scenes tasks each year.
Autumn’s husband, Steve Chapman, is a forester who works for National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. Her 14-year-old daughter, Millie Gray Chapman, started her educational journey at Georgia Military College Prep School in the 6th grade. She is a proud freshman and member of the Class of 2025.