North Gwinnett High School students Tricia Dang, left, and Shannen Patel sing to music in the gym on Saturday as they pack meals to support the nonprofit Feed My Starving Children. (Gwinnett Daily Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
There was a sea of hair nets in the gym at North Gwinnett High School on Saturday as the music was turned up to the familiar tunes of Taylor Swift and Walk the Moon.
As the high schoolers scooped ingredients into bags, they boogied and blared the lyrics alongside their friends.
It was a festive atmosphere as some 550 student volunteers scooped ingredients to package some 100,000 manna meals in two hours to support a partnership with the nonprofit Feed My Starving Children. To fund the project, the school set a $22,000 goal that’s outlined at tinyurl.com/everestdonate.
It was an action service project as many of the students participated as part of a organization to earn service points from about a dozen clubs, including Student Council, Beta, DECA and National Honor’s Society.
“We just have a rockin’ group of kids,” North Assistant Principal Kirsten Baker said. “But honestly, I think they are here because they know it’s important, and they get it.”
The final destination for these specific meals is unknown, but the nonprofit sends food around the world and partners with 70 countries, including Haiti and areas in Africa.
It’s the first year North has participated in this as a school, but several students have participated in similar packing events with Rising Church, which meets at the school on Sundays.
Baker took a group of students to Rising Church’s Big Peach Mobile Pack last year, and that event inspired the one on Saturday.
North senior Jordan Thomason organized the logistics and planning for the event as part of the North Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, and he saw it as a chance to build a skillset in those areas.
“I think today we’re truly making a difference,” Thomason said. “We talk a lot about things we can do, leadership we can develop at this school. But this is something where we kind of learn about it, and it’s action service.”
Trisha Connor, a teacher at Harbins Elementary School, reacts after being named Gwinnett’s Teacher of the Year during the 2016 Gwinnett County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Banquet at the Infinite Energy Forum in Duluth on Tuesday. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: David Welker)
DULUTH — In the days leading up to Tuesday’s reveal of the district’s Teacher of the Year, Trisha Connor tweeted that “relationships matter, get to know your students.”
On Monday, she shared a news article about the TOTY banquet and finalists with the hashtag #itsgettingreal.
About 26 hours after that was tweeted, real took on a whole new meaning for Connor, a STEM teacher at Harbins Elementary. At a banquet to honor all local Teachers of the Year across Gwinnett County Public Schools, Connor was named the district-wide Teacher of the Year out of 134 honorees and six finalists.
On the drive over to the Infinite Energy Center, Connor’s husband asked her if this kind of award was ever a possibility.
“Not even on your radar,” she recalled saying, later adding that the classroom is always the main focus.
Using technology to engage students is one of the main reasons Connor advanced through the process of applications and committee interviews that propelled her to be among the 25 semifinalists and then the Elementary Teacher of the Year.
“I love knowing that I can be in a system that’s progressive and forward-thinking to believe that (STEM) is possible,” she said. “We need to do this all the way down to the elementary level.”
The other level winners were Jennifer W. Sevier, a seventh-grade science teacher from Dacula Middle, and Alix McHardy, a chemistry and biology teacher at Norcross High.
The other finalists were Janelle Draper of White Oak Elementary, Felisha Strong of Richards Middle and Emily Heend of Phoenix High.
As bonuses for the awards, the finalists received $500, a gift card and basket. The level winners received a $750 annual stipend for as long as they’re employed in GCPS along with $500. As the winner, Connor receives a $1,000 annual stipend, a one-time $500 bonus, a crystal apple, ring, a laptop and a one-year car lease.
Harbins Principal Jennifer Chatham said Connor is active in the community and a leader in the school to design professional learning for staff and coaching opportunities to her colleagues.
“She seeks resources for students and teachers and within the community to help enrich the learning experiences in our school,” Chatham said. “She is the first to take the lead for an initiative.”
Chatham said Connor is always seeking ways to transform learning so that it is innovative and meaningful for students. Connor said mistakes are celebrated in her classroom so everyone can learn from them because, too often, today’s students are afraid to make mistakes.
During her finalist video, Connor called attention to promoting STEM for girls to fill jobs.
“We put enough boys into STEM jobs, but we’re not girls and that’s where we’re missing,” she said afterward.
