DUBLIN, Ga. — Dublin City Schools earned the 'Charter System of the Year' award from the Charter System Foundation, beating out eight other districts across the state. They only just switched the the charter system eight years ago.

Dublin City Schools gathered together Wednesday to celebrate their win.

Fourth grade teacher Christopher Lewis says their hard work paid off.

"I was very happy. I was glad to see something very positive that we're being recognized for," Lewis said.

The charter system foundation rated Georgia Charter Schools based on four categories: collaboration with local businesses and staff on all levels, changing policies to meet the needs of students, maintaining those changes overtime, and improved student achievement. 

RELATED: Retired Dublin and Laurens County educators gave decades to teaching careers

Susan Thornton says they beat out tough competition.

"We were competing against about eight different school districts, Atlanta Public Schools being one of them, and so for us to be recognized by the charter foundation is a true honor," Thornton said.

Superintendent Fred Williams received $10,000 for the district during the Charter System Foundation's Fall Conference and Awards luncheon in Athens earlier this month.

RELATED: Dublin football tradition: The history of the Shamrock Bowl

"It lets our community know that we're producing students who are college and career ready. We have a 96.1% grad rate at Dublin High School, which we're excited about, and through our flexibility in our charter system we're able to reach those types of gains and achievement," Williams said.

Thornton credits the opening of their Irish Gifted Academy as part of the reason for the win.

"Prime example of how charter flexibility has allowed us to meet the unique learning needs of the gifted population," Thornton said.

Ultimately, she says it's the teachers who make all the difference.

"We're doing the right work, and I'm just going to continue to do my part to help us receive more of these honors in the future, and hopefully we can build Dublin City Schools from there," Lewis said.

Williams plans to turn that $10,000 award into $500 "mini-grants" to fund special projects for each school.

RELATED: Dublin math teacher goes virtual, uses YouTube to help teach students and parents

This is Dublin City Schools' first state-level recognition from the Charter System Foundation.

They were up against Atlanta Public Schools, Baldwin County Schools, Barrow County Schools, Ben Hill County Schools, Dougherty County Schools, and Lumpkin County Schools.

STAY ALERT | Download our FREE app now to receive breaking news and weather alerts. You can find the app on the Apple Store and Google Play.

STAY UPDATED | Click here to subscribe to our Midday Minute newsletter and receive the latest headlines and information in your inbox every day.

Have a news tip? Email news@13wmaz.com, or visit our Facebook page.