Margaret Winn Holt Bio
Margaret Winn Monfort Holt, a lifelong resident of Lawrenceville, was born in her parents' home one block from the courthouse square, on September 26, 1924. She was the great, great granddaughter of Elisha Winn, considered the father of Gwinnett County, who built his home in Dacula in 1812. The first elections in Gwinnett County were held in his parlor in 1819. Winn personally selected the geographical center at that time for the county seat. He assisted in naming the new town Lawrenceville as well as laying out the streets. Elisha Winn helped start the Lawrenceville Academy for Boys in 1824 and the Female Seminary in 1836.
As part of the Lawrenceville Public Schools Centennial in 1995, Margaret Winn Monfort Holt began presenting the Elisha Winn Cup to the Most Outstanding Senior in History at Central Gwinnett-Lawrenceville High School. The recipient of this award is selected by the social studies department at Central and must have attended a Gwinnett High School all four years.
After her death in 1996, her family has continued presenting this award in her memory. This award represents the love and devotion she had for the Lawrenceville area schools. Below is list of Margaret Winn's activities,honors, and community involvement:
Valedictorian of the Class of 1941 at Lawrenceville High School
Member of the region championship teams in basketball and trac
Held state honors in debate, theatre, drama, art, and music
In 1945 became the second woman in the history of the University of Georgia to be named Valedictorian, earning a BA in Political Science with honors in English and Spanish
Selected to Phi Beta Kappa, Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Lambda Delta, and Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities
Served as Vice President of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and Pandora yearbook Associate Editor
Taught English and Spanish at UGA in 1946 to returning servicemen. Taught Spanish and English at Lawrenceville High School
Coached the girls' debate team and was the first female girls' basketball coach in Gwinnett County, winning region and state honors
Married to William Grady Holt, Jr. also of Lawrenceville, and raised three children: Rebecca Winn Holt Robers and Margaret Winn Holt Mathis of Lawrenceville, and William Grady Holt, III of New Haven, Connecticut. Margaret has four grandchildren: Rebecca Elizabeth Mathis, Christopher Reed Holt Roberts, Margaret Annette Mathis Bryant, and William David Roberts, Jr. She has four great grandchildren: Devan, Justin, Nicole, and Dalton Roberts. Her husband, three children, four grandchildren, and four great grandchildren attend or attended Lawrenceville or Gwinnett County Public Schools.
In the 1950's, she helped establish the PTA at Lawrenceville Elementary School and worked with Dora Gunter to help build a modern lunchroom for the "school on the hill". She worked on fundraisers and helped plant the landscaping around the high school grounds. She was active with the PTA from 1954 through 1985 and continued to work with the schools until her death in 1996. At one time, she served on the Local School Advisory Board at Cedar Hill Elementary as a Senior Citizen Representative and tutored students at the high school in Spanish and English.
Board of Trustees for the Gwinnett Historical Society where she worked tirelessly on fund-raising for the Elisha Winn House. Prior to her death, she requested funds to be given to the Elisha Winn House. In her memory, enough money was raised to put in a new heating and air conditioning system to help preserve the home.
Gwinnett Council for the Arts Board of Trustees where she helped establish the County Seat Players, a local theatrical group, which is still performing as the Gwinnett County Theater Group.
Board Member of Families First Foundation where she assisted in obtaining funds and grants to start the Lawrenceville Girls' and Boys' Club.
Chairman of the Lawrenceville Municipal Housing Board where she was instrumental in funding the establishment of the on site Community Police Station in the Sally Craig Apartment Complex. She helped secure the grants to modernize all of the public housing developments in Lawrenceville. She continued to be board chairman until her death in August 1996. She made sure that her work would continue for generations to follow.
Council Member of the Gwinnett County Swim League where she assisted in the formation of this summer recreation league in Gwinnett County, which is now one of the largest summer leagues in the country.
Also, Margaret organized the first high school varsity swimming program in the Gwinnett County Public Schools. She worked with the County Commissioners to establish the first indoor aquatic center at Mountain Park. She campaigned to keep the name Lawrenceville on the front of Central Gwinnett - Lawrenceville High School and lobbied to ensure that the high school received a theatre. Art, Music, and Drama Departments throughout Gwinnett County contacted her to help organize a group to lobby to keep those departments in the school curriculum. She worked many hours with them to help reach an agreement with the school board that would work to everyone's advantage. She continued for months to receive letters from people thanking her for caring about ALL of the children. As a member of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church, Margaret volunteered as a Sunday School teacher and church pianist for many years.
Margaret Holt's legacy will continue though her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who continue to live in Lawrenceville and attend schools in the area. She never refused anyone who needed her help improving her hometown, local schools, or her surrounding community. In 2000, the Gwinnett Daily Post selected Margaret as one of the county's Top 100 Shapers for the 20th Century. Even in her death, her love for her community continues through all of the lives that she has touched.
Margaret Winn Holt Elementary School opened its doors for learning to 1,189 students on August 9, 2004. The previous July 22, the newly-completed school welcomed students, parents, and the community to an open house, to experience the beautiful new facility. Teachers and staff began their new careers during preplanning, which opened with a candlelight ceremony at midnight, August 2! Staff met for the first time that night as a unit, and recommitted themselves to their careers as educators, promising to bring their best to the students every day.
The school dedication was held at 3:30 p.m., on Sunday, September 26, 2004, which would have been Mrs. Holt’s 80th birthday. In attendance were members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education, CEO/ Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks, Mrs. Holt’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, friends, business and political leaders, and her very close friend and pastor, Rev. Joeann Malone, who gave a rousing invocation. Almost 100% of the staff was in attendance as was the first PTA Board.
A Title I Targeted Assistance School at its inception, Winn Holt Elementary earned schoolwide Title I status in the spring of 2006. In addition to the world-class AKS curriculum that the students learn, Winn Holt has offered PE, music art, computer technology, Creative Minds, vocabulary study, math, and science-literacy as “specials.” In keeping with Mrs. Holt’s lifelong dedication to civic enterprises, her namesake school has been honored as a Relay for Life Silver School for several years. The Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Environmental Award has been earned every year since 2004, thanks to the environmental efforts of the teaching staff. The school also has earned Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful’s highest honor, having been honored as a “Reaching Higher School.” In May of 2006, the school’s first principal, Dr. Jim Curtiss, was named one of Georgia’s Outstanding Principals by the state PTA.
The state of Georgia and Gwinnett County Public Schools has recognized Winn Holt Elementary for academic excellence throughout the years. Winn Holt earned the Title I Distinguished School/Title I Rewards School status each year until 2013 when that recognition was discontinued. It was a Platinum Award winner in 2011 for Greatest Gains in Percentage of Students Meeting and Exceeding Academic Standards and a Highest Progress Rewards School winner in 2012, 2017, and 2018. Also, Winn Holt was recognized by both the county and stat as a PBIS Operational School in 2017.
Margaret Winn Holt Elementary is a school dedicated to the pursuit of success for all involved: students, teachers, parents, and community members. The staff has embraced the concepts and practices of a professional learning community where meaningful, data-driven discussions about student learning are regularly held. That information translates into targeted instruction assisting those students who need more time and opportunity and challenging those who are mastering the AKS more readily. This practice highlights and supports our school motto, prominently displayed in our lobby: Learning for All… whatever it takes. It is what we believe… and, more importantly, it is what we do.