Now a STEM specials teacher, Connor’s career spans 16 years, all with GCPS. Connor has spent many years working with children even outside of the classroom, including teaching them how to swim.
As a product of GCPS and teaching since 1999, Connor said almost every aspect of STEM has changed in that timeframe.
Active on Twitter, Connor said she strives to keep up with changes in learning to have a continuous growth mindset and interact with other educators for professional development.
Radloff Middle School was recently announced as a finalist for a grant of up to $100,000 for a fully-equipped science lab that could be won through upcoming online voting.
Northrop Grumman Foundation has announced the 20 public middle school semifinalists in its Fab School Labs science classroom makeover contest. It’s designed to drive student interest in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM, by giving public middle schools the opportunity to create the STEM lab of their dreams.
Later this month, semifinalists will be open to online voting, and Radloff’s day is Nov. 19.
Nearly 200 schools participated in the contest and shared their vision for what their dream science lab would consist of through videos, photos and essays. The Northrop Grumman Foundation Fab School Labs looks to highlight today’s middle school science facilities and the need to bring them up to the learning standards required to meet society’s demands.
The online voting will take place at the Fab School Labs Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FabSchoolLabs beginning Nov. 16. Then the Fab School Labs will determine the top five grant recipients. The winning schools will then work with a design and engineering company to build a lab with all of the tools, resources and furnishings needed.
To learn more about the Fab School Labs contest, visit www.FabSchoolLabs.com.
Technology-friendly flexible seating is coming to Peachtree Elementary thanks to a $9,000 grant from Georgia United Credit Union.
The Peachtree Corners school received a runner-up media center grant and a box of student supplies as part of Georgia United Credit Union’s School Crashers program.
A group of Peachtree Elementary students celebrate receiving a media center grant with Peachtree Elementary Principal Kara Dutton and Georgia United Credit Union’s Leigh Gant.
Media Specialist Mary Tyner wrote a nomination to enter Peachtree in the second annual School Crashers makeover program earlier this year.
Peachtree was one of five runner-up grant recipient schools selected from hundreds of entries. The school plans to use the grant to purchase technology-friendly flexible seating to promote collaborative learning.
Roberts Elementary receives STEM Partner award
Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, which is just down the road from Roberts Elementary School, recently gave the school its STEM Partner award.
The award is presented to schools that annually send more than 150 students to GEHC for science enrichment opportunities.
Principal Dion Jones is excited about the award and proud of the hard work his students and staff put in every day.
“This award is given to schools that put into practice STEM activities and participate in activities at GEHC yearly,” Roberts said. “This moves us in the direction of being a state-certified STEM school.”
Gwinnett teachers receive families awards
Cindy Apley-Rose, an eighth-grade teacher at Couch Middle School, and Kara Cowdrick, a fifth-grade teacher at Chesney Elementary School, are winners of Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education and are being honored on commercials airing on WSB-TV.
The commercial celebrating Apley-Rose ran in the last month while Cowdrick’s commercial will run through Nov. 10. The Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education recognizes and honors outstanding educators and aims to create a platform to further winners’ success, retain motivated educators and attract like-minded individuals to metro-Atlanta education.
Collection tables will be located at each entrance to the ISC
Donations will benefit Gwinnett shelters, group homes, and food pantries.
TOGETHER, WE CAN MAKE A HUGE IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF OTHERS IN OUR COMMUNITY!
Requested items for this year are: canned proteins (tuna, ham, ravioli), canned soups & fruits, mac & Cheese,
peanut butter & jelly, personal care items (tooth brushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and soap), toddler diapers and toilet paper.
*Bags such as the Publix reusable grocery bags with handles are much appreciated too.
James Rayford, far left, director of academic support, talks on Monday with mentor Clarence Lockett, second from right, and his mentee, Joshua Tooks, a Berkmar High School junior, following the sixth annual golf tournament at Chateau Elan Golf Club to benefit the Gwinnett County Public Schools Community-Based Mentoring Program. (Gwinnett Daily Post Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
Joshua Tooks admittedly could’ve spent Monday’s day off from school playing video games. Instead, he spent the day under bright sunny skies at Chateau Elan Golf Club.
Tooks, a junior at Berkmar High School, was one reason more than 80 golfers participated in the sixth annual golf tournament — the largest turnout ever — to benefit the Community-Based Mentoring Program in Gwinnett County Public Schools. The event was expected to raise between $10,000 and $15,000 for the program that gives at-risk teens field trips, job shadowing and scholarships for improving their grades and outlook on life.
