"From borrowing money to build two schools which are Breakfast Point and Deerpoint Elementary, to the shooter in the board room and the recovery to get schools back open after the hurricane. It has been such a wide range of things over the years."
PANAMA CITY — Ginger Littleton still has the purse.
The Bay District School Board member used the now infamous purse during a 2010 meeting to fight off a gunman.
Littleton, who recently retired after serving 13 years on the board, summed up her career simply as being varied.
That’s probably an understatement.
RELATED: Bay District School Board remembers 2010 shooting
"From borrowing money to build two schools which are Breakfast Point and Deerpoint Elementary, to the shooter in the board room and the recovery to get schools back open after the hurricane," Littleton said about her longtime career. "It has been such a wide range of things over the years."
Littleton, who taught for 30 years before joining the board, said she believes there are things that are still similar since she’s been a part of the school board, but the demographics has changed. She said the schools are more segregated than they have ever been.
The last 13 months have been tough for Littleton and the school board since Hurricane Michael hit.
"When I first got on the board we might have one or two students a month that were Baker Acted," Littleton said. "Right now I can easily have five in a week and before they were always high school kids, but now they can be kindergarteners."
Littleton said the board started to notice an increase of Baker Acted children because of the poverty in the area prior to the hurricane. The storm just exacerbated the problem.
Ginger had the unique situation of working not just with Superintendent Bill Husfelt, but also with former Superintendent James McCalister.
"Mac (McCalister) was such a student advocate, he worked tirelessly to work with the district to do well," Littleton said. "For me he was just a gem to work with."
Littleton said she loved working with current Superintendent Husfelt too.
"He’s focused, he has good ideas and he has a good sense of budget and finance," Littleton said. "I trust him to propose things that are well thought out and based on fact and need."
If anybody has followed Littleton, then they know about the story she is famous for — the 2010 school board shooting where she fought gunman Clay Duke with her purse.
To her, it was a normal day at a meeting and the school board had just finished giving out awards. She recalled the room being full because of the awards ceremony.
"He (Clay Duke) walked to the podium, but it wasn’t a time when anybody could address the board," Littleton said. "He went over and did the circle on the wall (spray paint) and my next thought was we just repainted that wall."
She mentioned how kind Duke was because he had the mindset to let the women, the children and the audience leave. Duke only wanted the men on the board.
Littleton’s first thought was that the guys on the school board didn’t have anything besides a belt buckle to protect themselves.
"My very quick analysis was do I leave and find out that they’ve all been killed and can I live with myself if I did that," Littleton said. "Or do I try something to buy some time because I knew when people left they were calling 9-1-1."
Her first thought was the fire extinguisher in the hallway she was told to exit through, but knew it was going to make a lot of noise. She was left with one option; her purse to try and knock the gun out of his hand.
"I just thought ’well here goes,’" Littleton said. "He’s a big guy and so I got as far up to his head as I could."
Former District Safety and Security Chief Mike Jones later saved the school board by shooting Duke, who then killed himself.
Littleton’s purse became a sought after commodity following the ordeal. Her purse was auctioned on Ebay for $13,000 and a donor matched it.
The $26,000 went to Jones for his Salvage Santa charity. The donor that bought the purse didn’t want it so Littleton still has it.
Littleton said she will still continue her work as the director of the STEM Institute at FSU Panama City.
"It’s fun, I get to put together funding, ideas, training, and workshops," Littleton said. "I want all of our kids to have every door open that can possibly be open for them."