“I think it shows them that are people out here who care for them, and they realize that they’re not in it by themselves,” said James Rayford, director of academic support with the school district. “It gives them exposure to some life skills that they can really build a relationship with our mentors and they see that hey, there are some people behind them.”
The program counts more than 450 students this year. Last school year, 95 percent of students were promoted to the next grade level, 82 percent passed core academic subjects and 57 percent had less than four discipline incidents.
There are more than 150 mentors and 85 percent have a college degree. They have more than 4,200 volunteer hours.
Tooks is in his second year being paired with mentor Clarence Lockett, a former Johnson & Johnson executive, and in that time, Tooks said his grade-point-average has jumped from 2.2 to 2.9.
“Before I was in the mentoring program, I was struggling in school, I wasn’t doing the right thing,” Tooks said. “When I got into the mentoring program, I started getting my grades up, my GPA is up and I’m being more active in the community helping out, volunteering.”
Lockett, who is in his third year as a mentor in the program, said the fundraiser gives the program a chance to offer students options.
“We know in the school district, there is not a lot of discretionary money,” Lockett said. “So the more we can supplement, the more we can do.”
One example was a visit to the Coca-Cola bottling operation, which is an experience the mentees otherwise would not see.
“As part of their social studies unit fourth grade students researched Native Americans with me during their technology special.” said Sharon Amolo, media specialist at Gwin Oaks Elementary. “Students designed a symbol based on their Native American group that represented either the clothing, food, environment, or combination.”
Students then used iPads to take a picture of their drawing with the Shapemaker app which turned their drawings from 2D to 3D. They tweaked their designs as needed then printed their designs using the Makerbot 3D printers bought with the Gwinnett Foundation grant.
Ms. Amolo collaborated with the art teacher, Kyle Fields, to extend the project even further by having all 175 fourth grade students use their design stamps to decorate a clay pot.
Here’s what a students had to say about the new technology introduced into their social studies curriculum:
Austin M. “I’m going to ask my mom and dad to buy me a a 3D printer so I can make more stuff at home.”
Matthew K. “Thanks for teaching us about 3D printers. It was so cool.”
Visit the following links for more pictures of the fourth grade Gwin Oaks students as they discover new technology that enhanced their learning experience:
Graves Elementary opened a new homework center this week through a partnership with SCANA Energy. The mascot Gutsy The Flying Fox appeared for a special event at the school in Norcross to offer leadership lessons by focusing on character and preparation.
Graves Elementary opened a new homework center this week through a partnership with SCANA Energy.
The mascot Gutsy The Flying Fox appeared for a special event at the school in Norcross to offer leadership lessons by focusing on character and preparation.
The Graves Elementary Homework Center operates from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. The center serves 45 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
SCANA Energy partners with schools across Gwinnett and Georgia to create the homework centers. They are designed to help students learn proper study skills, and they are staff with two certified teachers who are responsible for management of the program.
The natural gas marketer provides money for the teachers, an assistant, snacks and student incentives.
Prudential and the National Association of Secondary Principals are seeking applications from middle and high school students who have made meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service in the past year.
This is a great opportunity to honor deserving young people in your school, and to impress upon all of your students that volunteering is important, valuable and personally rewarding. Students can apply online at http://spirit.prudential.com. To be eligible, they must complete an application by November 3, 2015 and then submit them to the principal.
Your school should have received an orange packet with program application and instructions. From 11/4/15 to 11/10/15 schools will certify local honoree application(s) to state-level judging.
The principals designate Local Honoree(s) online and nominate him/her/them for state-level judging by 11:59 p.m. CST on Tuesday, November 10. On February 9, 2016 state honorees will be selected as well as Distinguished Finalists. State Honorees will receive $ 1,000 each. State Honorees will travel to Washington D.C. 4/30/16 to 5/3/16 for the 2016 national recognition event. 10 Finalists will receive $ 5,000 each along with an expense paid trip to the program’s national recognition event in Washington, D.C.
Brookwood Elementary’s Sharon Smith, center right, is embraced after being named the 2015 Gwinnett County Public Schools Teacher of the Year during the GCPS Teacher of the Year banquet at the Gwinnett Center.